Given how many requests I receive for eco-friendly stain removal advice, I thought I would share with you my top three stain-removing formulas. They replace solvents, bleach and store-bought stain removers.
1. Washing Soda
Great for stains that you’d normally think need something as strong as a solvent to remove. A chemical relative of baking soda, washing soda (sodium carbonate) is also known as soda ash. Find it in the laundry section of the supermarket.
Washing soda is much more strongly alkaline than baking soda. You should wear gloves when you use it — but note that washing soda is also far safer than commercial solvents because it releases no harmful fumes, and it is a great substitute for solvents because it is strong enough to remove wax from a floor or pull engine oil from a garage floor.
Directions for using washing soda as a stain remover:
Paste: Mix 3 tablespoons of washing soda with ¼ cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and scrub onto the spot. Let the mixture set on the stain for a number of hours before washing/cleaning as usual.
Spray: Place 1 teaspoon of washing soda in a spray bottle and dissolve with ¼ cup of very hot water to dissolve. Shake to blend. Spray on spot and let set for several hours before washing/cleaning as usual.
2. Sodium Perborate
Sodium perborate is a great bleach alternative and my go-to mineral if I am looking for something that whitens and removes stains at the same time. Follow the same directions for using washing soda.
3. Digestive Enzymes
Protein combined with carbohydrates make stains that are very hard to remove. Think chocolate, or coffee with cream. Digestive enzymes work on stains the same way they do in the stomach — by digesting proteins and carbohydrates.
Health food stores sell prepared enzyme stain remover products made from “natural” enzymes that have been custom-made for removing certain types of stains. Or you can buy just the enzymes (use pepsin/papain for protein stains and amylase for carbohydrate stains) and make my simple “Eat-it-Up Enzyme” paste — just grind up the enzymes and mix with enough water to make a paste to cover the stain.
For more tips and tricks on getting out many other specific kinds of stains, read