The easiest, do-it-all, eco-friendly stain remover just involves cold water and a couple of towels. But, some stains call for more extreme action. Here are a few tricks.
First, it’s a good idea to keep an eco-friendly stain removal kit on hand to help you act fast. Here’s a great one:
- Castile soap — the mildest soap
- White distilled vinegar — whitens and lightens
- Hydrogen peroxide — whitens and lightens
- Cornstarch — absorbs grease and protein stains
- Baking and washing soda — good for odors and grease
- Salt — good for sweat or when you need an abrasive cleaner
- Glycerin — loosens old stains
- Enzyme soak — eats protein stains like dairy products, eggs, and (in my family, at least) baby poop
- Club soda — great for use on rugs
Red wine, juice or berries
This one is actually kind of fun and can liven up a boring dinner party — just be careful you don’t burn anyone! Pull the stained fabric taut over the kitchen sink. Have someone stand on a chair and pour boiling water over the stain from about 2-3 feet above it. Magic! This will also work for stubborn coffee and tea stains. If this seems too dramatic or disruptive, hold a towel behind the stain as you blot it with club soda.
Mama mia, tomato sauce can be a tough stain! Use a knife to scrape off whatever hasn’t been absorbed. Hold a towel behind the stain as you dab it with diluted castile soap. Then soak in cool water and launder as usual.
I’m sure the sushi was good, but the soy sauce drips don’t add anything to your look. Use a toothbrush to work diluted castile soap into the fabric. Flush with cold water. Do the same with vinegar if the stain persists.
Yellow may have made a comeback in the fashion world but yellow armpits are decidedly out. Try soaking in cold salty water. Then wash as usual. To prevent sweaty clothes from becoming yellow stained, hang them out to dry instead of using the machine. The lower temperature and the sun’s bleaching power prevent the sweat from yellowing the garment.
Chocolate and ice cream stains
In fact, it is worth crying over spilled ice cream or chocolate, and the stain just adds insult to injury. Use a knife to scrape off any unabsorbed food. Wet area with water and castile soap. Scrub with a toothbrush. If the stain persists, spray with an enzyme cleaner and launder as usual.
Sometimes stain removal involves a bit of trial and error so if one technique isn’t working, try something else. Just be sure to test whatever you are using on a small part of the fabric before treating the stain. If all else fails, you might want to find an eco-friendly dye. Who doesn’t need another black shirt?
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.