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The superhero stain fighters you already have at home

stain remover being sprinkled on large stain
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Did you forget to buy stain remover again, and now it’s time to do laundry? Don’t fret! There is a wealth of useful stuff in your kitchen that probably works just as well, if not better. Did you know that some household items work as effective laundry stain removers? Let’s take a look at some of the items in your cupboard or fridge to see how many superhero stain fighters you’ve got hiding in there!


Yep, good ol’ milk from a cow can be used to fight stains. Other types of milk might also work, but we’ve only ever tried regular cow’s milk for this purpose, so we’ll stick with the tried-and-true method for now. You can use milk as a stain remover for the following:

  • Ink, permanent marker, or chocolate stains: Soak the garment in a milk bath, ensuring the stain is thoroughly covered in milk overnight, then wash as usual in the morning. The stains should be gone when you remove it from the wash.
  • Lipstick or strawberry stains on white cotton (and only white cotton): Mix 1 part milk with equal parts bleach and water, and spray the mixture onto stains, scrubbing it in with an old toothbrush. Stains will disappear instantly.
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Baking soda and water

  • Baking soda is great when made into a paste with a dash of water and scrubbed into carpet stains.  Let sit until dry, then vacuum up the baking soda. This works with other types of stains, too, if you rinse with seltzer water after letting it sit for 10 minutes on the stain.

White vinegar

White vinegar, is there anything you can’t do? You can use it as a fabric softener by adding 1/4 cup to the rinse cycle, preferably on cold. And, no, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar! You can use white vinegar as a stain remover, too:

  • Just mix 1/4 cup of it with cold water and soak the stained item for half an hour. Then, scrub the stained area firmly and rinse it.
  • For perspiration stains in clothing, do the same as above. Then, wash as usual in your regular washing machine, preferably in cold water.
  • For stained carpeting, pour the white vinegar on and then pour baking soda on top of it. Let it bubble up and then let it dry. Scrub and then vacuum up the dry baking soda.


  • Having trouble getting bloodstains out of clothing? We usually just use a little cold water, but if that fails, try this method! Soak the garment in a basin full of cola overnight. Then, wash as usual in your washing machine, and — voila! — the stain should disappear.


  • For stains like perspiration, make a saltwater soak in your washing machine by adding 1/2 cup salt and enough cold water to cover the clothes completely. Allow the clothes to soak for up to two hours. If you don’t have a washing machine, make a paste of salt and water and rub it into stains (both inside and out), then allow it to sit for two hours before hand-washing.
  • For bloodstains, create the same type of soak, but just use 1 quart of cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt in a container outside the washing machine, then let sit for about two hours and follow with a gentle wash on cold.
  • Pour a decent layer of salt on a red wine stain as soon as you possibly can. Allow it to sit for several hours, then wash in cold water in your washing machine.

White wine

  • Did someone spill red wine on their dress at a party? No worries! Just apply equal amounts of white wine over the stain, then dab off the excess and wash in the washing machine. The garment should come out good as new.

Coconut oil

  • Loosen tough stains on carpeting or furniture upholstery by rubbing a little coconut oil into it. Mix with baking soda to draw it out a little more efficiently.
  • Brighten stained teeth with a coconut oil and baking soda scrub. Use it in place of your whitening toothpaste twice a day.
  • Clean leather or crayon from your walls with a coconut oil and baking soda blend (half of each in equal parts). Scrub it in, let it sit, then wipe it away.

Lemon juice

  • Lemons are a treasure trove when it comes to DIY cleaning products! Use a freshly squeezed lemon on perspiration, ink, or dark berry juice stains. Add an equal amount of cold water if need be, or make a paste of lemon juice mixed with cream of tartar.
  • Mix lemon juice and salt to remove mildew and rust stains. Apply to your cutting board to remove stains. Allow it to dry in direct sunlight.
  • Pour a little fresh lemon juice into your load of whites to remove light stains in every wash.


  • Rub a little toothpaste into tea and coffee cups and allow it to sit before washing to help remove staining. You can also rub it into stained carpeting or clothing, then wash as usual in your washing machine. (Use Tom’s of Maine or Dr. Bronner’s brands, if possible, and not a whitening toothpaste.)

Club soda or seltzer

  • Apply to stains that just happened, like if you spill coffee or wine. The bubbles in the soda should lift out the stain before it sets.

White chalk

  • Rub a little white chalk into an oily stain on nearly any fabric, then wash it in cold water. Do not dry in the dryer until you make sure the stain is completely removed.

Artificial sweetener

  • If you have a grease stain on a garment, apply the contents of a packet of artificial sweetener. Rub it in a little and let it draw out the grease. Then, wash your garment, and it should look as good as new.

Corn starch

  • If food grease lands on your expensive fabric, blot it up with corn starch and leave until 20 minutes has passed. It should absorb the grease. Then, brush the powder off with a dry toothbrush.

Now that you know about these superhero stain fighters, you won’t need to worry about buying store-bought stain removers unless you really prefer them. These work better, after all, and for a fraction of the cost. Be sure to come back whenever you need guidance on housekeeping matters. Happy stain removing!

woman hanging white clothing to dry
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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