We’ve all got stains. Food on pants, sauces on shirts, and drinks on household rugs. If the stain isn’t bad enough, what’s even worse is that you often have to properly wash the article of clothing to ensure the stain is removed and you can wear it again. The average American household consumes more than 13,000 gallons of water a year washing clothes alone. Imagine how that affects utility bills and the environment.
Fortunately, simple, greener alternatives make it cost-effective and quick to wash your stained garments. Wine stain on your favorite button up? No worries. You can apply white vinegar and let it sit for ten minutes. Once it’s soaked up the alcohol, you can wash it out with water to eliminate the acrid smell! Did your child get a stain on their new shirt? If you have bread around the house, you can use it to absorb the filth from the material. Believe it or not, the gluten in the bread will extract the dirt! These are just a few of the hacks you can take advantage of. Look around your house, and you’ve got what you need to remove several tough stains quickly.
Many of us are becoming more aware of our buying habits' impact on the planet. A recent survey of Good Housekeeping readers showed that almost sixty percent say climate change, plastic pollution, and rainforest destruction are some of the environmental issues which worry them. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between cleaning your clothes and protecting the environment. Many of us have an overwhelming amount of cleaning chemicals under the sink, but four key ingredients you probably have around the house make for wonderful, eco-friendly cleaners.
Bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda is the queen of the cleaning world: it’s cheap, green, and has a myriad of uses around the home. Bicarb is a powerful natural deodorizer — put a little glass of bicarb in the fridge to absorb food smells, or sprinkle it on mattresses, carpets, and other soft furnishings to remove foul odors such as those left by vomit or sour milk.
It also boosts the performance of regular household bleach. As you probably know, bleach can cause health issues for humans, animals, and aquatic life, but by adding half a cup of bicarb to half a cup of bleach, you can reduce the amount you use with similar results.
When it comes to stain removal, it’s a must-have. Use a scouring paste that is one-half bicarbonate of soda and one-half water. It’s excellent for removing stubborn stains from kitchen worktops, ovens, sinks, cookers, and saucepans. A paste made from two parts bicarb to one part cream of tartar will help to remove marks when rubbed into greasy stains on clothing before laundering.
Distilled white vinegar
Vinegar is a wonderful traditional cleaning product, excellent for removing limescale from a variety of surfaces and for buffing windows to a streak-free shine. Make up a spray bottle of half vinegar and half water, and use it regularly on tiles, basins, baths, and taps to keep limescale at bay. Always rinse thoroughly with plain water afterward.
You can even use it to remove a limescale build-up in your washing machine/dishwasher pipes to help it run as efficiently as possible. Pour half a cup of vinegar, in place of your usual detergent, into the detergent drawer and run the machine empty on a normal wash cycle. For a dishwasher, pour the same amount of vinegar into the base of the machine. As well as removing the limescale, it’ll help freshen up your appliance! It’s also a good odor absorber, and a few drops applied to clothing faded by perspiration will sometimes restore the color.
Lemon juice works brilliantly as a natural bleaching agent. You can use freshly squeezed juice, but the bottled stuff works just as well. Try removing food stains from chopping boards by rubbing them with half a lemon or a white cloth dipped in lemon juice and leaving them overnight. You’ll find it removes onion or fish odors lingering on a chopping board and replaces it with a fresh, citrus smell. Lemon juice is also very effective on rust stains; half a cupful added to a wash load will help brighten whites.
Washing soda crystals
Washing soda has been used in the home for more than a century.
Soda crystals are biodegradable, contain no enzymes, phosphates, or bleach, and can be used on all fabric types. If you don’t want to use strong solvents, enzymes, or other stain-removing products, washing soda is a good alternative. It removes grease, blood, ink, grass, red wine, tea, and coffee. Soak the affected garment overnight in a strong solution (follow the directions given by the manufacturer) before washing as usual.
You can use washing soda crystals on many non-fabric stains, too, such as burned pans, discolored chopping boards, and tea-stained cups, and also for an enormous variety of other household cleaning tasks, such as clearing blocked drains or removing mildew from shower curtains by soaking them in your bathtub/plastic container.
So the next time you’re out and have an embarrassing spill, no worries. Just head to the nearest service member and request one of these common kitchen and cleaning ingredients to put that stain back and resume the festivities. As always, happy eco-friendly-ing. Stay stain free.