Natural Stain Removal

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Natural cleaners can remove tough stains like this.
Natural cleaners can remove tough stains like this.

Stains are a fact of life. Food stains are one of the most common followed closely by grease-based stains. Both types can be removed with natural stain removers using ingredients that are in your pantry. These nontoxic cleaners are often the active ingredient in chemical cleaners but do not have the harsh ingredients that are often unnecessary.

Basic stain removal techniques

Blotting is the preferred method of removing stains from fabrics. Blotting absorbs the stains directly from the fibers and does not smear it or press it into the fiber like scrubbing will. It also keeps delicate fabrics from stretching or fraying. Blotting a stain can remove most of it without having to use any cleaners.

Time is the other basic technique for stain removal, especially when using natural cleaners. The cleaner needs time to break down the compounds in the stain, so most often it needs to be left for a little while. Patience is key when removing stains.

Common cleaning ingredients

Vinegar is the most common ingredient in natural cleaners, and for good reason. Vinegar is gentle on most fabric and does not eat away at fibers if left on for too long. It also kills most bacteria, molds and germs. It is environmentally friendly and does not irritate the skin.

Baking soda is the second most common ingredient because of its natural deodorizing properties. Applying straight baking soda to a smelly stain, such as urine, will absorb the scent instead of masking it like most chemical deodorizers do. Mixed with vinegar, baking soda is able to eat away at many common stains.

Removing food stains

Removing food stains such as fruit, juice and other water-based food stains is simple with vinegar. Pour vinegar directly through the fabric then rinse in cold water or dip a cloth in vinegar and gently blot until the stain fades away. Vinegar can even be used to brush stains from suede and other soft leathers.

Stubborn stains can be treated with a paste made from vinegar and baking soda. Left to sit on the stain for 30 minutes or longer, it will eat away at the enzymes that cause the stain. Rinse and wash as usual afterward to remove the excess vinegar.

Removing grease stains

Rubbing alcohol combats most grease stains. Grease stains include oils from food, petroleum products, and even pen ink. The rubbing alcohol is poured directly on the stain and left to sit until the stain begins to fade. It can also be blotted onto upholstery or carpets to remove much of the grease.

Grease works into fibers, resurfacing again after a few washes. Rinsing the stain with vinegar after removing the grease with alcohol will neutralize the grease so that it doesn't continue to resurface and stain the fabric all over again.

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