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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Tests Out Stain Cleaners' Skills

For MTThe contestants each had 15 minutes to clean a very soiled square meter of cloth.
They came from all over the city -- nine women who deal with the mess that everyone, even presidents, leave behind.

Earlier this year it had been the ironers' turn. Now it was time for professional pyatnovivodchitsy, or stain cleaners, to strut their stuff in a competition organized by the municipal workers' trade union, the Kremlin property department and a host of dry cleaners.

"We want to increase the prestige of the profession," said Tatyana Balanova, head of the jury and deputy head of scientific research at the Domestic Services Research Institute. "It's close enough to an ancient profession."

Few realize that in every dry cleaners' shop in the city, one of the women -- for men are as rare there as stain-free baby clothes -- is likely to be a full-time pyatnovivodchitsa, cleaning stains day in, day out.

"It's tough work," Balanova said.

The competition took place in the bowels of the Kremlin dry cleaners.

Owned by the medical institute of the Kremlin property department, the large flat building in northwest Moscow does not deal directly with presidential stains -- whether a la Monica Lewinsky or not -- but with hospitals such as the elite Central Clinic Hospital, where former President Boris Yeltsin was treated.

Aptly, the stain cleaner representing the medical institute of the Kremlin property department was Lyubov Brezhnev -- sadly no relation to the former leader of the Soviet Union.

Giant clothes presses and washing machines fit for cleaning circus tents were upstaged Tuesday by a small machine that looked like a cross between an ironing board and a sewing machine.

Each of the nine contestants was handed a square meter of cloth stained by the organizers and given 15 minutes to clean it.

Six stains, including toothpaste, lipstick and ketchup, had been specially prepared a week before by the competition organizers.

The cleaning machine, of German origin, has a tap-like device that blows steam, water and a cocktail of smelly chemicals onto the stained cloth.

The cloth is then passed over a small iron-shaped space.

By pressing a lever at the bottom of the machine, fresh air blows up into the cloth to dispel the smell of the chemicals.

If they had looked a couple of meters behind them, the contestants could have spotted a cheat sheet in the form of a list of stains and the right chemical needed to make them disappear. Admittedly, the list was in German, so a knowledge that klebstoff, senf and tee was glue, mustard and tea would have helped.

As well as cleaning stains, contestants had to answer 15 questions on stain cleaning theory -- for example: How often do employees need to have a medical exam?

Answer: Once a year, because of their close work with chemicals.

No cheating was necessary and Valentina Skvortsova took the 10,000 ruble ($317) first prize.

"One week," Skvortsova said, "is a relatively fresh stain and fairly easy to clean."

Skvortsova had the encrusted stains removed in less than 15 minutes.

All of the contestants were given prizes including flowers and an electric kettle. Skvortsova won a host of prizes including lots of new chemicals for her dry cleaners.

And any advice for the messy at home?

"Take it to the cleaners quickly," said Skvortsova, who works at Doichechistka dry cleaners in Prospekt Mira. "Don't, whatever you do, try and clean it yourself."