I would apologize for the weirdness I’m about to subject you to, but you’re here reading a cleaning column so perhaps the time for apologies is behind us.
Here goes: I’m, like, obsessed with Shout Wipes.
Shout Wipes were introduced in 1997, though I have no recollection of them existing in the ‘90s, which probably says more about what I was up to in the ‘90s than anything else. But at some point along the way, I became aware of Shout Wipes, and also of Tide pens, which, to be blunt, are inferior products with better marketing, which is why Tide pen has become shorthand for an on-the-go stain treatment product the same way we call all tissues Kleenex.
The problem with Tide pens is twofold, possibly threefold but the first and third folds are related enough that we can stick with twofold. The first and third problems lie in the delivery system; in order to get the stain remover to start flowing out of the pen’s brush tip, you have to jam it onto the stain, which inevitably results in a big flood being released onto your shirt or pants or whatever. Then, even if it’s gotten the stain out, you’re left with a big old ring of detergent which, in and of itself, will often create a stain. No good!
There’s also this problem: The pen isn’t that convenient to carry around. If you use a purse or bookbag or laptop case, sure, you can stash a Tide pen in it no problem. But if you don’t, and you rely on pants pockets to hold your stuff the pen, well? “Is that a Tide pen in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” Right.
Shout Wipes, on the other hand, are perfect in every way. They are individually wrapped, making it easy to toss one or two packets into a bag or to stash in a wallet. The wipe format is a gentler way to introduce a stain remover to clothing, since it gives you more control. You can use the Wipe to gently dab at a small stain, really get in there and scrub a larger stain, AND you can rinse the Wipe with water and use it to go over the stain-treated area to remove any lingering detergent so it doesn’t create a new stain of its own.
In my own life, I’ve used Shout Wipes to remove dribbles of pizza grease from shirts, soy sauce spills from skirts, I handed one over to the Chad sitting next to me on the Amtrak to Boston when he spilled his Dunkie’s on his pastel shorts, like a God damned hero.
So! I think you should get yourself some Shout Wipes, and keep one on hand for when life’s inevitable spills happen. Because the thing is about stains, and this is true of almost all of them with very few exceptions (ink, mud), is that they’re best treated as soon as they happen. But not with Tide pens, because Tide pens are terrible.