Queen of Clean's back-to-school tips and tricks

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PHOENIX -- When the kids start back to school the spots, stains and smells come home every day. These are some of the problems I get asked about most along with some easy fixes.

BACKPACKS: Backpacks take a real beating, but cleaning them can be easy. For fabric, spray with Carpet CPR, wait five minutes and then rub with a damp microfiber cloth. Keep rubbing until no more dirt is removed, keeping the cloth rinsed well.

Spraying with a fabric protector will make it easier to clean. Look for Scotchgard® in the grocery store or big box stores. For vinyl packs or trim, simply wring out the microfiber cloth in warm water and rub until the pack is clean.

GUM: On clothes, shoes, and the car mats where it gets tracked in on shoes. Carbona Stain Devils makes a special spotter for gum. Look for Stain Devils in the laundry spotter section at grocery stores, big box stores and home centers. Use it according to directions and that sticky mess will be gone.

GRASS: Once the kids are heading to the playground and playing sports, grass stains happen.

Avoid using ammonia, degreasers or alkaline detergents, these can interact with the tannin in grass stains and may permanently set them.

For all washable fabrics, sponge with rubbing alcohol, repeating this several times. If the stain persists, sponge with white vinegar and rinse. If you have a particularly difficult grass stain rub it firmly with an old toothbrush and some toothpaste. Rinse well when you are done and then launder as usual.

For grass on white leather athletic shoes, rub with some rubbing alcohol or on a dry shoe rub with a dry soap-filled steel wool pad. Do not use any water on the shoe or pad. Rinse when done.

MUD/DIRT/RED DUST: Lather Fels Naptha Bar Soap onto the stained area and then work in 20 Mule Team Borax. Work the stained area well between your thumbs. Rinse and if needed re-treat. Launder as usual.

RED SODA, FRUIT AND JUICE STAINS: First of all try pouring club soda on it and let it bubble up. It may totally remove the stain if it’s not too old. If that doesn’t work then you can use Carbona Stain Devils for Fruit and Red Wine Stains. Follow the directions on the bottle.

ODOR: This is the time of the year when the gym bag and clothes come home smelling like dirty socks or worse. Sometimes the backpack smells like last week’s sandwich. To remove the odor, sprinkle ODORZOUT into the gym bag. A little goes a long way so you don’t need to use too much. Shake the bag out or vacuum it out when you are ready to use it again. Doing this on Friday night and shaking it out Sunday night generally keeps the bag smelling fresh. Odorzout is not a chemical cover-up like many of the sprays in the store. It is a natural odor eliminator so it’s safe for clothes and skin. Buy Odorzout at ACE and Bed Bath and Beyond or call 1-800-88STINK to find a store near you or to order.

STICKY ZIPPER: Sometimes the zipper on new clothes is a little hard for small hands to pull up. To make it slide with ease, rub with a pencil. The graphite will help the zipper glide smoothly.

If the kids' school clothes are too stiff, a problem with jeans many times, break them in by putting them in the washer with 1/2 cup of table salt. They’ll come out much softer.

For more information on the Queen of Clean Linda Cobb, to find products used and recommended by the Queen and FREE printouts go to queenofclean.com. Find the Queen’s books at national book stores and on Amazon and queenofclean.com.