Our cleaning crews tell us that some of the most common questions they are asked is about stain removal. While there are some strong products on the market that will shift them (as with all our cleaning products), we prefer to use natural stain removal treatments where possible – it’s nicer for the environment, and nicer for your home. Here are our five favourite natural stain removal methods.
Warning: always do a patch test first, as different dyes and fabrics can react in different ways.
- Natural Alternatives to Bleach
Bleach may be a very effective stain remover but not only does it stink, it breaks down fibres in fabrics and can ruin them. Instead of bleach, try using vinegar. Whites can be brightened by soaking overnight in a solution of one cup of white vinegar in several litres of hot, but not boiling, water. Wash clothes as normal the following day, and hang in the sun to dry if possible. An alternative is to add a cup of hydrogen peroxide to a washing machine that has filled with water.
Stubborn stains can be lifted by adding a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda directly onto your washing inside your washing machine. Vinegar and baking soda can also be mixed into a paste and left to sit on stains before washing.
- Remove Makeup Stains
You know when you come in from a late night too tired to remove your makeup, only to find the following morning that your pillowcase has done it for you? All you need is a smear of petroleum jelly and a rub with a damp cloth and your mascara and lipstick should lift right out of cotton based sheets and clothing. Be sparing with the petroleum jelly, as too much of it can cause a stain of its own.
There’s no need to get rid of your favourite top if you get foundation on it. If the makeup is oil based, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub with a nail brush. Repeat two or three times until the baking soda has soaked up the oil. Once you’re left with only the pigment, spray with hairspray and rub gently with a damp light coloured cloth. Hairspray is also fantastic for lifting biro and texta marks. Follow with a pre-wash treatment and wash as normal.
- Lift Limescale
If you live in a hard water area you’ll appreciate what a pain in the backside limescale can be, but the solution is as simple as white vinegar. Soak a cloth and wrap around the base of taps, or fill a plastic bag and attach to a showerhead or the spout of a tap with an elastic band and allow to soak, overnight if possible. This should soften the build up enough for you to scrub it away with an old toothbrush, leaving your taps sparkling.
Brighten taps and shower glass by spraying with vinegar or wiping with a cut lemon. The acidic elements dissolve the calcium carbonate deposits.
- Brighten a grimy porcelain sink
Cream of Tartar is used in cooking to stabilise whipped egg whites, but it also makes a nifty way of brightening grimy and discoloured porcelain sinks and baths. Make a paste of equal parts cream of tartar and white vinegar, then spread over the area and rub with a cloth. It also works well on stainless steel sinks. You can buy cream of tartar from supermarkets, but if you like it as a cleaning agent it’s worth finding an online source to buy it in bulk.
- Getting rid of Grass and Mud Stains
Kids love playing outdoors, which is great until you see the knees and seats of their pants. The chlorophyll in grass makes it an especially tricky stain to remove. The key is to successfully removing grass stains is to treat them as quickly as possible. Mix hydrogen peroxide with dishwashing liquid or hand soap. Test this mixture in an inconspicuous area as the peroxide can lighten darker clothing, while coloured soap can create its own stain. Soak the stained area in this mixture for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing with a nail brush or old toothbrush. Rinse in cold water (heat will set the stain), and repeat the soaking/scrubbing/rinsing process until the grass stain has gone.
Hot or Cold Water?
As a rule of thumb use cold water for most stains, especially those that are protein based like blood. Heat will set stains, sometimes permanently.
Rinsing fabric from the inside out will wash the stain away from the fibres rather than further into them. Always patch test before using any treatment, and if you are rubbing or scrubbing, do it gently so you don’t damage the fabric.