A child’s laundry basket is home to an assortment of stains, spots, strange colors and unwelcome odors. But most stain removers on the market contain hazardous ingredients and make questionable claims. What’s a parent to do?
Here are our top tips for removing your family’s toughest laundry stains – at home and without the harmful chemicals:
Use lemons to cut grease and get a mild bleaching effect.
- To remove a spot, apply a paste of salt and lemon juice, or baking soda and lemon juice.
- To bleach, soak fabrics in 1/3 cup lemon juice and 2/3 cup water (or equal parts lemon juice and water), then wash as usual.
- As with any spot remover, test first on a hidden area to make sure it won’t harm the fiber or color.
Use white vinegar to deodorize and cut grease.
- Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to get rid of brown or yellow spots (lemon juice works, too).
- For more punch, dab undiluted vinegar on fabric using a cloth or sponge.
Dry clothes in the sun for natural bleaching action.
Use hydrogen peroxide to tackle fruit, juice, blood and grass stains.
- Mix 1 tsp. dish soap and 1 cup hydrogen peroxide. Blot the mixture onto the stain, placing a towel underneath the garment. This helps the mixture soak up the stain from underneath.
More tips and tricks for removing fabric stains:
- Keep it simple: Try scraping the solid bits off of any stained fabric. Most stains will come out using this method alone.
- Pre-soak stained fabrics in water (a natural solvent), then pre-treat in a solution of dish or laundry liquid mixed with water, or a paste of powder detergent and water. Quickly treat protein-based stains, such as blood, vomit, urine, feces or mucus, with cold water to stop them from setting in.
- Get rid of stains using the same laundry detergent you would typically use for washing. Many detergents have directions right on the package for pre-treating stains and spots. Rub detergent into the fabric with an old toothbrush or any other tool that applies a bit of friction. Then rinse and repeat.
- Wash stained clothing in warm water. Detergent can’t do its job as well in cold water.
- To remove mud or clay, wash with powder detergents.
- When applying a stain remover directly to clothing, treat the reverse side of the fabric. This will force the stain off the fabric, not through
- Save yourself some trouble: When possible, avoid synthetic polyester and nylon clothing. It is notoriously difficult to remove stains from these fabrics.
- Stay safe: Don’t mix ammonia, vinegar or other acids with bleach! These combinations can produce toxic gases.