Stains on Household Surfaces

Whatever the stain may be, or whatever the stained surface, there is probably a good homemade household stain cleaner that is environmentally safe that will work!

Stains on household surfaces

Have you ever tried to figure out how to get that wine stain out of your carpet; or, that coffee stain out of the couch upholstery? Best way is to get to get to the stain as quick as possible while it’s still wet. However immediate treatment is not always possible. No matter! Whatever the stain may be, or whatever the stained surface, there is probably a good homemade household stain cleaner that is environmentally safe that will work for you. Get ready to reach into the cupboard to grab some of these supplies so you can banish those blots.

Stains on Household Surfaces – How to get them out the Environmentally Friendly Way

With all stain removal, every stain scenario is unique and there is usually more than one solution to every problem. Remember to test a substance or solution on a hidden area of the furniture before going all out with it. There is basic chemistry involved so just use your head and test first and be ready to try another solution if the one you are trying doesn’t work.

Stains on Furniture and Upholstery

2 great stain removers for wood furniture finished with oil, lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, and varnish are mayonnaise, an oily, slightly acidic food that also acts as a furniture stain remover and furniture polish. Try mayonnaise especially on those white water stains left from glasses, cups, cans and bottles. Apply it to the stains, leave for a few minutes, and then wipe it up with a soft cloth. And toothpaste, the non-gel kind, i.e. chalk based toothpaste, is a slightly abrasive alkaline everyday substance that can be used for stains that are deeper in the wood. Rub toothpaste onto the stain using your fingertips in a gentle back and forth motion until you see results. Wipe away excess and polish areas with a little vinegar and water.

Water Stains or Water Rings on Wood Furniture

Here is another version of that homemade mayonnaise stain remover but using vinegar and olive oil. Same difference actually, oil with a little bit of acid in it. Anyway, mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 cup of olive oil and rub the solution on the white stains. Let sit for a few minutes and then rub the area dry with a soft cloth.

Grease Stains on wood furniture

Blot the stain, apply a 50/50 mixture of vinegar/water with a wet rag or a cotton swab, and then dry it with a cloth.

Paint Drips on wood furniture

Wipe up water-based paint immediately with a clean, damp cloth. Let oil-based paints dry, and then carefully pry them away with a plastic spatula.

Permanent Marker Stains on wood furniture

Try to rub this off with non-gel toothpaste. If that doesn’t work look for some WD-40 lubricant spray which contains mild solvent properties and use sparingly. Wipe away toothpaste or WD-40 with your 50/50 vinegar water solution.

Alcohol Stains on wood furniture

Blot the stain first, if possible, to soak up excess, then rub in a thin paste of Rottenstone (def. A soft decomposed limestone, used in powder form as a polishing material) and boiled linseed oil. Polish the stain away.

Painted Furniture Stain Removal

For general stain removal, use a barely damp rag to apply a mixture of liquid dishwashing detergent and hot water in a circular motion. Dry it with a soft, clean cloth. To remove stickers and decals, soak their edges with undiluted white vinegar, and then scrape them off with a driver’s license. Or, if very stubborn, use rubbing alcohol–it removes sticky goo really well! But test it on a small non visible area of your furniture because it may remove the paint. I used 91% alcohol on an old chair that I bought and it removed the sticky stuff and actually made that unpainted wood shine! You never know until you test it out.

Upholstery Stains

Some general rules about getting out upholstery stains is to always blot, never wipe. Use a cellulose sponge instead of a microfiber or cotton cloth. For general upholstery stains, you can

  1. mix up a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar and 1 part water.
  2. Another simple solution to try out is one of club soda with a drop of mild dish detergent in it.
  3. A third basic recipe is 6 parts water and 1 part each of glycerin and liquid detergent. These three solutions are good for many difficult stains including grass, rust, sweat, tomato-based foods and urine.

Canvas Upholstery

Apply a mild, neutral ph detergent to a thick, absorbent cloth, and then blot the stain with it. Wipe it clean with a different damp cloth. Finally, dry it with a cloth. For tougher stains such as grass and oil, apply a paste made from 1/2 cup of warm water and washing powder. Leave it for 10 minutes. Blot it with a damp rag, and then vacuum it.

Corduroy and Velvet Upholstery

Briskly mix water and mild dishwashing detergent together until they suds up. Apply the suds to the stain with a cellulose or sea sponge and then blot the area until it goes away. Blot again with a dry cloth to dry it.


Lightly blot stains immediately with a white towel being careful not to rub the fabric. Allow thicker stains to dry, peel them off and brush off the rest.

Leather Upholstery

For general stains, use a damp cloth to blot with 1 part water and 1 part mild soap. Once removed, blot again with a clean, damp cloth. To remove urine, blot it, and then briskly blend 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish detergent and one quart of warm water. Apply only the resulting suds to the stain and gently wipe it.

Make Floor Stains Disappear Naturally

Cork, Linoleum and Vinyl

Remove stains by applying a paste made from baking soda and water, and then gently wipe it with a wet rag.


As with wood furniture, mayonnaise is helpful in removing many stains on hardwood floors.

Plastic Laminate

For general stains, mix baby shampoo with warm water gently to avoid creating suds. Apply the mixture with a spray bottle, and let it sit for a few minutes before mopping it with a dry mop.


Blot the stain with paper towels, and then clean it with mild liquid dish detergent. After that, apply a thick layer of paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, cornstarch or flour. Cover it with plastic wrap that has a few holes poked into it. After several hours, wipe it up with a wet rag. Repeat if necessary.

Synthetic Carpet

For a good all-purpose stain remover, combine a 1/4 teaspoon of clear liquid dishwashing detergent with a cup of tepid water. Do not pour it on the stain, but rather apply it to a damp cloth, and blot the stain. You could also use a mixture of 2 parts water and one part distilled vinegar.

Natural Carpet

Use a spray bottle to mist the stain lightly with one teaspoon of clear liquid dishwashing detergent, and then blot it up. You can also use a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar.

This is certainly not the list to end all lists, but it is a great start for learning how to clean stains on household surfaces the green way. It’s also a good start to keeping your money in your pocket as opposed to giving it to the companies that are harming the environment manufacturing dangerous chemicals to remove stains on household surfaces.

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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