Stains are continually an enigma to many; they have a tendency to appear in fairly random places, with no genuine justification as to why. For example, when looking down a pair of jeans, one may see hints of green and white integrated into the denim. T-shirts are also a magnet both for white stains which draw considerable attention, and black stains from the likes of oil and grease, which even manage to show up on black cotton.
The Forensics of Stains
A pastime, which a certain type of person may consider a worthwhile activity, is to surmise possible sources of stains as you while away the hours1. For example, green stains probably come from the freshly-cut grass of summer. The white ones will likely come from any rather amateurish toothbrushing episodes in the last week. Some causes of stains, however, will create, for the 'stain-spotter', some genuine mental exercise:
For example, I recently discovered brown stains spattered up a jumper. Being a seasoned professional, I assumed they were mud, and as such, was very surprised to find they were not removed by washing. No, this was a much more complicated source, beyond the evil staining of both mud and dirt. A long search eventually revealed the source as my spot cream, wiped there off my fevered brow, while identifying other stains. Fascinating? No. Disturbing? Unlikely. Sanitary? Almost certainly not.
Tough on Stains, Tough on the Causes of Stains
The cause of stains is most commonly accidental, caused by a simple flaw - overconfidence. Here lies the nub of the problem. Simple care can be taken with everyday actions, to avoid unsightly staining:
Toothbrushing - The toothbrush must remain inside your mouth at all times in order to prevent a trickle of bleaching toothpaste rolling down a cheek
Eating - The time-honoured tradition of transferring food into mouth is not without peril. Particular care should be given to maintaining eye contact with food, and not using a fork like a spoon.
Mechanics etc - For heaven's sake, don't react to the impulse after getting oil on your hands, to wipe it off onto clothing. It is a reflex, but one that must be suppressed.
It should be noted that Murphy's law applies heavily to the staining process. One can guarantee that only light stains will get onto dark clothes, and vice versa. It can also be virtually guaranteed that many stains will get into the most embarrassing places possible2.
It is generally accepted, especially among males aged 12-30, that stains are unavoidable, therefore one should know how to get rid of stains with some advice compiled by a list of people as long as an instruction manual for Windows.