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    Dirty Laundry

    January 1, 1999

    When thrashing that dirty shirt in the nearest winter stream doesn't seem like it will do the trick, have a look at the "Stain Detective" Web site http://www.tide.com/stainDet/. This site, run by the Tide detergent folks (but mostly free of gratuitous product-pushing), will question you about fabric type and color and kind of stain inflicted, from paint to food to tree sap, search its "vast database," and return customized advice. (Dare we speculate about how a current scandal could have been dealt with here?) The site cautiously suggests checking care labels and pretesting cleaning on hidden areas; a "fabrics, fibers, and textures" link defines many commonly used (and misused) terms.

    Gabriel Goldberg gabe@acm.org

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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