Harsh chemicals found in laundry detergents can be just as harmful to us as to the environment. But what happens when you need to get rid of stains?
While mild and plant-based detergents do their best, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Luckily there are many eco-friendly stain removers we can use.
The most well-known and versatile way to get stains out of clothes is baking soda, all while staying completely eco-friendly. Other eco-friendly stain removers include lemon and lime juice, white vinegar, cornstarch, and table salt.
Eco-friendly ways of cleaning stained clothes
Doing your laundry is one of the easiest ways to introduce chemicals and microplastics into aquatic environments, and sadly these environments are the most sensitive to them. Even if you’ve made the swap to plant-based detergents it’s worth knowing how to use natural stain removers.
Many natural stain removal techniques can be done with what you already have in your cupboards – especially if you commonly use them for general cleaning.
A small collection of the following natural cleaning agents will help you tackle all kinds of stains and build-ups of dirt:
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- Lemon juice (or squeeze your own)
- White vinegar
Mild dish soaps and plant-based laundry detergents are also a must-have for making your home more eco-friendly.
For cleaning, you’ll also need:
- Either an old toothbrush or a bamboo toothbrush
- Spray bottles
- An old mug or cup
- An old rag – especially from old worn clothes
Many people also advise the use of hydrogen peroxide. However, because hydrogen peroxide can be harmful to the environment in high doses we’re going to tackle most clothes stains without it.
For the most stubborn stains, you may want to try methods using hydrogen peroxide. Never use hydrogen peroxide with white vinegar, as the two can create peracetic acid, which is dangerous to breathe in.
Hydrogen peroxide is also beneficial for clothes with mold stains, which are hard to get out entirely with other natural methods.
The sooner you treat a stain, the better, whether caused by mold, oil, mud, or even blood.
With most stains, you’ll want to be ready to wash the stained clothes as soon as you’ve used one of these eco-friendly cleaning methods. It’s usually best to do a full load of washing, so when waiting for solutions to sit or the stain to dry, make sure to go collect anything that needs to be washed to fill up your washing machine, sink, or bathtub.
How to remove sweat stains with white vinegar
You can remove sweat stains with white vinegar by adding two tablespoons to a cup of water. Pour the solution onto the stains and let it sit for between 30-60 minutes. Washing the clothes in cold water should get rid of most sweat stains. If the stain persists, don’t let it dry in and try again.
For white clothes, you can squeeze the lemon juice into a cup and add an equal amount of water to it. By scrubbing the mixture into the stains and allowing it to dry in direct sunlight, the lemon juice will fade the stain. Giving it a wash after is best.
How to remove blood stains with salt
A question most crime writers will have typed into Google is the all-important: how to remove blood stains from clothes.
Most blood stains can be removed just using ordinary table salt. Before rushing to wash it in the laundry, rinse the blood-stained clothes with cold water only. Then mix a paste of salt and cold water and apply it to the stains, letting it sit for 10-20 minutes.
After rinsing the stain with more cold water, wash the clothes as normal as soon as possible to ensure the fabric remains stain-free.
How do you remove mud stains from clothes?
Unlike most stains, mud is easiest to remove after the mud has dried.
Once the mud has set, mix water with either dish soap, vinegar, or lemon juice and use a sponge to apply it to the mud. Rub the clothes gently to remove the mud stain before rinsing with cold water.
You can also use an old rag to rub vinegar into the mud stain until the bulk of it has been removed. By adding extra vinegar to your washing machine, you can help remove it even more – especially if you have other clothes with only a little splash of mud.
How to get grass stains off clothes with vinegar
Getting grass stains off your clothes isn’t much different from removing mud stains, but sometimes you might only have green streaks without much of the mud.
An equal mixture of white vinegar and cold water can be applied to any grass stains. After letting it sit for 30 minutes, scrub with a clean rag and then rinse in cool water.
For persistent or large stains, soak the stained garments in a bowl or your bathtub with two parts cold water to one part white vinegar until thoroughly saturated.
Using a clean old rag, rub at the stain with a little more white vinegar for a few minutes.
If the stain is really set in, add some toothpaste to the stain and gently rub away. You may need to try this a few times.
Once the stain has gone, rinse the fabric in cold water before adding it to your next laundry load.
