Natural stain removers

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Natural stain removers

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.
Removing coloured stains
The following tips suggest ways to remove coloured food and drink stains. Berry fruit, coffee, tea, and red wine are among the most tiresome but, if you act quickly, they can be removed without recourse to chemicals.

• Apply a dab of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to the stain, or soak the stain in a "soft chemistry" bleach before laundering.

• For wine stains on clothes, pour salt onto the affected area to absorb the moisture before soaking the garment in a "soft chemistry" bleach. Or splash with soda water, then launder.

• For old red wine stains, try using the glycerine method given for chocolate stains. This stain-removal technique also works for beet, red cabbage, and dark fruit stains.

• When red wine is spilled on carpet, mop up the excess liquid and then pour white wine over the patch to saturate it. Let the wine soak into the carpet fibres for 10 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

• To remove tea or coffee stains, work glycerine into the area. Leave the glycerine to soak into the fabric, and then rinse out with warm water.

• For tea-stained upholstery, use homemade borax stain remover. Treat coffee stains in the same way.

• Soak grass stains in glycerine before laundering. This works well on baseball and football uniforms, which are prone to grass staining. Soak in a solution of washing soda (4 oz/110 g to 1.5 gallons/5 litres water), then rinse.

• Dabbing a soft fruit juice stain with freshly squeezed lemon juice will bleach out the colour naturally.

Removing grease stains
The following tips work on greasy makeup stains, candle wax spills, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil, and engine oil.

• Pretreat the fabric with baking soda paste (4 tablespoons of baking soda in 4 tablespoons of water), then soak in warm water with a "soft chemistry" washing powder. For the machine-wash, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to your laundry detergent.

• Dab pure ethanol alcohol on obstinate stains.

• Draw out ordinary grease stains by covering with a generous sprinkling of fuller's earth powder. Leave it on for several hours or overnight, then brush off with a stiff bristle brush. This also works well on cooking fat.

• Dab lipstick stains with eucalyptus oil. Leave the oil to soak in before laundering the garment. Lipstick and cosmetic stains can also be treated as for grass stains.

• White handkerchiefs and table napkins stained with lipstick can be boiled clean in hot water.

• Treat oil, tar, and grass stains with a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Rub the essential oil into the stain, then launder the fabric as usual.

• Rub lard into tar stains, then wash the article, adding 2 tablespoons of washing soda to your laundry detergent.

• To remove wax stains, place brown paper over the wax stain and melt it with a warm iron. It will lift off onto the paper.

Page 2 of 3 - Read page three to find out how to finally get rid of sweat 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. Common household stains
Most sticky household stains and coloured marks can be removed using natural ingredients and the bleaching effect of sunlight. You should rarely need to use chemical bleach or any of the proprietary stain removers on the market.

• For sticky substances such as glue or chewing gum, first scratch off as much of the substance as possible, then use a citrus cleaner.

• Chewing gum on clothes may also be treated by holding the affected item over a steaming saucepan until the gum is soft enough to pull off, taking particular care not to damage fabric that has a pile. Alternatively, place the garment in the freezer compartment. When the chewing gum is frozen, it can be lifted.

• Remove laundry detergent residues (left on fabric when washed in an over-full machine) by giving the item a second rinse.

• Scrape off shoe polish, then dab the affected area with neat ethanol alcohol.

• Soak rust stains for 20-30 minutes in a solution made from the juice of 1 lemon mixed with 1 heaped tablespoon of table salt. Rub well, then wash and dry outside in the sun to bleach. Repeat the process until the stain has disappeared.

• Soak sweat stains in water to which 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice, or a handful of baking soda, has been added. Wash the article according to the care instructions on the label.

• House paint spills:
Always act on paint spills while paint is still wet. Oil paints can be removed with turpentine, although once the paint is dry this natural solvent will not have an effect. Sometimes a hot vinegar solution will remove oil paint that has just dried. Latex paint spills should be soaked in cold water first, and then gently rubbed off with a sponge and straight turpentine.

Scorch marks
Remove scorch marks with the simplest of remedies – lemon juice or sunlight.

• When ironing fabrics on too hot a setting, you may scorch the material. If the scorching is light, and the affected item is 100 per cent cotton, such as a napkin, the lemon juice method works well. First soak the scorched area in pure, freshly squeezed lemon juice. Rinse out in warm water and then leave outside to dry in sunlight and benefit from the bleaching action of the sun. Alternatively, use a "soft chemistry" bleach.

• Apply lemon juice to the scorched area and place in the sun. Then machine-wash with a "soft-chemistry" detergent.

Page 3 of 3

Check out these 45 things you can do with salt in your home.

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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Natural stain removers