They say the secret to adulthood is dealing with spills and stains as soon as they happen, but sometimes life is too messy to let us do instant cleaning. The average adult spills coffee on their linen, white shirts at least two hundred times in their lifetime (unscientific poll). Some of us have more pasta sauce in our clothes than on our plates. And if you are a clumsy cook, you certainly have lost many pieces of clothing to the rebound effect of cooking oil at high temperatures. And if you have kids… You are fighting an endless war against stains. To help you win some battles, here is our ultimate guide for finding the best stain remover.
The Best Stain Remover: General-Purpose Degreaser
We will talk about removing food stains soon, but first of all, you need to get a general-purpose degreaser. The best stain remover for old stains are sold in concentrate form, so once you dilute it at home, you should have enough to last for a couple of months. Use a spray bottle to store the mix of concentrate and water, then spray the degreaser solution directly in your clothing and scrub. Once the solution has gone well through the fibers, wash your clothing, and let it dry naturally. General-purpose degreasers are useful for your clothes and essential to tackle grime and spills in your kitchen. You can also look for engine degreasers, and depending on their composition (see below for tips!), they might be safe for use in surfaces and clothes (but dilute it!).
Choose Environmentally-Safe Products
Now, this should go without saying: a lot of cleaning products can be hazardous to your health. You want to be safe with degreasers, because many heavy-duty products use substances that are aggressive to the skin of pets and children, contain allergens, or eventually lead to long-term respiratory problems. Choose a degreaser that is biodegradable, so you won’t get dangerous residues, and phosphate-free. In many states, phosphate has been banned from many household cleaning supplies, like laundry detergents, but it can still be found in dishwasher detergents everywhere, for example.
Environmentally-safe products leave your home healthier, but also help to avoid the degradation of ecosystems that feed your family. Phosphate is a water pollutant that contaminates food sources in the ocean through the accumulation of toxic and heavy metals. While some of these products may be more expensive (short-term), we should all aim to weigh the cost-benefit of “green products.”
How to Fight Big Bad Guy #1: Coffee Stains
It’s really not that hard to remove coffee stains. This is an easy enemy, so we are just flexing our muscles here. For getting rid of coffee stains, spray a little bit of your preferred general-purpose degreaser, remove coffee moisture with baby wipes (or paper towels if you don’t have those) and then apply a little bit of any of the following ingredients: vinegar, baking soda, salt or an egg yolk. Yes, egg yolk. It sounds weird, but it works. Beat an egg yolk, then gently work it into the stained fabric. Whatever substance you choose to help you, make sure you rinse very, very thoroughly and drip-dry it.
How to Fight Big Bad Guy #2: Cooking Oil
Fried foods are a staple of the human existence, with all these fats, salts, and sugars sending fireworks to the reward areas of our brains. But if you don’t know how to get cooking oil out of clothes, chances are you have everlasting evidence of how often you’re rewarding yourself with delicious, unhealthy, and crunchy foods.
One simple strategy against cooking oil stains requires only a good, general-purpose degreaser which can act as an oil stain remover. Once you notice the stain of shame, scrap the excess oil with a spoon, apply your degreaser solution immediately and let it sit there for a good 10 minutes. Then, you can hand wash it or put it through a machine cycle, but make sure you use the hottest water possible for the type of fabric you’re cleaning. Warm water helps remove the water from the fibers, cold water will not help you very much. Repeat this step if you have meaner stains (or clothing literally soaked in oil) until you are happy with the results. Let it dry naturally!
How to Fight Big Bad Guy #3: Pizza Grease
Pizza. America’s greatest love (move to the left, burgers). You can have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Children should learn in civics class how to get pizza grease out of clothes. Because it’s a mix of different stain-agents (sauce, cheese, oil), pizza grease can be a little tougher to remove. Before applying the best stain remover degreaser of your choice, cover the stain with a powder (baking soda, cornstarch, baby powder and salt are some of your options), then let it sit for 2 minutes. Spray your degreaser and blot it with a paper towel. Leave it for another 10 minutes, then send through the washer. Voila!