I have a six-year-old son, and he absolutely loves it when I make things for him. He even tries to claim the projects that aren't for him, and it makes me so happy that he still thinks that the things I make are the best in the world. I'm enjoying it while it lasts-I know my days are numbered in this joy.
When I make him things, I know they are going to get dirty. Like, oatmeal and juice and mud and markers and grass and other terrifying, mysterious substances (bring me the head of the inventor of Silly Putty). So, while I only make him things out of fibers that are easily washed and cared for, sometimes I need a little extra ammunition in the cleaning department.
So how do you get stains out of hand-crocheted projects?
The first step would be to wash the item following the washing directions for the yarn you used. Always take fiber type into account when washing-what is good for some fibers is a disaster for others!
There are a number of great products designed to gently wash your handmade items. Soak and Eucalan are two of my favorites, but you can find similar solutions in the laundry aisle at the store. Fill a container with lukewarm water and a dime-sized drop of wool wash. Submerge the item and let it soak overnight. Check the stain in the morning-you may need to repeat the process, or apply some of the wool wash directly to the stain and let it soak for another night. In a pinch, baby shampoo makes a great substitute for wool wash! Be sure to lay your project out flat to dry, especially if you are treating a stain. Putting it in the dryer can set the stain.
NOT chlorine bleach. That would be the opposite of good for your project. OxiClean is one example of this type of product. Generally, a solution or paste is made and applied directly to the stained area, then allow the item to soak overnight. The process may need to be repeated for stubborn stains.
Sometimes, you just need a professional. No, not that kind-although maybe, if you're looking at chocolate rubbed into the carefully crocheted cables of some fine merino. I mean the kind that are trained and prepared to care for your fabrics. They have an arsenal of tools and techniques at hand to battle the really tough stains. I find it's worth the small expense for the peace of mind.
Happy crocheting (and washing)!
PS: For Silly Putty: rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush. Then a glass of wine-for you, not the sweater.