One of our frequently asked questions is how to remove stains naturally from clothes! Now stains are nearly an everyday occurrence, especially if you have kids (like me!) or you are a messy eater (also like me!)!
The fabric in clothes is made up of millions of fibres which creates the perfect space for stains to hide. Once lodged, they can become impossible to shift!
Leave it too long and stains will become chemically bonded to the fibres. This can happen if heat is applied (sunlight, iron, tumble dryer etc) you basically have two options:
Dissolve the stain – Using some sort of solvent (listed below) and flush the stain out. Depending on the materials the solvent may end up damaging the fabric as well, or naturally bleach the stain – Bleaching is the act of breaking down the chemical bonds of the stains chromophore, the molecules responsible for its colour. Again, this might also damage the fabric by destroying the colour as well as the stain. Be careful, you have been warned! Always read the label.
Stain removal basics
No matter what type of stain you are trying to remove there are some basics you should always adhere to:
Be Quick – Act first and the stain won’t set in! Water and detergent is best. Once the stain has been absorbed or dried, even the best stain removers will have a hard time.
Heat can cause the stain to chemically bond to fibres and then it pretty much game over. Especially true of milk, eggs and blood. So when you are on your period – act fast! and wash cold to start with!
Don’t rub this will only spread the stain further! Start with a dab or blot – water and kitchen roll keeping the stain contained to one area.
Always read the garment label !
Natural stain removal
Water is your friend! It’s a basic solvent so use it as quickly as possible. Cold water is always best, as heat sets stains. You may need to submerge the garment in water to completely flush out the stain from the fibres. Remember not to rub though! Otherwise you might massage the stain further.
The next step up is Vinegar, a mild solvent. Vinegar is a mix of water and acetic acid (only mild though so don’t worry too much). Use it sparingly and blot the stain rather than submerge it and definitely don’t rub. Wash as soon as possible.
This one you’ll need to buy and locate in the supermarket – Rubbing Alcohol is an excellent stain remover. Great at penetrating deep into fibres and removing staining molecules. Rubbing alcohol is also great at cleaning kitchen surfaces, worktops and glass! If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, try using Vodka instead! While rubbing alcohol is safe on most fabrics, it should never be used on silk, wool, or any garment that has leather trim or wooden buttons. Be careful. Don’t always rub, blot! Maybe wear Gloves?!
Failing that, Sunlight is a great natural stain remover. Best of all, this one is free! Sunlight acts as a light bleaching agent – we call this the fade. Just like leaving something out in the sun for too long, you end up bleaching it! It’s this but on a much gentler scale. The UV rays from sunlight break down the chemical bonds responsible for colour (similar to bleach). My mum taught me this one when tackling poo-narmi’s!
Another great natural bleaching effect is Lemon Juice (a mild bleach) as it is Citric acid so be careful how you use it! I remember using it to dye my hair blonde when I was 16! As a bleach, it’s best used on whites. Apply to the stain, leave for approx. 30 min and wash as normal.
So there you have it, a quick and eco-friendly guide about how to remove stains naturally.