You’re efficient at multitasking; your laundry products should be too. If you’re like millions of other Americans, buying a customized stain remover for every type of grime your family can find to throw at you is not only out of the question — it’s out of the budget as well. And if you’re someone who prides yourself on the brightness of your family’s whites and on your own ability to own and wear the same piece of clothing over and over, you need reliable stain-removing options for the laundry room. Luckily, most of them are already affordably tucked away in your kitchen or bathroom cupboards.
1. Isopropyl Alcohol Solves Ink
Once used for everything from treating fevers to cleaning surgical instruments, isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, actually has a surprising number of uses around the house. Most people are aware that it’s an antiseptic, hence its inclusion in your first aid kit. What you may not realize is that rubbing alcohol is also a solvent, meaning it’s great at dissolving difficult stains on all kinds of surfaces, including your favorite rainy-day hoodie or fluffiest pillowcase. Rubbing alcohol, used straight from the bottle or diluted with water, will remove stubborn nail polish and ink stains and can even get rid of permanent marker. Simply soak the offending stain in the alcohol for several minutes, blot dry, and wash in cold water.
2. Lemon Juice Loves Sunlight
Got wine? If so, you’ve probably also had a stain or two. And when your favorite red wine comes into contact with your favorite white jacket, it can put a damper on the night’s festivities. Happily, all it takes to combat many stains on white fabric is a simple combination of lemon juice, kosher salt, water, and sunlight. Simply wet the stain down nicely with water, squeeze on the juice of a lemon and rub in a little salt as an abrasive. Rinse, add more lemon juice and hang your whites out to dry on a bright, sunny day.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide Babies Bibs
Another staple of many bathroom medicine cabinets, hydrogen peroxide uses a chemical reaction to oxidize with many types of organic stains, including blood, vomit, and spit-up (think of all those adorable, little baby bibs and burp cloths) to release and remove them. You can combine hydrogen peroxide with a number of other products to make customized cleaners for various areas of your home. In the laundry room, however, a mixture of 1-part blue Dawn dishwashing detergent with 2-parts of hydrogen peroxide is the bomb. Simply soak the stain soundly, rub, rinse and voila! Most organic stains will disappear — even those stubborn grass stains that you’ve been battling since the kids started kindergarten.
4. Salt Doesn’t Sweat It
Salt works great with lemon juice to remove wine stains on white clothing, but it can also work alone to tackle stubborn stains from perspiration. Simply cover the offending item with cold water and toss in a half-cup of salt. Allow your salt-soak to work for about two hours and then wash the item as usual — no sweat.
5. Meat Tenderizer Toughs It Out
If someone in your home is susceptible to nose bleeds, you’re going to love this easy remedy for removing even dried blood stains. Make a simple paste of unseasoned meat tenderizer and water and apply it gently to the fabric. Allow the paste to dry and then scrape away. Since meat tenderizer is specially formulated to break down proteins, that stubborn stain you’ve been staring at for days should be nothing but a bad memory.
6. Corn Starch Soaks Up Grease
Baby powder used to be the go-to choice for removing grease or oil stains from your kitchen aprons or other clothing, but since doctors don’t really recommend using it anymore, many households no longer stock it. Luckily, your penchant for making homemade sauces and gravies will save you. If you keep simple corn starch on-hand, it works just as well. The idea is to coat the oil stain liberally in the corn starch and allow it to soak up the grease. When you brush the starch away, the worst of the residue should be gone, allowing you to launder the item as usual.
7. Distilled White Vinegar Cures Coffee Stains
Floors, countertops, and even mold and mildew are no match for distilled white vinegar. But this little gem is invaluable in the laundry room too. Drenching a stain in straight white vinegar, allowing it to soak in and then rinsing it away before laundering will work to remove stains left by tomatoes, coffee, tea, mustard, and even deodorant.
8. Hairspray Helps the Hopeless
Occasionally, as you go about the processes of everyday life, you may encounter those stains that you thought were harbingers of death for your favorite clothes and linens. Hair dye is one, lipsticks and cosmetics are others. Surprisingly, you can loosen stains like these using a simple blast of hairspray. Make sure to saturate the stain with the spray immediately. Allow it to stand for several minutes, then follow up by using a toothbrush to scrub in your favorite laundry detergent. Rinse well and launder immediately.
9. Cream of Tartar Tackles Yellow Rings
You probably bought that small tin of cream of tartar to make your meringue stand at attention, but did you know it can remove those stubborn yellow rings around your white button-downs too? Simply make a paste of this ingredient and water, and use a toothbrush to rub it into the stain to make shirts look clean again. You can also combine cream of tartar with lemon juice to tackle ink stains or with glycerin to make a one-size-fits-all stain remover for the laundry room.
10. Baking Soda Fits All
But if you’re looking for a good, multi-purpose stain remover for most stains, try grabbing a few extra boxes of simple baking soda the next time you go grocery shopping. This cheap and easy ingredient in cakes and cookies also makes quick work of stains caused by sauces, grease, grass and wine. Mix 6 T of baking soda with 1/3-cup of water and spread the paste evenly on the stain. Rub it in and launder as usual.
There’s really no need to spend hours in the laundry aisle of your local superstore to find the best methods of caring for your family’s favorite rock tees and skinny jeans. All you need are those few basic ingredients already lining your cupboards to keep clothes and kids looking great. Save money and save face by shirking those caustic cleaners and investing in the simplest cures first. Your family, and the environment, will thank you later.