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Act fast in order to save your favorite blouse from a mistake made during your morning brush.

By Erica Sloan
May 08, 2020
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woman looking in mirror brushing teeth
Credit: Getty / PeopleImages

We've all been there: You're pressed for time and the only thing that's between you and the outside world is your toothbrush. But you're fully dressed—and just as you start counting to 60, a glob of toothpaste somehow lands in the center of your blouse. If you're in a hurry, your first thought is probably to change, but it shouldn't be—not if you want to save the garment from a permanent stain. To successfully remove toothpaste from said shirt, stick to this protocol.

First things first: Don't rub the stain.

Smearing will only push the stuff farther into the fabric's fibers. If it's a glob, "use the edge of a spoon to lift off the majority," says Patric Richardson, founder of website and online shop the Laundry Evangelist. "The faster you do that, the smaller the stain is going to be to begin with."

Blot and walk away.

Then, to keep it from staining (the titanium dioxide in many brands can cause stubborn spots), dab it with a wet cloth, add a dot of mild hand soap to the cloth, and dab again before flushing the area with water, says Richardson. If it's a small area, leave it to air-dry and be on your way.

But if you use a whitening toothpaste, act fast.

One caveat: If you use a whitening paste, act swiftly—it may contain hydrogen peroxide, which can bleach clothing if it sits long enough. To clear any last remnants on a machine-washable item, run it through a cycle with an enzyme-based detergent.

Don't rely on dry cleaners.

You can take the stained garment to the dry cleaners, says Richardson, but taking action ahead of time will give your garment the best possible chance. "You're still going to want to blot that stain out first before you go," he says, especially if the toothpaste formula contains hydrogen peroxide.

Hand-wash finer fabrics.

Get toothpaste on your favorite silk blouse? Richardson recommends hand-washing the garment—as in, fully submerge it in water: "Silk spots, so even when you blot it, you're going to be able to tell. I'd recommend a full hand-wash." As for delicate wool sweaters? "I might just spot it, and not wash the whole thing," he says.

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