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Insect Repellent Removes Pen Stain

A household story to put you to sleep

By Melanie CharlesPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
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Insect Repellent Removes Pen Stain
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It’s a little known fact that insect repellent (specifically Aeroguard) removes pen stain from clothing. This insect repellent was sprayed on Queen Elizabeth to a visit to Australia in 1963, keeping away the flies and mosquitoes. Ok, I don’t know if the second fact is true, I discovered it on Wikipedia, but I know from experience that a pen stain can be removed from clothing using the insect repellent Aeroguard.

My first job when I left school was working in a dry cleaners. Working at the counter I would advise customers on the chance of a stain being removed, as that was our speciality: Fancy fabrics and stain removal.

Hans, the owner had a secret weapon. A dry cleaner extraordinaire, a man named Antoni. Honestly I can’t remember his name, so I’ve named him Antoni as all I remember was that he was from Eastern Europe (it was a very long time ago). In the two years I worked there I never met Antoni, but I did met others who worked with him. So don’t worry, he did exist. He was off somewhere in the factory devising new ways to clean clothes.

I think about it now and it seems a strange job to be an expert in. Even stranger not to know much about this man I worked with for two years, or that I never saw him. Antoni, the mysterious dry cleaner from Brisbane! If you’re wondering why I never met him, it was because I worked in the shop which was a fifteen minute drive away from the factory where they cleaned the clothes. Every day, twice a day a driver would come and pick up the clothes to take to the factory.

Rarely did I ask about how they cleaned the clothes or what he used. I was eighteen. My life revolved around my friends and going out. One day Alice, my boss asked me to go to the Supermarket. She gave me $20 and told me to buy two bottles of mosquito repellent for Antoni to use at the factory. At that time there was only one type, Aeroguard. So off to the supermarket I went (it was only a two minute walk away as we worked in a shopping centre).

When I came back I was so intrigued by this peculiar purchase I asked Alice what it was used for. “It removes pen stains,” Alice said in her usual straight forward manner. I stored the information away.

I retrieved it from the rusty data banks a couple of months later when I got pen on my favourite and expensive white t-shirt. I didn’t earn a great deal of money back then, so this purchase was precious to me.

Immediately I jumped in the car and purchased a bottle of Aeroguard. Another little known fact, although this is an iconic Australian brand, it is actually owned by a British-Dutch company and now living in the UK, I have never seen it in the stores. I digress, apologies. So with shaking hands I carefully lay out the t-shirt and dabbed the liquid on the pen stain. Then deciding I may as well go the distance, I rubbed it into the stain and waited a full, very long and heart wrenching five minutes. Into the washing machine it went and half an hour later I was smiling with relief as I pulled it out of the machine and……. no pen stain.

I have used the same method many times over the years and shared it widely with friends. Pen stains can be removed with Aeroguard. I’ve never tried any other type of mosquito repellent, but others may work.

In case you want to find a version of Aeroguard and don’t live in Australia, the active ingredient in Aeroguard is N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). It doesn’t sound very healthy does it, but it is also very good at keeping the flies and mosquitoes away. Although so is Vegemite, but that’s a story for another day.

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About the Creator

Melanie Charles

Children's book author. Often gets the apostrophe placing wrong.

Often ponders, 'How did I get so old?' Writes stories about her life so far, things that interest her and often things that make her rage at the world. Pretty much whatever.

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