Stains are big business in the laundry world, especially if you ever wear white, own a carpet or live within 5 miles of a child. Most washing detergents advertising is based around how good they are at removing stains, but there are also a plethora of stain removers on the market, suggesting that even the most chemical leaden commercial brands need an extra boost from time to time.
So it stands to reason that even the best of the eco alternatives will also come across a stain that requires a little more oomph. But do not fear it is perfectly possible to tackle those stains using earth/waterway/skin friendly methods.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- The first piece of sage advice is, no matter what method of stain removal you are using, treat the stain asap (if not even sooner than that!) The longer you wait the cosier that pesky stain gets, and the harder it is to evict.
- Any stain treatment you are using should be pretested on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first
- Do not rub at the stain before you treat it, this just works the stain further into the cloth fibres
- Stains have a type, and therefore will be suited to different types/methods of stain removals. Is the stain oil based, protein based, fruit based?
- Avoid heat, apply heat to the stain can set it further and make it almost impossible to remove.
As with our previous laundry blogs, we will start with some suggestions that are more conventional for a first step outside the comfort zone.
This is an 'Out of the tube' spot on treatment. But it is formulated using plant extracts, no toxic gentle ingredients instead of chemicals, it is they say, safe to use on all fabrics, kind to skin and the environment and tackles a wide range of stains.
Exactly the same concept brings us the EcoZones stain remover. Again it is free from toxic chemicals, it is biodegradable, certified vegan and cruelty free, doesn't contain phosphates or nasty fragrances. Just apply to the stain, work in, leave for 10 mins and wash as usual.
Ecoegg also do a new Instant stain remover. This is also free from harsh chemicals, dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic. It cuts through stains with just a few sprays and works on all kinds of stains from ink to berry stains to red wine. It is certainly one of the best stain removers we have ever tried, natural or otherwise!
For those of you willing to explore a little further then take a trip back in time with us as many of these are actually traditional solutions that would have been widely used a couple of generations back.
Oxygen Bleach, now I know this has the word bleach in its name but it is not the same as the very toxic chlorine bleach that people are generally most familiar with. It is made from Soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide. It is usually found in a powder form and when mixed with water it produces... oxygen! The oxygen then gets busy being bubbles and lifting the stain out of the fabric as it passes through. Great for treating inks, dyes, fruits, drinks. Not generally recommended for use of delicate fabrics.
White Vinegar. We mentioned this in the Fabric Conditioners section, but it is a laundry hero as it is also great for many stains too. Super for removing plant based stains so fruit juices, teas, coffee, wine, also great for mould and mildew stains but also useful for the more icky stains, blood, sick, sweat, urine...
Soda Crystals. A scoop of these added to your wash will boost the stain removal power of your detergent of choice. They are also great for tea and coffee stains, mud, cooking fat, blood. For spot on treatment make the soda crystals into a paste with equal parts water and spread over the stain. Leave for a while, up to 30 mins bad then wash as usual.
Bicarbonate of Soda. Especially good for deodorising and cleaning large stains on things like carpets or upholstery. Simply shake on dry to mop up liquids before vacuuming up or make into a paste, and rinse out.
What about keeping your whites white and not fading to grey? This can be helped by adding some lemon juice to your wash about 120ml to a load of washing should be ok. And for this - and fading out any stains, drying in the sun (when available!) also helps.
Some other interesting tips we have come across include -
Candle wax - Pop some brown paper over the wax and iron the paper with a warm iron.
To remove lipstick from fabric, cut off the crusts from a slice of white bread, roll bread into a ball and then blot the lipstick stain, this should lift the lipstick stain from the fabric. (Havent tried this one personally...maybe my husband has?? ;) )
If you have chewing gum on your favourite trousers, pop them in the freezer! After a few hours the gum should be brittle enough to scrape off quite easily with a knife, carefully of course!
Milk is great for ink stains, just soak the item in milk - it may take a while - but the stain should then wash out.
So there you have it! Your washing from start to finish, in an more eco friendly, in most cases a more pocket friendly, clothes friendly and health friendly way. Whats not to love? I really hope that you will give some of these a fair go. Not everything is going to be a great fit for everyone (or else there wouldnt be powder, liquids, tabs etc available from the commercial brands), so have a play with it, experiment and see what works for you. And whilst they might not help with making doing the laundry less of a chore, at least you can feel good about doing it, knowing you are helping your home environment as well as the environment at large.
If there is anything you think we have missed out of this series or a tip or product you would like to share with us, we would live to hear from you, just get in touch with us via the contact page. Thanks for reading!