Natural stain removers

Natural, homemade stain removers can be extremely effective. Here are tips on how to remove stains from clothing, carpets, furniture and other household items.

By Rosamond Richardson

Natural stain removers: How to get out egg and blood stains
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There are several "soft chemistry" stain removers to turn to in an emergency. These contain solvents based on ethanol (the same alcohol that is present in wine and beer), which breaks down rapidly in the environment and has no known side effect. Glycerine, a by-product of soap manufacture, is an effective cleaning agent that is available from most drugstores. Washing soda is one of the oldest products used for cleaning. It is also a natural water softener and helps remove grease as well as dirt. Turpentine is a mild, natural solvent for oily stains. As well as being effective on fabric, it can be used to clean brushes used with oil paints, and its method of production encourages sustainable forestry practices.

The water treatment
Nature's greatest solvent is water, and this, coupled with speedy action on your part, is the key to successful stain removal. When an accident occurs, do the following:

• Mop up any excess at once with absorbent paper towel.

• Soak the stained area with lukewarm water (not hot – this may "cook" the stain and set it.) Soda water and sparkling water are both excellent solvents, especially for treating red wine spills and removing pet stains.

• Never rub hard – just dab, so as not to damage fibres.

• Work the stain from the inside outward.

Removing protein stains
To remove stains such as blood and egg (but not butter, which is a grease stain), try the following. Do not use hot water and apply a soap-based or salt solution before washing.

• Egg stains on clothes and soft furnishings respond well to a solution of borax (see below) or to soaking in salt water. Scrape off as much egg as you can first with a dull blade before treating the fabric.

• The albumen protein in bloodstains is broken down by salt, so soak in cold salty water while the stain is fresh.

• Chocolate stains can be easily removed with lukewarm soapy water or borax solution, or try using glycerine. Soak the stained fabric in a bowl if glycerine for 30 minutes, then rinse out.

• For a dried-on protein stain, dab with a little ammonia diluted with cold water.

Homemade borax stain remover
This stain remover works well on protein stains. Have a supply ready-mixed for emergency stain removal.

You will need:
1 oz (25 g) borax
1 pint (500 ml) cold water

1. Fill a bottle with the correct quantity of water, and add the borax.

2. Replace the bottle cap and shake the solution well, to mix.

3. Dab the solution onto the stain with a clean cloth. Leave to dry, then launder.

Page 1 of 3 - Read page two to learn how to remove tough grease stains!


Excerpted from Organic Home by Rosamond Richardson. Excerpted with permission from Dorling Kindersley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.


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