For Safer Stain Removal
  • Always test for colorfastness (in a less visible area).


  • Treat stain as soon as possible.


  • Blot, never rub, a fresh stain.


  • Already dried? Brush off as much residue as possible, then treat.


  • Keep the stain from spreading by moving from the edges to the center of the spot.


  • Apply cleaning agent to the underside of the fabric to force the stain out.


  • Be patient, you may need to repeat a treatment a few times to see results. If you want to try a different approach, be sure to rinse area thoroughly first.


  • Never mix chlorine bleach with any other cleaning agents; it creates toxic fumes.


  • When in doubt, dry clean.


  • Ammonia
  • To remove perspiration stains from washable garments, soak in cold water. Then soak in solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 tsp. detergent and 1 Tbsp. ammonia for 30 minutes. rinse and dry. don't apply ammonia to silk, wool or their blends.


  • To lift lipstick from fabric, rub in a vegetable oil and let sit for 10 minutes. Dab spot with ammonia and dish soap and launder as usual.


  • A solution of 1 tsp. ammonia to one cup water can be used to remove stains caused by milk, ice cream, ketchup, chocolate--even soy sauce (clean with dish detergent before treating stain).


  • To treat blood on carpet, apply a cool detergent solution, blot, then follow with a cloth dampened with a solution of 1/2 cup water and 1 Tbsp. ammonia.



  • Baking Soda
  • You can also apply a paste of baking soda and water to perspiration stains on washable clothing. Let sit; wash as usual.


  • Remove black scuff marks from nonwax floors by rubbing them with a paste of baking soda and just a bit of water.


  • Coffee and tea stains on cups disappear when lightly scrubbed with baking soda.


  • Use as a paste (with a little water) on a toothbrush or cloth to gently scrub off grass stains on leather boots and shoes.


  • To remove crayon marks from blackboards, scrub gently with baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.


  • Crayon marks on walls? This worked wonderfully! ! A damp rag, dipped in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).


  • Remove spaghetti sauce, ketchup or crayon stains on a plastic high chair tray by sprinkling with baking soda and then wiping clean with a damp sponge or cloth.



  • Bleach
  • This basic removes stains from coffee to ketchup on washable and colorfast fabrics (always test first). Never use bleach on wool, silk, mohair, leather or spandex.


  • Apply with a cotton=tip swab to work on small stains or spots when you want to avoid washing the entire item with bleach.


  • To fight mildew in the bathroom, dilute 3/4 cup bleach per one gallon of water. Apply to surface, let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.


  • To clean dirty grout, cover it with cotton balls or strips of fabric (or paper towels) that have been soaked in bleach. Let sit for an hour before scrubbing with an old toothbrush. Rinse clean.



  • Club Soda
  • Apply immediately to red wine or colored-juice spills on carpets or tablecloths. Let sit for a minute, then blot. Follow with a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 cup water to completely remove stain. Blot and let dry.


  • To conquer chocolate stains, first blot up excess, then flush with club soda.


  • Did a houseplant upend itself on your carpet? Vacuum excess dirt and spritz with club soda to clean residue.

  • Flush blood stains with club soda and dry with a towel. Repeat as necessary.



  • Eraser, Pink Rubber

  • Lightly rub soils on cotton upholstery to "erase" stains.


  • Remove finger marks from woodwork and scuff marks on hard floors.


  • The stain eraser also cleans dirt or spots on piano keys.



  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Removes blood stains from washable fabrics (use diluted on fabrics that may bleach out). Pour peroxide through the stain, flush with cold water, then pre-treat and launder as susal.


  • After flushing spilled coffee on a carpet with cold water, wash with dish detergent and warm water; rinse thoroughly.


  • Treat stubborn bathroom stains with a paste of cream of tartar and peroxide. Scrub, let dry and then rinse clean.


  • Fade light scorch marks from colorfast fabrics with a solution of 1 part peroxide, 3 parts water. Repeat as needed.



