Before we had children, Hubby & I had two beautiful Great Danes, and also volunteered with a great organization called Great Dane Rescue, Inc. We would evaluate incoming Danes, coordinate adoptions, etc. The foster Danes rarely came into Rescue clean, or fully potty trained. I did a lot of laundry in my GD Rescue days.
Once we began to be blessed with children, we shifted our focus from Danes to kids. With four active sons, it should come as no surprise that I still do a lot of laundry. I do more laundry in a week for my family of six than I did in a month when it was just Hubby and me. I view laundry as either a fact of daily life, or the bane of my existence–depending on the day.
Between the Danes and the kids, I’ve become very adept at cleaning and removing a myriad stains from just about everything. Including melted crayon in the dryer. I’ve purchased every stain remover on the market and tried every natural remedy know to man, and you know what I discovered? I can get most anything clean with simple things that I always have on hand.
Here are a few of my favorite laundry helpers that help make my life a little easier. All of them are readily available at the supermarket, which is a necessity when shopping with four laundry-generating boys in tow.
Feel free to shout out your favorite natural solutions in the comments section!
Hydrogen Peroxide: Probably my most favorite cleaning agent. Best known for its antibacterial properties, hydrogen peroxide binds to bodily fluids to lift them out of clothing. It also acts as mild bleach for other stains. My favorite uses—
- Removing blood from clothing. Just pour the peroxide directly on the blood stain and wash in cold water. My mother used to work in an inner-city hospital emergency room. Blood stains were a normal part of the job. They used peroxide to clean their scrubs. Skinned knees and other body parts are normal parts of my job, so I use peroxide to clean those clothes.
- Cleaning the white grout between tiles. Especially in a house full of little boys in which (apparently) none of them has the aim to get all of their business in the toilet. Pour directly on the grout, and let sit for an hour or so. Lightly scrub and wipe clean.
- As a counter sanitizer–mix peroxide 50/50 with water. Put it in a spray bottle, and use to sanitize countertops.
- As a laundry stain pre-treat—mix ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish detergent with 16 oz. of peroxide. Put it in a spray bottle, and spray on stains before laundering. Peroxide mixtures should be kept in a dark bottle, and/or in a dark place, as peroxide breaks down with light. I find that a standard spray bottle nozzle usually fits onto the brown bottle that the peroxide comes in.
Baking Soda: A gentle abrasive that neutralizes acidic stains, and also acts as mild bleach. Baking soda should be tested on fabrics, etc. for colorfastness. Baking soda also deodorizes, and has great absorption capabilities. My favorite uses—
- Sprinkled on carpet to absorb urine. Hey, it can happen–by both potty training pets and children.
- Mix with water to form a paste, then rub on “ring-around-the-collar” stains. The baking soda breaks down the stain. Allow to sit for an hour or more before washing.
Club soda: works well if poured onto very fresh stains that are then laundered immediately. My favorite use:
- The dreaded red wine spill!
Salt: breaks down sweat stains, and kills sweat bacteria. Also has mild bleaching properties. My favorite uses:
- Make a paste of table salt and water, and apply to sweat stains. Allow to sit until paste dries before washing in warm water.
- Add a cup of salt to a 5 gallon bucket of water. Soak white clothing in the salt water solution to brighten the whites. Whites can also be brightened by sitting out in sunlight for several hours.
- Mixing equal parts shampoo and salt can be used to scrub out “ring-around-the-collar” stains.
White Vinegar: My second favorite cleaning agent. Vinegar deodorizes and neutralizes acids. My favorite uses:
- Adding 1 cup of vinegar to a load of wash to neutralize urine Ph and odor.
- Adding ¼ cup added to a load of wash brightens colors and acts as a mild fabric softener.
- Can be used as a stain pre-treat by pouring directly on the stain before washing. Works well for highly acidic stains such as fruit, and sweat.
- Mold and mildew can be removed from fabric by soaking in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
- Can be mixed with equal parts water in a spray bottle and used as a counter cleaner. (I’ve tried this, and my house smelled like a salad when I was done, so I stick with the peroxide/water combo.)
- And y’all probably already know that you can mix vinegar can break down calcium deposits in the coffee maker—just mix 1 cup of vinegar with a full pot of water and run it through a brew cycle. Then “brew” a few pots of hot water to rinse out the lines.
Vegetable oil can be used to remove glue and tape residues left behind on solid surfaces after taking off stickers. Just pour a little vegetable oil on a rag, and rub on the sticky residue.
To remove candle wax: Freeze the fabric, then scrape frozen wax off fabric with a sharp knife. (Freezing also works for chewing gum.) The remaining wax can be removed by covering it with a clean linen cloth, and ironing it over low heat. The wax will melt and bind to the clean cloth. Move the clean cloth often so that you are continually ironing wax onto a clean part of the cloth.
Ball-point ink stains can sometimes be removed with hairspray. Spray the ink, then vigorously tap the stain with a clean toothbrush. Repeat until the stain has dissipated, then wash in hot water.
And since the Hydrogen Peroxide trick is by far my favorite, and because I had to opportunity to use it twice this weekend– here it is in action:
And just in case you want to see it in action–here is a few spots of blood that mysteriously appeared on my new shower curtain.
Pour the peroxide directly on the blood stain.
The peroxide will foam up (oxygenate) and bind with the blood, then lift it out of the fabric. (Since this particular stain was on white fabric, I darked the exposure so that the oxygenation could be better seen.) Wash the fabric in cold water, and the stain should come out. The peroxide works best on a fresh stain, but I have had success with stains that I found much later.
Pour hydrogen peroxide directly on dingy white grout, and let is sit for 30-60 minutes.
Give the grout a light scrub with a brush, and wipe clean. (This should only be done on white, not tinted grout.)