18 Cheap Stain Removers You Can Make at Home

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You don't have to buy an expensive bottle of stain remover at the store: The ingredients you need to eliminate all kinds of stains are already in your cupboards.

Who hasn’t been there? You’re hosting a party and a careless guest sloshes some red wine on your light-colored carpet.

You’re ready for this little emergency, and quickly empty a carton of salt on the spill. But when you pick up the clumps of salt, the stain is still there.

What’s next? Many would head to the store for a better and more expensive remedy. But the items you need to properly remove that stain are already right there, in your home.

For example, several online sources rave about this method: Mix ammonia with water — the recipes vary, including 2 tablespoons of ammonia to 1 cup of water, or equal parts of each — and apply it to the stain. You can do this with a spray bottle, or wet a white towel with the mixture.

Next, lay the towel over the stain and iron it with a hot iron. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Many homemade stain removal methods are even simpler. Click the links below for more details.

Stains on clothes

  • A mix of equal parts of ammonia, liquid dish detergent and water in a spray bottle is touted as an effective stain remover for clothes. Spray it on and wash later, after it dries.
  • The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends lightly scrubbing a stain or stubborn dirt with dish detergent, then soaking the clothes overnight in a bucket of water and 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) is the star of this recipe that removes stains from clothing and other fabrics. Mix together one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts Dawn dish detergent. A spray bottle is the preferred method of application.
  • Robin Shreeves used a combination of lemon juice and salt to treat a stain that had set on a favorite white blouse, then reapplied lemon juice and hung it in the sun.
  • This recipe at eHow describes a lemon juice application that will work on a rainy day.
  • This How Stuff Works article about the power of lemon as a stain remover says a mixture of lemon juice and water will also remove those dreaded armpit stains. Just be sure you wash the clothes quickly after applying.
  • Two crushed aspirin tablets dissolved in a cup of hot water is also good for perspiration stains, Mrs. Clean says.
  • WD-40 lubricant can remove grease, oil, crayon and lipstick from clothes. Who knew? In fact, there are scores of ways in which WD-40 can be a life-saver.
  • Reader’s Digest says a 30-minute soak in milk will remove ink.
  • Unflavored meat tenderizer is a good stain remover for protein-based stains like blood. Make a paste with a little water.

Other stains

  • I keep a spray bottle of half white vinegar and half water for many cleaning tasks, including removing hard water stains.
  • IDiva says body lotion can remove crayon and other tough marks from walls.
  • Another iDiva tip: A common eraser can remove pen marks from a leather purse.
  • Half a lemon dipped in salt will eliminate stains from the copper bottoms of pots and pans. Rub lightly. That combination of lemon juice and salt is also said to remove rust stains from a variety of surfaces.
  • Paul Michael of Wise Bread vouches for this method of removing a water ring from the dining room table: Mix mayonnaise with some cigarette ash and leave it on the stain overnight.
  • Baking soda — rubbed dry into stains or mixed with water to make a paste — works on many types of stains.
  • What if it’s a mystery stain? Reader’s Digest says, “Mix a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste.”

Some important advice

Mrs. Clean offers some essential advice whenever you’re trying out a new stain removal recipe on a surface you haven’t used it on before.

For starters, test it in a hidden spot. In fact, according to a very informative article by ABC 7 News in Chicago: “Many types of fabrics are not suited for home stain removal techniques, including rayon, silk, satin or velvet.”

Act as soon as you can to remove a stain before it sets. Quickly blot the stain with an absorbent material. Do not rub.

Have you tried any of these substitutes, or have ideas of your own? Share the wealth on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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