How to Remove Stains Using Common Household Products

You can remove all kinds of stains with the everyday items you probably already have in your cupboard. Linda Cobb, “The Queen of Clean” and author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal, tells you how.

Some of the very best spot and stain removers are things you use every single day! These stain removers work great and they’re right at your fingertips!

Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is great for grass stains and so much more.

Ammonia: The perspiration stain fighter.

Automatic dishwasher detergent: Keep this on hand as a bleach substitute and whitener/ brightener even if you don’t have a dishwasher. Liquid, powder, and tablet form all work well. If you choose the tablet, make sure it has dissolved before you add clothes. Pour directly on stain, or soak.

Baking soda: Removes odors.

Club soda: My favorite Oh my gosh, how did I do that? spotter. Use it on any fabric or surface that can be treated with water. A slight dabbing on dry-clean-only fabrics is also permissible, just be sure to test first! Use club soda on any spill — ask the waiter for some if you’re dining out — dab it on and blot it off. Club soda keeps spills from becoming stains and brings the offending spill to the surface so it can be easily removed. It’s totally safe. I always make sure to have a bottle on hand.

Cream of tartar: I bet you have some of this in the kitchen cupboard, but how often do you use it? Well, here’s your chance. Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice and you have a wonderful bleach for white clothes spotted with food or other stains. It’s even effective on many rust stains.

Denture-cleaning tablets: The cure-all for white table linens with food stains and white cotton with stains. Dissolve one tablet per 1/2 cup water. Pour directly on stain or spot.

Dishwashing liquid: A wonderful spotter, used undiluted on tough stains.

Glycerin: You can remove tar, tree sap (think Christmas tree), juice stains, mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.

GOJO Crème Waterless Hand Cleaner®: Totally awesome for removing grease and oil, including shoe polish.

Hydrogen peroxide: 3 percent hydrogen peroxide is super for removing bloodstains, especially if they are fairly fresh. It also is a wonderful bleaching agent for stubborn stains on white clothes. Combine ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of ammonia for an unbeatable stain removal combination. Make sure to use 3 percent and not the kind you use to bleach your hair!

Lemon juice: This is nature’s bleach and disinfectant. I don’t know where we’d be without it. If you have spots on white clothes, apply some lemon juice and lay them in the sun. Apply a little more lemon juice prior to laundering, or pre-spray and launder as usual. This is really effective on baby formula stains.

Meat tenderizer: A combo of meat tenderizer (unseasoned, please, or you’ll have a whole new stain!) and cold water is just the answer to protein-based stains such as blood, milk, etc.

Salt: Sprinkling salt on spilled red wine will keep the wine from staining until you can launder it. Mixed with lemon juice, salt will remove mildew stains.

Shampoo: Any brand will do. Cheap is fine. I save the small bottles from hotel/motel stays and keep them in the laundry room. Great for treating ring-around-the-collar, mud and cosmetic stains.

Shave cream: That innocent-looking can of shave cream in your bathroom is one of the best spot and stain removers available. That’s because it’s really whipped soap! If you have a spill on your clothes (or even your carpet), moisten the spot, work in some shave cream, and then flush it with cool water. If the offending spot is on something you’re wearing, work the shave cream in and then use a clean cloth (a washcloth works fine) to blot the shave cream and the spot away. A quick touch of the blow-dryer to prevent a ring and you’re on your way. The best thing about shave cream is that even if it doesn’t work it won’t set the stain, so the spot can still be removed later. Keep a small sample can in your suitcase when you travel. It’s saved me more than once!

WD-40 Lubricant®: Check out your garage or the “fix-it” cupboard. If you don’t have any, pick up a can the next time you’re at the hardware store or home center. Why? Because we’ve all had those nasty grease stains and oil stains on clothes: Salad dressing misses the salad and gets the blouse, or grease splatters when you are cooking — or crayon/lipstick/Chap Stick® gets on your clothes! WD-40 is your answer. Spray some on, wait 10 minutes, and then work in undiluted liquid dishwashing soap and launder as usual. Works well on everything except silk!

White vinegar: A great spotter for suede — used undiluted. It’s also a wonderful fabric softener. Just put 14 cup white vinegar in the final rinse. (And no, you won’t smell like a salad!) It’s worthwhile to keep these things on hand. As you can see, most are inexpensive and have other uses. They’ll make you the laundry Queen — or King! — in your home.

Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal (Copyright © 2001 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.



29 thoughts on “How to Remove Stains Using Common Household Products

  1. Hi Linda
    I don’t know if you remember me or not, Question,I have a plastic bath tub and the bottom of it is very dirty, how do I clean this to make it look like new.
    Thank You

  2. My discover came over the summer when a friend was over and saw midnight blue painted blotched on my cream carpet in my beautifully finished upstairs. The house is a Cape Cod and I was painting the ceiling. Not being the most careful painter, I managed to get some splotches here and there. I had tried cleaning them with everything you can think of. For over 6 months I scrubbed and cleaned. Nothing took the stains out. Some products frayed the carpet a bit, some dilluted the paint and made it spread even more. I gave up. My friend saw these marks and gave me a product she swears by called Genesis 950. Doubtfully I tried it. I had all but given up. So I followed the directions, mixed it with water and let it soak. Then to my suprise when I wiped it up, it ALL came out. Not a spot left. I was astonished to say the least.

    Since then, I too now swear by this cleaner. I have used it to completely restore a microfiber couch that my pets had their way with. I have used it to clean up a wine stain, which is astonishingly took up with no effort. I have used it to remove dried blood from clothes, spilled food on my rug, and when the dog comes in all muddy with who knows what on his paws, the Genesis 950 cleans the carpets right up.

    I have read so many issues on here involving stains and want to reply to each and every one of them. This is what you guys need. So for all you out there with stains. I STRONGLY recommend the Genesis 950.

  3. Great tips! My friend and I have a laundry service from our homes. We use white vinegar in every load as a natural fabric softner. It’s also a great stain remover. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water to remove moderately saturated stains or apply a paste of baking soda and white vinegar to muscle out stubborn stains. The mildness of the vinegar means there’s no risk of destroying the fabric or dye unlike other stain treatment products.
    ClevelandLaundry Care

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  5. I tried peroxide on some infant onsies and while it worked on the colored ones it turned the white ones MORE yellow soooo im in the process of trying to get rid of THOSE yellow stains! grrrr off to the next home remedy to attempt to save onsies (and money)!!

  6. Thanks for these fantastic home stain removal tips. I’ve used a few of them before but WD40! I would never have thought.

  7. I have to say I’m very big on using green products. Thanks for the tips. Have you ever used LOC (Legacy of Clean)products.

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