It’s the middle of the week, but you managed to wake up before your alarm clock so you could beat the morning rush hour. You made it to the office early and know that you have a heck of a presentation to give to all of your managers and your entire team, but you feel confident because of how prepared you are. Suddenly, you notice a stain on your shirt or paints. You spilled some coffee or tea without seeing, or maybe some condiment from your breakfast or lunch exploded on your sweater and every bit of confidence you had is now gone. What do you do? Here are some quick tips on how to get rid of pesky stains that happen while at the office.
It’s likely that you have a first-aid box in your office to help with any cuts and scrapes that you might get during the work day, but when employed in a professional setting, it’s imperative that you have an emergency stain kit that can help you in these frustrating and troublesome times.
What to Include in Your Kit
- Cornstarch or baby powder
- Cotton swabs and cloths
- Soft-bristled toothbrush
- Stain removal pen and wipes
- Rubbing alcohol
- Extra shirt
Dab and Don’t Scrub
You might not realize it, but scrubbing your stain could do more damage to your shirt and actually cause the fabric to soak the stain deeper than what dabbing does. The best way to protect your work shirt is to dab the stain with a white cloth to soak it up, and the white material is going to ensure that you don’t transfer any dye to the fabric of your clothing.
When spot treating, the best method is to work your way from the outside to the inside, and you can use the cotton swab from your stain kit to apply the cleaning solution to the problem area. Spot treating is going to buy you time until you’re able to get off of work and get your shirt to laundry or the dry cleaners where it can be managed appropriately.
Managing Stains at Work
The purpose of managing your stains at the workplace isn’t to provide a permanent solution, but a temporary one that gets you through the workday until you can get the stain adequately treated. Depending on the stain in question, different approaches need to be taken, but here are some scenarios that you could come across at your office.
- Coffees and Tea: Cold water is essential to treating coffee because using hot water is only going to cause it to settle more. You should start by absorbing the substance with a white cloth, and then dab with a spot remover pen.
- Greasy foods and gravies: The baby powder or cornstarch from your stain kit is going to help with treating a greasy stain. If you have thicker residue, it should get carefully scraped off with the blunt edge of a butter knife before treatment. If it’s a tough stain, use some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab.
- Chocolate: Use the butter knife from your emergency kit to scrape off any of the thicker remaining evidence of chocolate. Once you’ve done that, treat the dirtied area with a stain removing pen or wipe, and follow it up by applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab.
- Ink: Spilled ink stains are tough to manage, and you do need to catch them quickly before it has a chance to set in properly. Try using rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to dab over the stain and follow it up by dabbing a white cloth to absorb the alcohol.
- Cosmetics: You can use a stain remover pen or wipe to dab over the stained area.
If these methods of stain removal don’t work, the best bet is to camouflage the stain or swap your shirt for the backup one in your kit.
Quick Ways to Camouflage Your Shirt
Sometimes your workday is just too busy to spend the time that is needed to treat a stain properly, and sometimes the stains are too severe for spot treatments to handle. In cases such as that, camouflaging your spill is a great way to get you through the day.
When you have a spare shirt or pair of pants in your emergency kit, you don’t have to worry about camouflaging because you can just swap them out and forget about the pesky stain until you get home. However, if you don’t have any backup clothing, there are other things that you can do.
You can get creative with how you choose to camouflage the offending mark, but pinning a brooch or a button over the stain is a great way to make it seem like nothing happened. You can also try tying a scarf in a certain way to cover it up. Outside of those methods, you can even result in slapping a name tag over the stain or covering it up with a workplace sticker. Get creative and have fun with it, don’t let it ruin your day.
Always remember that if it can go wrong, it’s likely to go wrong. You could go the entire year without having a spill on your work wear, but the one day that you have an important presentation or meeting, the spill-fairy is going to come and bless your apparel with the evidence of her existence. Don’t let her win, use your emergency kit and make a joke out of it if it’s too much of a stain for you to remove or camouflage, and remember: always dab.