Any household laundry routine is a little better off with some good stain removal techniques. Whether you have pets, kids, enjoy being outdoors, or are a little clumsy during meals, you’re bound to wrestle with stains from time to time.
The laundry aisle in any major store is full of different stain removal products to treat pesky laundry stains. And while most of them work very well, they are also known to contain ingredients with potential for negative health effects. Among these effects are developmental, endocrine, and reproductive problems. Many of the commercial products are also full of artificial fragrances which can cause respiratory effects, skin irritations, or nervous system effects.
For a DIY-er who is concerned with ingredients in every product I use, I’d prefer to use more natural stain removers. I’ll give you simple techniques for five tricky laundry stains you may encounter, and I’ll also suggest some all-purpose options we like.
Beat 5 Stains Naturally
A few natural household ingredients and a few simple steps will fight some common stains that can generally be problematic.
Note: Keep in mind that sometimes it’s best to allow stained garments to air dry after washing them. That way, if a stain remains you can continue to work on it and it won’t be set in by the heat of the dryer.
Rinse stain with cold water. Rub a bar of white soap (like this homemade laundry bar) onto the stain. Work soap into stain vigorously, and rinse again with cold water. Launder as usual or lay out to dry if stain is completely gone.
Red Wine Stains
Apply salt to the stain and lay over a bowl. (I use kosher salt.) Pour boiling water over the stain until it disappears. Launder as usual.
Gently brush off any loose dirt. Pretreat with your normal laundry detergent. (If you use powdered detergent, add water and work it into the stain.) Allow it to sit or throw it directly into the washer.
Lay the garment on a clean rag or piece of paper towel. Blot stain with alcohol. (I use a high proof grain alcohol like Everclear, but you can also use rubbing alcohol.) The stain will begin to transfer to the rag or towel underneath it. Continue blotting with alcohol until stain is very faint. Rinse and wash as usual.
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, a few drops of lemon essential oil, and enough water to make a paste. Mix and spread the paste over the stain. Rub it in, and allow to dry before washing.
You can also use hydrogen peroxide (3%) for sweat stains. Pour or spray directly onto the stain and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Launder as usual.
All-Purpose Stain Removers
If you’re looking for an all-purpose stain remover to keep on hand, we have a few things we use.
- Homemade Laundry Bar: This is an excellent stain remover. After making them, we cut them into sticks so they’re easy to rub on stains right before laundering. I always keep one in the kitchen (to use on food stains that occur while cooking or eating) and one right next to the washing machine. Find the recipe and instructions for this laundry bar here.
- Soap Nuts Concentrated Cleaner: If you’re already using soap nuts for your laundry or to clean the rest of your home, chances are you’ll have extra soap nuts with which you can make a concentrated cleaner. You can keep a small amount in the laundry area and treat stains with it. (It actually goes bad after a few weeks, so you don’t want to store large batches.) Don’t know what soap nuts are? Read more here and see our recipe for a concentrated cleaner.
- Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent: Our homemade laundry detergent also works beautifully to treat a multitude of stains. I simply sprinkle it directly on a stain and work the detergent into the stain with a wet toothbrush. (Of course, the toothbrush is designated for laundry only.) Find our homemade laundry detergent recipe here.
Have you used any of these stain removal tricks? What are your favorite ways to beat stains?