What To Do When Your Friend Barfs On Your Coat

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She'll be here every other week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Check The Squalor Archive for assistance. Are you still dirty? Email her.

After wearing glasses since the third grade, I finally decided today that I've had enough with dirty glasses. I clean them daily with a microfiber cloth and the little spray bottle of cleaner the optometrist gave me but I still always have a gross, greasy film around the inside of the frames that I can't reach. Do you have any advice on how to get my glasses sparkly clean again? The lenses are polycarbonate (anti-scratch, anti-reflective) and the frames are teflon-coated acetate. Guys don't make passes at girls with dirty glasses, right?

This answer is so mundane I fear you all are going to be terribly disappointed in me, but here goes: Dish soap. Yeah, that's all. I know! I told you you'd be disappointed. OTOH, maybe you're just really thrilled that the answer isn't white vinegar?

Speaking of that white vinegar, love it though we do, it's not to be used to clean your glasses. The same goes for Windex, or any sort of glass cleaner really. Those products, as well as any other kind of cleaners that contain either bleach or ammonia, can strip away the coating on the lenses.

Getting back to that dish soap, the things you need to know are basically to use a very small amount of the stuff along with some warm water and your fingers to massage it into the lenses. It's recommended that you clean your glasses every day, but I'm not going to insist on that because I live here in the real world with the rest of you. But I am professionally obligated to tell you that daily washing is the best practice.

When it comes to drying the glasses, it's pretty crucial to stick with a soft cotton, chamois or microfiber cloth. Even the gentlest of paper products like tissues can cause scratching, so avoid them if you can.

After reading your column on Jezebel and Deadspin for months, I finally need to ask for help. Toward the end of a rather festive night out, one of my friends threw up all over one sleeve of my wool coat. I tried to wipe up as much of the stain as possible and took it to the dry cleaners two days later, but when I got the coat back, the stain was still there (even after I shamefully explained to them what the stain was when I dropped it off). The only difference seems to be that the fabric feels less soft after the dry cleaning. Is there anything I can do? Spot treatments? Soaking? Please tell me my coat can be saved!

Oh I should think that we can save that coat!! And actually it should be pretty easy to take care of that stain, but before we get into it a quick note on your experience at the dry cleaners. I spoke with a representative of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute to ask about what they recommend consumers do in the case of an item coming back from the dry cleaners with residual staining. They explained that it's most likely the case that the dry cleaner attempted to clean the vomit stain but stopped at the point at which they were concerned about damaging the garment by applying too much solvent. Because the service was performed, you'll have to pay, even if it wasn't effective.

With that said, you can absolutely go back to the cleaners and ask them to take another pass at it—just be aware that doing so might cause more damage to the coat. However, since the jacket is already damaged (because it's covered in barf stains) you may be willing to throw caution to the wind and see if another go at it by the dry cleaner solves the problem.

If you don't want to bother with that, you can also try a few things at home. Just like with dry cleaning, you should be aware that there's a chance that you might cause more damage, but I think it's a pretty slim chance for whatever that's worth. But fair warning being what it is, I mention it.

The first thing to try is just a little bit of liquid laundry detergent and a sponge or soft cloth to spot treat the area. Stick with cool water for this and don't rub too, too hard at the stain to decrease the risk of felting the wool. If you can work the sponge in one direction, that will also help to reduce damage to the fibers. Then flush with cool water and air dry flat—pressing the wet sleeve between a towel will push out some of the excess water, but be sure not to wring the coat, which can cause fiber damage.

If that doesn't work, the next thing to try is an enzymatic stain remover like Zout. The caveat with the use of those is that they can cause color pulling (i.e. the loss of color), so test the product on an inner portion of the coat that won't be seen if indeed there's some dye loss.

I feel pretty confident that the stain just needs a little work, the trick is just to be gentle. Good luck out there!

Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha (Plume); more cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found on Twitter, Kinja, and Tumblr. Squalor appears on Jezebel and Deadspin on alternating weeks.

Image by Jim Cooke, photo via Shutterstock.