Stains strike hard and fast -- so my initial reaction is always to do the same. Out comes the Shout!, Resolve, OxiClean ... you get the picture. For a long time, my pantry was full of these products. What I didn’t know is that it was also full of tons of other stain-fighting products -- none of which were labeled as such.
Baking powder, salt, vinegar, and even my fudge-making Karo syrup all possessed powers I was unaware of: They all fight stains.
And there are many more items lining your shelves, all with special powers, just waiting for their chance to emerge from the shadows and join forces in the battle against that evil of all evils: the stuck-on stain.
Here are those staples of stain fighting, in no particular order:
Salt -- Pour it on fresh stains to soak up the moisture. Remove blood from clothes by soaking in cold salted water for at least an hour, then washing normally. Salt also helps lift ink and rust stains.
Karo syrup -- Got a grass stain? Pour corn syrup over it, let soak, and then scrub clean.
Club soda -- The most well-known of all the stain-fighting heroes, club soda is a good all-purpose cleaner, thanks to its persistent bubbling action.
Baking soda -- After blotting a red wine stain on the carpet, apply a baking soda-water paste to lift the rest of the stain. Mix with vinegar to remove underarm stains and ring-around-the-collar from shirts.
White vinegar -- Use it in your laundry as a pre-treating soak by mixing with equal parts of water. Clean mildew and stains from grout with the same solution. Soak old carpet stains with the solution for a deep clean. Saturate a tomato or grease stain, let soak, then wash. Rub vinegar into deodorant, wine, and coffee or tea stains.
Cornstarch -- Gets up grease and oil spills. Cover spill with cornstarch, wait 30 minutes, and then vacuum or sweep up.
Rotten milk -- Gross, right? But you can use the solids to remove ink. Just rub the curds into the stain and when it begins to lift, wash the garment.
Lemon juice -- Clean rust and lime scale with a direct application. Let it soak, then rinse and wash normally.
White wine -- Pour over freshly spilled red wine to prevent the stain from setting.
Vodka -- Removes general clothing stains. Pre-treat by pouring vodka onto affected area and allowing to soak before washing.
Image via Megan Van Schaick/Silver & Chalk