Fruit stains are always a tragedy. They are members of the terrible Tannin gang, not an easy lot to deal with. The fiercest are the red fruit ones, like the deadly splashes left by Giovanna’s heavenly blueberry pie on Raymond’s white shirt: a delight for the taste buds but a demon to get rid of. Next time, the dear boy will have to wear his diving suit to wolf it down without damaging his clothes.
Within seconds of the accident, rush to remove the solids – in this case the guilty blueberries – then deal with their smears. The faster you act, the better your chances to save the poor victim. Drench the fresh spots with lemon juice or white vinegar, rub and leave for a few minutes. Then, if the fabric can tolerate it (i.e. colourfast cotton and linen, don’t forget to pre-test the fabric), follow up with the boiling water punishment. To perform this delicate operation, stretch the wounded shirt, stain-side down, over a bowl and secure it with a rubber band. Put in the bathtub, sink or shower and get a kettle of boiling water. Place the spout on the target, lift your arm as high as possible and, with a steady hand, as when serving mint tea in Marrakech, pour the boiling water through the disaster area. Try not to splatter or to scald yourself. If you feel unsure about carrying out this mission successfully, delegate to Raymond.
Hot water normally sets fruit stains, but used immediately after the accident, it will kick the stains out of the fabric, before they can stick to it.
After erasing the blueberry signature, elegantly throw the survivor in the washing-machine and select the relevant program to restore its flawless complexion.
If your damaged fabric cannot endure this brutal treatment, apply lemon juice or vinegar on the crisis zone. Rub, wait a few minutes and rinse in cold water. Should the invaders resist, vaporize them with white vinegar, rub and rise. If all is well, chuck in the wash. If not, dilute 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and ½ teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent in 1 litre of water and send the unfortunate garment dipping in this magic liquid for 15 minutes. Cross your fingers and your toes, rinse and toss in the washer.
Old and dried fruit stains can sometimes be persuaded to disappear without a trace with a gentle glycerine massage. Rub it into the stains to lift them painlessly, let it sit for an hour and finish with one of the above treatments.