Here are some helpful suggestions for stain removal from Fashion: Fall-Winter 1950.
“Following are simple, effective ways to remove stains and keep clothes and home fabrics spotlessly clean. Work carefully, quickly out of doors or in a well-ventilated room. Gasoline, naphtha and ether catch fire easily, so never use them near a fire. The first rule is to start while the spot is fresh, even before it dries if possible. Be sure you know what the cloth is made of – cotton, wool, silk, rayon, etc. Never use strong acids or alkalies. Water weakens rayon; sodium perborate and hydrogen peroxide are the safest bleaches to use. Find out what the stain is, if possible, before trying to remove it. Keep all stain removers together on a handy shelf out of reach of children. Label all jars and bottles; be sure to mark ‘Poison’ on the poisonous ones. For a complete shelf you’ll need bleaches, absorbent powders; grease solvents; cloth, white blotting paper or cleansing tissues; medicine dropper; glass rod, bowls. Use removers sparingly with light brushing motions.”
I am not sure what to think of applying kerosene or turpentine to any of my clothes in an effort to remove something as benign as gum! "Use sparingly" - you got that right! And which is worse: grease stains or gasoline and benzene. Seriously – who has benzene in their home!?!
Although, to be fair, I have no idea what most of the scary-sounding ingredients in any standard household cleaner actually do - which is also disturbing, come to think of it. So perhaps gasoline, kerosene, and benzene are mild in comparison to what we use today? Any chemistry majors out there? Because it seems to me that some of these helpful suggestions are just as likely to burn right through the fabric rather than remove a stain. I guess dissolving fabric is one way to remove that pesky mark from your favorite frock!
I think I will just stick with the old-fashioned soap and water route!
[Vintage adverts & photos source]