Stains are a real nuisance when you wash clothes. Sometimes they are still there when you take clothes out of the washing machine. But a lot of them can be removed by using a simple method. It’s also easy to save half the detergent you normally use.

The appearance of the washing machine was a major change in the history of mankind, or perhaps we should say womankind. But it has certain shortcomings. For example, there are stains that washing machines cannot remove.

To remove stains the best thing to do is to deal with them as soon as possible and apply a stain remover. There are a number on the market, but most of them contain solvents and other toxic substances.

The homemade stain remover we describe below removes stains caused by many substances, including coffee, grass, fruit juice perfume, sweat, jam, suntan lotion, rust, tea, urine, wine, beer and ketchup. Note: It should NOT be used for blood stains!

Remember that the stains made by many chemical products are practically impossible to remove by any method—a good argument for not using them. And don’t forget that the best stain is the one you don’t make. Use aprons, overalls and old clothes to avoid stains on clothes.

Other hints

  • Never use detergent on grass stains; it only sets them permanently. The best method is to use water with vinegar as soon as possible. If the stain is still there after you wash and dry the garment, soak it again, always using cold water.
  • Never put clothes with stains in the washing machine. They will be set more permanently.
  • Avoid using hot water, especially with sugar stains.

Homemade stain remover

Making a homemade stain remover is as easy as mixing equal proportions of cold water and vinegar, adding a few drops of essential herb oils (lavender, rosemary, etc.) to give it a pleasant smell. Put the mixture in a spray container, apply it to the stain and leave the garment to soak in cold water. Rub the stain only if it is difficult or not recent.

Blood stains

The basic recipe is similar but instead of vinegar we use sodium carbonate (available from good hardware stores). Bicarbonate can also be used but it is less effective. This recipe also works with tea and fruit stains.

To use half as much detergent

If you normally use one cup of detergent, you can replace this as follows:

  • ½ cup of detergent.
  • ¼ cup of sodium carbonate for a full load or less for smaller loads. Avoid using too much, as it will leave a white residue. Bicarbonate can also be used, especially if the clothes are not very dirty. Bicarbonate leaves clothes softer than carbonate.
  • If clothes are very dirty, you can add borax (available from hardware stores). It is especially useful in hard-water areas, as it improves the performance of detergent. It also eliminates unpleasant smells and polishes surfaces.
  • You can always add essential oil of lavender or any other herb you like.