Natural Stain Remover Kit
This is your natural stain remover list for green cleaning. There are many reasons for choosing to use natural stain removers. Foremost among them may be safeguarding your family’s health. Not all chemical cleaners are inherently bad or dangerous, nor are all “natural” cleaning materials safe and risk-free. But many harsh cleaning products come with such a long list of warnings that it only makes sense to avoid exposure to them as much as possible. Chemical sensitivity is a growing concern and, for sensitive individuals especially, avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals may be a medical necessity. Click here to read more reasons to use natural stain removers.
Natural Stain Removers
Soap (pure) – A mildly alkaline cleanser; useful for loosening oily or greasy stains; should not be used on fruit stains, as it will set them.
Lemon juice - nature's bleach and disinfectant. Mild acid with gentle bleaching properties; traditionally used on alkaline stains such as coffee and tea or combined with salt to lift red wine spots; should be used with caution, if at all, on acid-sensitive fabrics (cotton, linen, rayon) and on acetate, silk, and wool.
White distilled vinegar – whitens/lightens. This is the only variety of vinegar that can be used for stain removal. The others will add stains, not take them away! White vinegar is particularly effective on old perspiration stains and for neutralizing pet stains and odors on carpets or upholstery. It can also help restore color that has been damaged by the stain itself or by the treatment process.
Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent type) – whitens/lightens. A mild bleach; good for spot treatment and “touching up” marks left after other stain removal treatments have done a partial job; safe for most fabrics; loses its potency over time – buy only what you need, and discard any solution leftover after treating a stain.
Cornstarch – absorbs grease and protein stains. Silky textures powder used as a thickener in puddings, sauces and soups; another handy absorbent that travels well from the kitchen to wherever it’s need to soak up wet or oily stains; a word of caution, however: its fine texture can make it difficult to get out of carpet and upholstery fibers.
Baking soda – good for smells and grease. The same ingredient you use to make your cookies rise also has applications as a stain treatment; mildly alkaline with deodorizing abilities; works as a mild abrasive and as an absorbent for liquid or greasy stains; safe for almost any surface or fabric.
Borax – use on acid and protein stains. A mildly alkaline powder most often used as a laundry booster to enhance soil removal; a reasonably good deodorizer; useful in some stain removal applications.
Salt – eliminates sweaty odor, abrasive cleaner. Mildly abrasive; absorbent; may be combined with lemon juice or vinegar to clean tarnish; may be poured over coffee or red wine spills; forms a salt water solution for soaking stained washables.
Glycerin – loosens old stains. Particularly useful for stains on carpets and upholstery, glycerin softens hardened stains. It is especially effective for mustard and curry stains, and is available in pharmacies.
Enzyme soak – these products break down protein stains, such as blood, grass, and baby formula. A laundry detergent that contains enzymes can also be used for presoaking.
Club soda – bubbles lift acidic stains. This popular drink mixer helps fizz away stains such as berries, alcohol, coffee, tea and red wine; safe and odorless; a good first treatment for old or mystery stains. Watch out for sweeteners and flavorings when shopping for club soda – you need the plain stuff for stain treatment.
Start Mild for Non-Toxic Stain Removal
Conventional stain removers are petroleum-based and contain many of the same harsh chemicals as detergents. What’s more, in their quest to treat all stains equally, they are often ineffective. The general rule for effective and non-toxic natural stain removal is to treat the stain as soon as you can and start as mild as possible.
The first step is to scrape or absorb by dabbing (not rubbing) any part of the stain that hasn’t yet penetrated the fabric. A knife or cloth works well, depending on the substance. For greasy stains, try cornstarch to absorb the oil. For older stains, apply glycerin to loosen the stain for easier removal.
Next, hold a colorfast towel behind the stain to absorb it and use another towel to dab ice-cold water on the front of the stain. If that doesn’t do it, the next step is to continue to hold the towel behind the stain and apply an ice cube to the front of the stain. For many stains, this is all it takes. If there is only a faint stain left on a white garment, apply white vinegar with a cotton swab. The vinegar is a whitener and may take care of it.
If that’s not enough, you’ll need to try less-mild solutions, but pretest the fabric in an inconspicuous place to make sure your chosen technique won’t ruin the fabric.
Reasons to Use Natural Stain Removers
Natural stain removal can save you money too. It replaces an arsenal of chemicals with knowledge, common sense, and a few basic cleaning products, many of which you may already have in your home. A number of these household cleaners are inexpensive, especially compared to commercial cleaning products. Baking soda, for example, is an excellent and safe abrasive cleaner that can be used to gently scour spots off many surfaces; it’s also useful for absorbing liquid spills and neutralizing acid stains. You can buy a large box of baking soda for the same price as (or less than) the smallest-sized bottle of a popular liquid scrubbing product – and the baking soda has more uses and none of the harsh chemical additives found in the commercial product!
It’s also more convenient to use common household products. You can quickly reach for the baking soda, grab the salt shaker, or stir some white vinegar into water instead of running to the store for a stain-removal product, or spending part of your shopping excursion pondering the differences between products.
Protecting the environment is another good reason for using a natural stain remover. Many of the cleaning products in use twenty to thirty years ago are no longer on the market. Why? Because we discovered that they harm the environment, often in ways that only became apparent after years of use. Although not all natural stain removers are entirely harmless, as a group they pose far fewer hazards to the environment than do the complex chemical compounds that make up most commercial cleaning products.
Removing stains naturally is both easier and harder than reaching for a bottle of the latest commercially available stain-busting concoction. It’s easier because you can treat spills quickly and simply, thus stopping them from ever becoming stains. It’s harder in that there is no “magic bullet” for difficult stains; no all-purpose, safe chemical creation to answer the wide array of substances that seem intent upon leaving their mark on our clothing, carpets and upholstery.
As you can see, there are many reasons to go green, so why not try a natural stain remover first - it may be all you need!
Carpet Stain Removers
Fabric Stain Removers
Clothes Stain Removers
Laundry Stain Removers
Commercial Stain Remover A-Z
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