Trying to remove stains and dirt from clothes can be difficult. There are so many products out in the market today that all advertise pristine whites and vibrant colors if you use their products. But these companies often hide how unnatural or harmful their chemicals can be and can even ruin your clothes if used improperly. A better way around these harmful or toxic chemicals is natural and green stain removers you can make in your own home. You will be able to control what works best for you while still being sustainable. Plus, the natural ingredients are easy on delicate skin and your wallet.
It is important to understand what type of stain you are dealing with. Not all stains can be treated the same as some break down with heat while others will set. You also have to understand the fabric you are trying to clean. A white silk shirt might require more delicate attention than most t-shirts. Another important factor to keep in mind is time and how quickly you can clean the stain. Obviously dry strains are harder to remove than fresh ones who have been run under some water.
Identify the Stain
These include spots from car grease or motor oil, hair oil and mousse, hand lotion, kitchen grease, lard, butter, bacon, oils, ointments, salad dressing and suntan lotion.
These include spots from alcoholic drinks, coffee or tea without milk, fruits and juices, soft drinks and wine. Most jellies also contain tannins, but cherry and blueberry jellies should be treated as dye spots.
These include spots from blueberries, cherries, grass, and mustard. Dye spots can be problems. After all, dyes are usually meant to stick. They’re what color our clothes.
These are caused by such substances as baby food and formula, milk, cream- or cheese-based foods, eggs, meat juices, blood, vomit, and urine. Basically, if it comes from an animal/human it is a protein stain.
These contain both oils or waxes and dyes. They are commonly divided into two categories:
Group A combination spots include those from lipstick, eye makeup (mascara, pencil, liner, eye shadow), furniture polish and shoe polish.
Group B combination spots include chocolate, gravy, hairspray, face makeup (foundation, powder, rouge), peanut butter and tomato-based foods.
It is recommended that all stains, except for oil-based, be immediately placed under running cold water to prevent setting. Hot or warm water might set the stain in the fabric. This will help the stain from bonding with the fabric and easier to clean. If you are busy when the accident occurs, it is also advised to soak the stain in water and salt. The salt helps break down most stains and will ensure that stain will be easier to clean when you finally find time to do so.
Distilled white vinegar is a miracle worker in the laundry room. It is inexpensive, gentle on fabrics and safer to use than chlorine bleach and fabric softeners. Always choose white vinegar to avoid dying your clothes.
White vinegar is key in removing yellow underarm perspiration stains and odor, removing mildew stains, whitening, and brightening your clothes. Just adding one cup of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse will leave clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh.
Lime or Lemon:
Fresh or bottled 100 percent real lemon or lime juice has a natural bleaching action on fabrics due to the acetic acid. It is great for removing dyes and any bright stains due to its bleaching action.
If you spill some on colored clothing, you'll want to remove the juice before it causes permanent discoloration. However, you can use either type of juice on white fabrics to help remove yellow underarm stains or rust stains.
Head to the medicine cabinet for the hydrogen peroxide as a good alternative to the much harsher chlorine bleach when you need to whiten clothes. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an oxidizing agent that can be used as a bleach. The 3% solution sold in drug stores as a first aid disinfectant is the best choice for the laundry as well. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen and is a more environmentally safe alternative to chlorine bleach.
Hydrogen peroxide works well in removing underarm yellowing and the dye from nail polish, curry, and red wine stains.
Talc, Chalk, or Cornstarch:
Talcum powder or baby powder, kitchen cornstarch or plain white chalk are wonderful natural treatments for helping to absorb oily stains. If you catch the oil or grease drip on fabric promptly, they can even remove it!
Simply sprinkle the oily stain liberally with baby powder, talcum powder or cornstarch or rub the area with white chalk. Allow it to sit on the stain for at least ten minutes to absorb the oil; then simple brush away. Later, wash or dry clean the garment following care label directions.
Simple table salt works in the laundry as a mild abrasive element for stain removal of rust and red wine stains and to absorb liquid stains before they set. It also helps break down proteins such as blood.
Sprinkle your stain liberally with table salt. Use the cheapest salt you can find. Let it absorb the liquid and then brush away before you wash the item. You can also rinse the stain and use salt as an abrasive to help break down the stain. Remember, if you don't wash it out, salt can leave white stains on your fabric.