  • Ice Cubes
  • A sticky situation? Place ice on gum stuck to fabric. Let harden and scrape off.


  • Place ice in a plastic bag to freeze candle wax on carpeting. Scrape up as much as possible. Put a few paper towels on remaining spot and press with a warm iron. Repeat as needed.


  • You can use the same technique if you spill grease on a wood floor.



  • Lemon Juice
  • Remove small rust stains on white, washable fabrics with a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Place item in the sun to "bleach" out the stain. (Check label first. Some white fabrics are too delicate for this approach).


  • Or add one cup of lemon juice to wash water to remove discolorations from white, washable cottons.


  • Apply as a paste with salt to clean brass, copper or stainless steel. Scrub gently, rinse.



  • Mayonnaise
  • Rub into water marks on wood furniture. Let set for an hour; wipe clean. Repeat as necessary. Polish surface once spot disappears.


  • Rub a dab into chewing gum caught in hair. Once softened, gently use a wide-tooth comb to detangle.



  • Petroleum Jelly
  • May remove water or white ring stains as well as minor scratches from wood furniture. Rub into area, let set for 24 hours. Then rub again and wipe away excess. Polish when done.


  • Soften and remove hardened latex or acrylic paint from washable fabrics. Launder as soon as possible.


  • Use to lift lipstick stains from cloth napkins. Apply to the area before washing as usual.



  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Erase ink stains. Blot fabric with alcohol (or an alcohol-based hair spray) to remove.

  • Use to sponge grass stains off of cloth or fabric.

  • Dab up traces of candle wax from your tablecloth. After scraping up hardened wax, place paper towels over spot and press with a warm iron to lift stain. Sponge any residue with rubbing alcohol.



  • Shaving Cream, Foamy White
  • Spot-clean carpets by spraying area. Let sit and wipe with clean, damp cloth.


  • Use as a waterless hand cleanser in a workshop along with paper towels.


  • Apply shaving cream using a clean cloth and blot up spilled nail polish on your couch or floor. Rinse; dry thoroughly.



  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Digging in the dirt? Apply to hands to remove dirt or grease before washing them with soap and hot water. Also removes stubborn smells on hands.


  • Use to treat grease stains on clothes. Rub into spot and then launder as usual.


  • Remove remaining tar stains from clothing after scraping off excess. Let it absorb for an hour before washing as usual.



  • WD-40
  • Use to remove Silly Putty, crayon, tar or gum from most washable surfaces. Test in small area first. Rinse; wash with soap and water.


  • Spray stubborn grease stains on washable fabrics. Let sit for 10 minutes, then work in dishwashing liquid and flush with warm water. Pretreat and launder as usual.


  • Remove sticky sap from your gardening tools by spraying on the lubricant and wiping clean.


  • White Toothpaste
  • Apply nongel, white toothpaste to grass stains on white sneakers (leather or canvas). Scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse clean.


  • Brush toothpaste on crayon marks on walls.


  • Polish away small scratches on glassware. Squeeze toothpaste onto a clean cloth and gently scrub surface.



  • White Vinegar
  • Take out tomate-based stains on fabric. Flush with cool water, apply vinegar, and rinse.


  • To clean urine stains from carpets: First blot up excess urine, flush with cool water and soak up excess liquid. Wash area with detergent and warm water, then apply a solution of half vinegar and half water. Blot up and let dry.


  • Get rid of stains left by antiperspirants and deodorants on washables by lightly rubbing areas with white vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes before washing.


  • Remove salt stains on shoes and boots by wiping them with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Polish after stains are removed.


  • Loosen film stains in glass vases by saturating or soaking them first in vinegar.


  • Apply full-strength vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave on 10 to 15 minutes before wiping and rinsing clean. It may be necessary to scrub area with a brush or sponge.


  • Clean and deodorize mattresses after wetting accidents. First blot up as much urine as possible. Wipe area with a vinegar-dampened sponge and blot again. Next, sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it soak up excess moisture. When dry, brush or vacuum residue off.