Forget expensive stain removers and stocking up on laundry detergents. With a few essential ingredients, you can make your own! Here are a few recipes to get you started.
Ballpoint ink and felt-tip pens: Sponge with denatured alcohol, spray with hairspray or blot with nail polish remover.
Grass stains: Test fabric for colour-fastness first. Sponge with eucalyptus oil.
Lipstick and cosmetic stains: Soak the stain in glycerine for several hours, then wash as usual.
Oil and grease stains: Grease spots on clothing, carpets and soft furnishings can be removed by rubbing the affected area with talcum powder, placing absorbent paper towels under and over the stain, and then ironing. The paper towels will lift and absorb the stain. Renew the powder and paper towels as they becomes oily. If possible, wash or sponge the item in 12.5 grams (one tablespoon) borax added to 250 millilitres (one cup) water, once the major stain has been removed.
Protein stains: For example, egg, blood or meat juice stains. Do not use heat as this will set the stain. Soak in cold, soapy water until the stain is almost gone, and then wash as usual.
Red wine: Pour table salt liberally over the wine stain as soon as it occurs. When the salt has absorbed the wine, brush or vacuum off. Dampen the stain slightly with soda water and reapply salt. Repeat until the salt no longer absorbs any colour, then sponge with ammonia-based carpet-cleaning solution.
Rust and scorch marks: Apply a paste of bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice. Allow to dry and then brush off.
Stubborn stains on fabrics: Spot test eucalyptus oil on the inside of a hem or other hidden area before applying it to the stain.
Stubborn stains on surfaces: Eucalyptus oil will remove many solvent-based adhesives and stains from furniture, glass, benchtops, wooden floors, vinyl, linoleum, etc. Apply the oil to a cloth and rub the stain hard.
Before you switch from commercial detergents to home-made washing mixtures, it is important to rinse your machine and wash your clothing in washing soda. Otherwise, leftover traces of the commercial detergents may cause yellowing. Dissolve 250 millilitres (one cup) of washing soda in two litres (eight cups) of water and put your machine through a clothes-free cycle using 500 millilitres (two cups) of this mix. Thereafter, use 500 millilitres per load.
Basic laundry liquid
- 2 litres (8 cups) of hot water
- 1 bar of pure soap (about 100 grams/3 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small pieces, or the same amount of pure soap flakes
- 275 grams (1 1/4 cup) borax or 275 grams (1 1/4 cup) washing soda
- Dissolve the soap and the borax or the washing soda in the water and store in a bottle or jar.
- If using bar soap, place the water in an old pot, add the soap and heat over a low flame, stirring constantly until the soap is dissolved.Do not boil.
- Use approximately 125 millilitres (half a cup) of this laundry liquid for each load.
- For heavily soiled loads, add 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of ammonia to the wash. The ammonia also works as a fabric softener and conditioner.
- In hard-water areas, add an extra 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of borax to the mixture.
To soften fabrics: Add 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of white vinegar or glycerine to the final rinse.
To brighten and remove general stains: Soak clothing overnight in a bucket of water containing 125 millilitres (half a cup) of cloudy ammonia.
Always test for colour-fastness before soaking any clothing. If ammonia is too strong, soak clothing in a bucket of water with 125 millilitres (half a cup) of white vinegar.