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Ask Martha: Removing Water-Based Stains from Clothing

What is the best way to remove water-based-paint stains from clothing?
—Katie Burtzlaff, Santa Monica, Calif.

While oil-based-paint stains are best left to professional dry cleaners, a quick reaction to water-based paints can make this a do-it-yourself job. As soon as you see a stain, remove the garment and rinse it immediately in warm water before putting it in the wash. Don’t put the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone, as the heat will set it. And if a waterbased splatter has dried before you notice it, you should rely on professionals, says Lorraine Muir, director of textile testing and research services at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. A dry cleaner has the stain-removal agents and tools needed to clean the fabric without damaging it.