Dr Chemical Stains

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Let's face it, life's messy and if you want to do something about it you need a lesson in the science of stains. Mark Imisides is Dr Chemical and he says stain removal is a simple equation. "Most cleaners are either alkaline or acidic and often when you change the PH you get spectacular results"

Dr Chemical is sharing his tricks of the trade to get out every day stains and some of the solutions defy belief. The first clean-up is a greasy pan - and Dr Chemical is using something your grandmother might have used in her day-soda ash. "It's a mildly acidic chemical called sodium carbonate, now people know about sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate is the more alkaline version of it therefore its' a better cleaner"

We'll let that boil away for a while and check it in a few minutes.

"Mark beetroot is one of those stains people worry about getting on their shirt on a carpet or something how easy is it actually to get out, easy if you know how to do it trouble is most laundry powders are alkaline so when you wash it doesn't come out but if you acidify it comes out straight away. You've stained these already and they've dried so how easy is it going to be to get that out. Easy for example common vinegar from the supermarket all we have to do is acidify it here watch as I'll dip it in."

The stain fades before your eyes, then just wash it out under the tap. "So that's just vinegar - just vinegar incredible completely clean" but the surprise doesn't stop there who would have thought to use these cleaners on laundry. "With beetroot juice any acid will work so we've got the BAM with the Sulphonic. We've got the AJAX with the Phosphoric and the lemon with the citrus"

Amazingly the results are good with all of these acids; the next test could be tougher.

"What stain do you have here? We have red wine - which is the one everyone fears spilling on anything, what's the solution? Quite easy, the red colour in the wine is easy to oxidise by any of the modern pre-washes we have preen with oxy action and the sard wonder spray with the oxy plus - what's the oxy? Hydrogen peroxide, so it's an oxidising agent" The stains are soaked for a few minutes in the oxidising product and the red wine washes away. "Now of course you'd still need to put this through a normal wash is that the idea - but the main stain has gone that's right yeah."

"Chemicals can be used for a wide variety of things BAM easy off, yes that's a good bathroom cleaner but it's also a good acid so you can use it anywhere you need an acid"

Now what about dreaded ink stains. "We have here a regular biro which we'll mark the cotton with and a gel pen which we'll mark it with as well - the chemical we'll use is isopropanol the most versatile chemical you can use and what we'll see is the ink will just come straight away" Isopropanol is also known as rubbing alcohol and is generally available from pharmacies. With a bit of work the pen starts to disappear. "What else can you use this for? Well the good thing about it is its strong enough to get most common stains off. It won't damage anything you can use it on leather jackets, leather lounges even cloth lounges it will get most inks and sticker residues off it won't damage anything"

Now time to check that greasy pan - "while we're here shall we have a look at how the soda ash has gone with the frying pan, why not it's been boiling away for about ten minutes do you want to show me, it's like new it's is all gone all the fat's gone"

The science of stains can sometimes be surprising ... like cleaning oils with oils. "You've been in the garage and you've got oil all over your shirt how you going to get that out we're going to use baby oil. Okay why are you using oil cos that's not a traditional cleaner? It isn't but baby oil is a petroleum based product like engine oil they came from the same background therefore the chemistry is similar okay that's going to remove the stain can you show us"

"WD40 is an amazingly versatile product been around for years very sophisticated formula not highly promoted as a laundry cleaner, no it's isn't but watch how well it works"

"This is cooking oil that you've got on this, how you doing to get that out? okay we can use a preen ultra-degreaser which will work but we are going to use Mr Muscle oven cleaner - right again not a traditional cleaner why is it going to clean this, why use this? Well this shouldn't surprise us an oven cleaner is designed to get oil off ovens it's the same stuff just a different surface there's no reason why it won't work on fabric"

Some of the stain solutions are out of the ordinary but Dr Chemical says there's nothing unusual about the science. "You can get most stains out if you know how to do it"

Dr Chemical