For really stubborn grass stains that have been left for a while or are caked into the synthetic fabric:
- make a paste from three tablespoons of baking soda and two tablespoons of water
- apply the paste to the stains and let it dry
- combine a half cup of white vinegar, one cup of water, and one tablespoon of dish soap in a bowl and apply it to the dried mixture with a toothbrush
- scrub the area until it removes the grass stain
- rinse the clothes with warm water and let them air dry
How to get chewing gum off clothes
The easiest way to get chewing gum off clothes is to stick your gummed-up clothes in your freezer or put ice cubes on top of the gum. After 20 or so minutes, the gum will have hardened up enough to scrape it off with a dull knife or even a credit card.
When putting your clothes in the freezer, fold the fabric so that the gum is exposed at the top, then put it in a freezer bag.
If a freezer won’t do, get some ice cubes or use a freezer pack. You’ll want to put the ice on both sides of the fabric, so pop the cubes in two reusable bags and sandwich the fabric between two sources of ice.
For any remaining stain, put a dot of toothpaste on the stain and rub it with a rag until any remaining gum is broken up. Then scrub it with a toothbrush and rinse it under cold water.
Can you get crayon stains out of clothes with baking soda?
For crayon stains, baking soda can be used in a regular wash or on its own.
When tackling spots or areas of crayon wax, create a paste from baking soda with three tablespoons of baking soda with a teaspoon of water. Apply the paste with a toothbrush or rag onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then scrub it with the toothbrush and repeat until the stain has been removed.
Dry crayon stains can also be frozen in a similar way to getting chewing gum out of clothes. After being frozen for an hour, scrape off the crayon carefully and fetch some paper towel and an iron. Heat the iron enough to be hot but not enough for steam, then gently press the iron over the paper towel on top of the crayon stain. This should lift the crayon wax into the paper towel.
Dish soap and a toothbrush can also get rid of crayon marks. Simply rub some dish soap into the stain and brush with a toothbrush to dislodge it. Blot with a rag or paper towel to absorb the dish soap and rinse under cold water.
How to remove ink stains on clothes at home
It’s a common experience to notice that, at some point, you accidentally got a pen on your shirt sleeve. Or maybe your pen exploded and dripped into your pocket.
Ink stains often come out in the wash, but if you have a particularly stubborn ink stain you can use a surprising cleaning agent: milk.
Putting your ink-stained clothes in some milk to soak overnight can lift ink stains. On the next wash, you should find that your clothing is stain-free!
Be careful not to end up with a milk stain, though – wash the next day to ensure you don’t end up with dried milk stains.
Alternatively, you can use white vinegar and cornstarch to remove ink stains. Dampen the stain with a little white vinegar, mix two parts white vinegar to three parts cornstarch into a paste and then rub the paste onto the stain. Once the paste has dried, add the garment to your usual wash cycle!
Can you remove coffee stains from clothes with white vinegar?
There’s nothing worse than a coffee stain, but most of us are used to scrubbing them off of tables and coasters. But coffee stains on clothes don’t have to be difficult to remove either.
For fresh coffee stains, run the stain under cold water but don’t rub it. It will take a minute or so but the coffee should wash out.
If it doesn’t, or you’re dealing with a dried coffee stain, wet the stain with cold water and add some white vinegar. Gently rub it with your fingers before letting it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse under cold water.
For stubborn dried stains, use a toothbrush to gently rub the white vinegar into the stain and repeat until clean. Or try soaking the clothes in lukewarm water with two tablespoons of white vinegar – after 15 minutes, rinse and check the stain.
A tablespoon of baking soda can be rubbed over stubborn stains, especially on jeans, as well.
Can you get tea stains out of clothes with warm water?
Like coffee, fresh tea stains can be tackled just with running water. Hold the stained fabric under a tap and run warm water over it for 2 minutes to remove most of the tea.
If there’s still a stain, use baking soda while the clothes are still wet. Apply a layer of baking soda over the stain and leave it overnight before scraping it off in the morning. After a wash, the stain should be completely gone!
What takes out red wine stains from clothes?
To get red wine stains out of your clothes, you just need to combine baking soda with equal parts of water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and leave it for a few hours or overnight. Then just rinse under a tap and wash as usual.
White vinegar can also be used to remove red wine stains. Pour some vinegar onto the stain until it’s soaked and add some laundry detergent or dish soap to the stain. Rub the fabric together before leaving it to soak for 30 minutes and rinse with cold water afterward.