Natural Stain Removers (and Why You Should Use Them)

If you’ve ever knocked over a glass of red wine, spilled coffee or misjudged a forkful of curry, you’ll know these mishaps only ever occur when you’re wearing white. Life happens. You can either cry over the spilled wine or clean it up (and then pour some more).

Understanding how stain removers work is helpful, but it’s by no means imperative. Especially if avoiding an unsightly stain is your main priority. (You can entertain your inner-science geek some other time.)

One approach is to use a regular store-bought stain remover. It will probably do the job, but chances are it’s also full of harmful chemicals. Why put your health at risk for the sake of a blouse (even if it is your favorite) when you don’t have to?

Besides, there are plenty of natural stain removers you can use that don’t have words like poison, corrosive or irritant on the label. Making your own non-toxic cleaning kit doesn’t require too much in the way of special ingredients. In fact, you more than likely already have most of them on hand already.

If you’d rather buy your cleaning products (I get it, we can’t all be all off-the-grid hippies), make sure they don’t contain any potentially toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s guide to healthy cleaning is a handy tool for this purpose.


1. Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is a must in the laundry room. Whether you’re after brighter, whiter clothes or simply want to remove those horrible underarm perspiration stains, vinegar is your guy. Adding a cup of vinegar to the final rinse will also leave your clothes feeling soft and, weirdly, smelling fresh.

2. Lemons

It turns out lemons are good for more than just tequila shots. Slice a lemon in half, add it it to a pot of boiling water and throw in your old, stained socks. Simmer for an hour and then hang them to dry on the washing line. The sun will continue the job, making them even whiter.

3. Talc, Cornstarch or Chalk

Junk food is fun, except when you end up with oil stains on your pants. Unless, of course, you have talc, cornstarch or plain white chalk on hand to save the day. The trick is to treat the stain immediately. Sprinkle the affected area with talc, leave for 10 minutes and then wash.

4. Table Salt

Yummy on fries and perfect for absorbing those pesky red wine spills. Pour a liberal amount of salt onto the wine and leave it to soak up the liquid. Be sure to brush off the dried salt before washing, as it will stain if you don’t. If you forget, here’s how to remove salt stains.

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda, as it’s also known) is another excellent natural stain remover. Combine a cup of bicarb with half a cup of water and mix into a paste to apply on stains before washing. Helpfully, bicarb also removes unpleasant odors.

Tip: always treat stains from the back, rather than the front, to avoid rubbing the stain in more. Thanks to Wellness Mama for this handy piece of laundry advice.

Remember, the natural approach isn’t just good for dealing with stains. You can clean your toilet, keep your shower shiny and even make your own scrubbing cleansers to get rid of grimy bath rings.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thank you!

Ruth S
Ruth S9 months ago


Cindy S
Cindy Smith9 months ago


Clare O
Clare O'Beara9 months ago


Clare O
Clare O'Beara9 months ago

I wear mostly black socks so boiling them with lemons won't help

Sue H
Sue H10 months ago

Helpful information, thanks.

Cindy S
Past Member 10 months ago

good tips

Mia G
Past Member 10 months ago

thank you

Margie FOURIE11 months ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson11 months ago