OH NO! I made a mess!
We all have those moments, but there's no need to panic!
Here are simple tips and old wives' tales that (almost) always work for me!
First and most importantly, do not let a stain set in. When that happens, the staining substance (think: ketchup, chocolate) forms a chemical bond with the fabric (e.g., your shirt) and becomes permanent (i.e., no amount of washing or treating will remove it).
Second, DO NOT RUB! Instead, blot the spot gently to remove excess moisture.
Good Housekeeping taught me to apply isopropyl alcohol to a stain then blot it with a clean napkin or cloth. When you do, you should see the stain start to dissolve almost immediately. You might want to place a paper towel under the fabric to prevent the alcohol from soaking through.
Talcum powder and cornstarch are your friends when dealing with oily stains (e.g., pizza drips). Dab the stain with the powder and wait 30 minutes, then brush off and say arrivederci to the stain.
For blood stains, use cold water to treat the area. Never use warm water since it will set in the stain.
My favorite tip, of course, is how to treat wine stains since, after all, I live in New Orleans! Real Simple says to blot excess wine (as if!) with a clean cloth and then grab the saltshaker and cover it liberally. Let it sit for approximately five minutes and then pour boiling water over the spot from a height of eight inches. OR, if you can't do this, brush off the salt and hit the dry cleaners ASAP!