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Natural Year Challenge: Household - Month Seven

Remove Stains NaturallyNatural Stain Removal

We all experience accidental spills on our favorite clothing or carpeting. If you've made the switch away from chemicals and bleach in your home, no doubt you've encountered some problems with stain removal. What can you use to treat that blood on the carpeting or that grass stain on your child's jeans? With a little trial and error, you'll be surprised at your ability to remove or reduce even the most daunting stains.

Chemistry of Stain Removal

In order to find the best solution, it's helpful to consider the chemistry behind the cleaning. On the pH scale, 7.0 is neutral. Anything above this is alkaline; anything below is acidic. Here are some examples of the pH factors of various familiar natural compounds. (Note: bleach has a pH of 12.6.)

pH DiagramWe know that an acid neutralizes an alkaline and vice versa. Therefore, white vinegar is best used for an alkaline stain such as grass, while baking soda works best on acidic stains (and odors) such as pet urine. If pet stains are permitted to dry they will become alkaline, in which case white vinegar is optimal.

Forms of Stain Removal
  • Blotting: Blotting is the best way to treat carpet stains. Blot with clean fabric or paper towels. Stand on or place heavy book on stain if needed, but do not rub. Repeat using fresh towels/fabric. When using minerals such as baking soda, sprinkle and allow to dry. Vacuum. If baking soda residue remains, spray diluted white vinegar. Allow to dry and vacuum again. Blotting may be used on some laundry stains as well.
  • Paste: Combine dry material with enough water to make a paste. Cream of tartar and baking soda work well this way. Pastes work best for stains that are set. Apply paste and allow it to sit overnight. Launder as usual.
  • Soaks: Stubborn laundry stains can be left soaking in alkaline or acidic solutions overnight. The website Safe Natural Tips suggests a general protocol of pre-soaking laundry with 1/2 cup borax in the washer. Allow to set for 30-60 minutes, then wash as usual.
  • Sprays: Liquid solutions such as hydrogen peroxide and club soda are effective stain removers. Keep a spray bottle of each on hand.
  • Soap: Rub a bar of castile soap onto stain and allow to soak, or wash as usual. Vegetable glycerin (a natural by-product of soap) is effective as well.

Specifics of Stain Removal

The following suggestions are adapted from a list in the book Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond.

  • Baby Formula: Washing soda, borax, castile soap.
  • Berries: Washing soda, borax, castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, glycerin.
  • Blood: Washing soda, borax, club soda, hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, cold water.
  • Butter/Grease: Washing soda, glycerin as prewash, castile soap.
  • Chewing Gum: Freeze, then pull off.
  • Chocolate: Washing soda, hydrogen peroxide.
  • Coffee and Tea: Washing soda, borax, club soda, hydrogen peroxide.
  • Crayons: Glycerin as prewash, heat with hair dryer and wipe off, mix baking soda with soap.
  • Egg: Cold water, washing soda, cream of tartar paste.
  • Fruit: Washing soda, borax, club soda, castile soap.
  • Grass: White vinegar, cream of tartar, glycerin, milk.
  • Ink: Milk, white vinegar or lemon juice and salt, cream of tartar, soap and water. For ballpoint ink, soak in vodka.
  • Lipstick: Glycerin, baking soda, liquid soap mixed with baking soda to make paste.
  • Mold/Mildew: Borax, hydrogen peroxide.
  • Mustard: Loosen with soap or glycerin, follow with washing soda.
  • Paint: White vinegar, milk, lemon juice, cream of tartar, glycerin.
  • Perspiration: Washing soda, borax, castile soap. Older perspiration stains may respond to white vinegar.
  • Rust: White vinegar, milk, lemon juice, cream of tartar.
  • Sugar: Cold water only.
  • Tomato Sauce: Washing soda, borax, baking soda.
  • Urine: Washing soda, borax, baking soda.
  • Wine: Washing soda, borax, castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, glycerin.

With a few supplies and a little know-how, you'll be ready for any stains and spills that come your way!

Is this video, Andrea offers tips for natural stain removal
and demonstrates some of the chemistry behind the stains.


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"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

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"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

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– Brenda

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

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