Laundry Stains

Instead of the dangerous chemical cleaner, try one of these green laundry stain removal tips. Fight stains with non-toxic green power!

Laundry Stain and Spot Removal – The Green Way

It is no fun having clothing ruined by a stain. It always seems to happen in the most obvious place on the garment. Many people turn to a toxic commercial spot remover to fight stains, but that is not the best idea. Our world today demands environmentally safe products. So instead of the dangerous chemical cleaner, try one of these green laundry stain removal tips. Fight laundry stains with non-toxic green power.

Chemical spot and stain removing product ads try to convince us that only their dangerous, toxic chemicals are capable of removing laundry stains, but this is just not true! The natural, non-toxic solutions talked about here are very powerful and effective, and also safe for you and your family. Great green brand name products include Biokleen, Caldrea, Citra-solv, Earth Friendly Products, Ecover, Seventh Generation, Bio-pac, Church and Dwight, Clean Environment Company, Clorox (!), Country Save, and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. Just to get you started!

Non-Toxic Spot Removal Basic Product List to keep in your laundry kit.

  • Cream of Tartar
  • Club Soda (for stains that have not set and dried)
  • Natural Enzyme Prewash (Biokleen, Citra-Solv, Earth Friendly Products make natural enzyme spot cleaners)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 6% (a form of oxygen bleach)
  • Oxygen Bleach (releases oxygen to clean. It gets between the stain and the fiber. It is safe on colored fabrics, and it naturally softens your water due to its high pH. Soft water cleans better than hard water. Oxygen bleach is biodegradable, something chlorine bleach is not.)
  • Salt
  • Non-gel toothpaste
  • Vegetable glycerin

Homemade All Purpose Spot Remover Recipe

3-4 tablespoons of powdered oxygen bleach

2 cups room-temperature water

Combine the oxygen bleach and water in a spray bottle. Leaving the top off the bottle gently swish the solution around until the oxygen bleach dissolves. Label the bottle. Pretreat stains and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then launder. (Thanks to Renee Loux for this recipe from her fantastic book Easy Green Living)

Laundry Stain Removing Dos and Don’ts – please read!!

  1. “Act quickly to remove stains.
  2. Remove as much stain as possible by brushing or scraping. Do not rub.
  3. Pretest fabrics before using any stain remover, especially colored fabrics.
  4. Never use hot water on stains; it will set them.
  5. Work on glass or a surface that will not be damaged by cleaning agents.
  6. Do not use vodka on acrylic, acetate or triacetate fabrics.
  7. Do not use vinegar on cotton/linen.
  8. Do not use ammonia or enzyme products on wool/silk.
  9. Do not use soak products on wool/silk.
  10. For best results, place stained areas face down on paper towels – preferably white – and apply stain remover to the underside of the stain.
  11. Soaking may help loosen old stains”.

(This list thanks to


Baby Formula

You can remove these stains by soaking the clothing in an enzyme presoak before laundering. Natural enzyme products contain enzymes obtained from plants. Alternatively, you can presoak it in a gallon of warm water mixed with 3 ounces of oxygen bleach, or spray with your all purpose stain remover spray.


Quickly soak blood on clothing in cold water. It should come right out. If it has dried, soak it in an enzyme presoak. If the stain lingers, launder it with oxygen bleach.

Body Fluids, Chocolate, Dairy Products, Eggs, Grass and Mustard

Presoak the item in an enzyme presoak for 30 minutes or longer, and then launder with oxygen bleach. Egg stains may come out if you cover them with salt an hour before laundering. Mustard may respond well to hydrogen peroxide.

Candle Wax, Crayons, Grease and Oil

Scrape off as much substance as possible. Lay the item flat between two paper towels with the stain down, and then move a warm iron over it. Replace the towels often until no more stain comes out, and then sponge it with prewash enzyme stain remover before laundering. You can also try rubbing the spot with non-gel toothpaste.

Coffee, Tea and Red Wine

Soak the clothing in cool water. Before laundering, pre-treat it with a paste made from 1/2 cup of warm water and natural laundry powder detergent. Vinegar will remove coffee and tea, as well as beer. Coffee with cream and sugar may have to soak in an enzyme presoak because of the cream. Rub red wine with salt, and then pour cool water on it from two or three feet above to flush out the stain. You could also blot it with club soda repeatedly until the stain disappears. If it persists, soak the garment in water and borax. If the wine has dried, rub the borax into the stain, and then blot with plenty of water working from the outside in.

Cosmetics, Collars, Cuffs, Deodorant, Perfume, Perspiration and Shoe Polish

Pre-treat these stains with a paste made from warm water and natural laundry powder detergent, and then wash as usual. Makeup may come out with shampoo, or you could try blotting with vodka and then spraying with hydrogen peroxide and lipstick may come out with non-gel toothpaste. If perspiration is stubborn, soak it in an enzyme presoak.


Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t come out; it’s tough. Nevertheless, try rubbing vegetable glycerin into it. After a few minutes, rinse it in cold water, and then wash it with oxygen bleach. If that fails, soak it in one part hydrogen peroxide and 10 parts water and then rewash it.

Discoloration from Minerals

Iron, manganese and rust can discolor clothing. Lay the garment flat, and cover the stain with a paste of water and cream of tartar before laundering. Another way is to put lemon juice on the stain, rub salt into it, and then let it dry in the sun to bleach it.

Fruit Juice and Mildew

Blot with lemon juice or vinegar, and wash with oxygen bleach.

Ink – ballpoint or non-permanent marker

Liberally spray vodka on the stain, let it sit 10 minutes, and then wash. You can also soak it in lemon juice, milk, rubbing alcohol or vinegar.


Brush off the mud, and then pre-treat it with warm water and natural laundry powder detergent paste before laundering. Heavy stains may need to soak in an enzyme presoak.

Nail Polish (Can find no green solution to this, sorry!)

These stains may be permanent. Nonetheless, unless the fabric is acetate or triacetate, use nail polish remover. Lay the garment between two paper towels with the stain down, and then apply the remover. Replace the towels often until the stain disappears, and then launder it.


Rinse a water-based paint stain in warm water before it dries. For oil-based paint (which is not green at all!), rub it with the paint thinner (obviously not green either) recommended on the can. Pre-treat it with warm water and laundry detergent paste before laundering.

Scorch Marks

Soak in oxygen bleach and hot water, and then launder as usual.

Sticky Stuff

Remove sticky items such as adhesive tape gunk, gum and rubber cement by putting icy water on it. After it hardens, scrape it off.


Rub the moistened stain with a bar of soap, rinse it out, and then wash. You may need to soak a difficult tobacco stain in enzyme presoak.


Soak the clothing in enzyme presoak for 30 minutes or more before washing. Also, try rubbing the spot with vinegar before washing.

Typewriter Correction Fluid

Rub the spot with WD-40 (a naturally derived and biodegradable lubricant).


Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar and one cup of water in a spray bottle and spray the stain. After five minutes, blot the stain out with an absorbent cloth. Repeat the process as necessary. A mix of vinegar and baking soda might work, as might an enzyme presoak.

Stay tuned, as we will add more green stain and spot removing tips to this list as we learn about them.

Welcome to my website!

Julia has been practicing green cleaning for several years as the owner of As You Like It Home Cleaning and organic gardening for almost 20 years running Julia Houriet Custom Gardening. She studied landscape design at Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge Massachusetts. Her expertise is gleaned from education and years of experience.

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