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Three books on removing stains (August 30, 2007)

book review
by Dean Tudor

Good Housekeeping Stain Rescue! the A-Z guide to removing smudges, spots & other spills (Hearst Books, 2007; distr. Canadian Manda Group, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-58816-478-0, $16.95 spiral bound hard boards) is by Anne Marie Soto, who is not identified beyond her name, and the copyright is held by Hearst.

Classic Household Hints: over 500 old and new tips for a happier home (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2007; distr. Canadian Manda Group, 112 pages, ISBN 978-1-58479-572-8, $21.95 hard covers) is by Susan Waggoner, a novelist who has also written about vintage cocktails.

Natural Stain Removal Secrets (Fair Winds, 2007; distr. Canadian Manda Group, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-59233-253-3, $14.95 paper covers) is by Deborah Martin, who was once an editor for Rodale home and garden books.

All three of these books are useful, although the Martin book is more environmentally friendly, more authoritative (the author worked for Rodale), and cheaper, especially for the relevant number of pages. All three books might be useful in restaurants, which need immediate fixes to sudden dramatic situations of staining (washrooms, carpets, napkins, tablecloths, clothes, etc.).

The Good Housekeeping book deals with ink, chocolate, makeup, mustard, nail polish, lipstick, grass, ketchup, crayon, scuff marks on the floor. It has data on bleach, commercial products, mystery stains, and kid-created stains. There is material on laundry basics, pre-washing data, enzymes, and a basic cleaning guide to fibres and fabrics. There is an A to Z arrangement for 80 stains. For each stain, there is information about how to remove it from fabric, upholstery, and carpet. It even has a special chapter on heirloom textiles.

The Waggoner book is loaded with vintage and retro art, primarily from 1920 through 1960, and with anecdotes about American life, plus many fun quotes and facts from movies. The only stuff from the past that seemed to be effective was Bon Ami and Oxydol. But now there are a variety of new cleaners. The book goes beyond cleaning, of course, and includes organizing your homer, buying and storing food, how to use an iron properly, floors and floor coverings, painting, use of family rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Martin's book has an "Emergency Stain Removal Cheat Sheet" for 20 basic stains. She always emphasizes "natural", not harmful to the fabric, to you, or to the environment. She emphasizes that you test before you treat, and always have a dedicated stain removal kit of measuring cups, rags, scraping tool, Borax, bran, Club Soda, corn starch, cream of tartar, pencil erasers, hydrogen peroxide, kitty litter, lemon juice, meat tenderizer, nail polish remover, salt, soap, vinegar, and other items. The arrangement here is by type of stain (protein, tarnish, oily, dye, combo), but this may not be too useful in times of emergency. The best approach is directly through the index. She has a bibliography and lists of websites for more details.

Audience and level of use: The Waggoner book is definitely meant to be a fun book to read, and then show to your cleaning lady. Unless you are a neat freak already. The Good Housekeeping book is thorough and to the point. The Martin book is for the green amongst us.

The downside to this book: The Waggoner book's index needs expanding. The Martin book's paperback binding is really tight.

The upside to this book: The Good Housekeeping has a large type index, as does the Martin book.

Quality/Price Rating: For straight-ahead advice, try Good Housekeeping (90); for environmental concerns use Martin (90). The Waggoner book is useful but mainly just to read (85).




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