6 Secret Homemade Stain Removers That Kick Butt

By Paul Michael on 6 September 2007 (Updated 8 June 2011) 78 comments
Photo: fantail

Stains. Since having kids I've noticed that my house is full of them. In the carpet, on clothes, on furniture, even on my teeth (yes, I had to drink a lot of coffee to keep me awake during those night feeds). But what I hate more than stains is paying $5 for a stain remover that never seems to do what it says on the box. "Surely there are better products I can make at home, using things I already have" I thought. And boy was I right.

I spent hours trawling the various expert sites and video libraries trying to find the perfect homemade remedy for each and every stain I wanted to zap into oblivion. My list was a long one but I knew with a little perseverance and a lot of time I could find the solutions. I did, and now I'm sharing them with you. (See also: 14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips)

I can testify that these have all worked in my household (except #6, you'll see why), but your level of success will depend on your stain and the length of time you've had it. Best of all, most of the simple ingredients needed are almost certainly in your home already, so you won't need to spend an extra dime.

1. Mayo + Cigarette Ash = No More Water Stains

Amazing. This really did work so well. Now, I'm not suggesting you all become smokers, if you need the ash you can collect it from the smoker's room at work or simply buy a small pack and let a few burn down.

2. The Alka Seltzer Rust Remover

OK, that's probably not a stain if you want to split hairs, but I had some items that were rusted solid. I found out that a simple plop, plop, fizz, fizz was all it took to turn rusty bolts into lightening bolts.

3. Carpet Steam-Cleaner

Why spend your hard-earned cash on a SpotBot or even a carpet cleaning product like Tuff Stuff? Just a towel, an iron and a few household items will do the job for you.

4. White Wine for Red Wine Stains

I always wondered if that urban legend about white wine zapping red wine was true. Now you can see for yourself.

5. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitener

How much does it cost to whiten your teeth? Anywhere from $5 for those toothpastes that don't work, to several hundred dollars for dental work. This one costs almost nothing and works well, but please, don't leave it on for longer than 20 minutes and do rinse thoroughly. Don't swallow.

6. Killing Face Stains (Acne) With Baking Soda

Is that a stretch? Yeah, you got me, but I thought it was worth including. Especially as professional acne products can cost hundreds of dollars. This one, I confess, was not tried by myself or my family but a friend. He was very, very happy with the results.

Now you can enjoy a stain-free house and keep your wallet nice and fat. Enjoy.

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Guest's picture

I have found shaving cream gets out everything but tar. Shaving cream is mostly just sodium lauryl sulphate, and it's found in just about all cleaning products. It works by loosening fibers to allow the stain to come out. Thats an industry secret they don't want you to know.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an emviornmental HAZARD! It is simply a sudsing agent added to almost every cleanser you can think of (Even toothpaste). It has no cleansing properties. It only serves to give us bubbles and the illusion that we are really getting something clean. This is the main reason I make my own cleansers for home and health.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate does more than make bubbles. The reason it is in shampoo is because it also kills lice. If people actually left the shampoo on their hair for the one to two minutes recommended any lice would die. I work with children and once the parents are aware of this my class never has a lice infestation. It works!

Guest's picture
Marcus

I can't comment on whether SLS kills lice. But I can say that SLS is much more than a lathering agent. It is a detergent/surfactant. There are rumors on the Internet that it causes cancer, but these claims have no scientific backing. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a skin irritant, and there are much gentler cleansing agents, such as sodium laureth sulfate, but that does not mean sodium lauryl sulfate is dangerous. Many synthetic cleansing agents are actually more gentle than traditional soap (which are made with lye and animal or plant fats).

Guest's picture
Kris

I couldn't believe it worked, but I used hairspray to get blue ballpoint pen ink out of a t-shirt. Looked good as new after. Hweird.

Guest's picture
Guest

about the hair spray ink thing. well, I tried it, and well no results. guess that INK stain was REALLY set in there. but, glade it worked well for yourself.

Paul Michael's picture

I didn't find that anywhere online, that really is secret.

Guest's picture
CHARLIE

I USE HAIRSPRAY ALL THE TIME FOR INK REMOVER BEFORE I WAS. I HAVE A TEENAGE SON THAT GETS BORED IN SCHOOL AND PLAYS WITH PENS THUS INK STAINS. IT WORKS EVERY TIME.

Guest's picture
Sherri

We once had a dog that busted her stitches after a surgery, and she got blood all over a light blue carpet. We were able to get the blood stains completely out. If blood stains get on washable fabric or carpet, just pour some hydrogen peroxide on it the stain, and watch the stain bubble right out (you may need to scrub with a brush or white towel) - for fabrics, you will need to wash through with clean water; for carpet, you will need to blot with a clean white towel, dampened with clean water. Try not to saturate the carpet too much, of course, because you don't want it to stay wet too long or it will mildrew. After the stain is gone, just blot with a dry white towel.

* NEVER use VINEGAR on a blood stain - vinegar will make the stain become permanent.

Guest's picture
Emms

I bought a stack of red dirt shirts in \Hawai'i which are basically stained with rust (same thing that stains in blood) and the nice shop keeper suggested if I wanted them to stay brighter to do the first washing with vinegar added. So, yes vinegar will set any iron-based stain.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks Sherri! That was great advice! The Hydrogen peroxide removed 2 cat vomit stains in my blue carpet. I couldn't believe it!! Thanks so much, C.

Guest's picture
Sherri

Along a similar vein, while not actually a stain, if a pet urinates on carpet, you can get rid of the smell (as long as it is not a chronic occurrence) by cleaning the carpet with vinegar. This also discourages pets from returning to use the same spot again.

*NEVER use AMMONIA on a pet-urine-on-carpet-accident, as this will make the smell stronger, and ENCOURAGE the pet to return to that spot again.

Guest's picture
Guest

BE CAREFUL with hydrogen peroxide on your teeth. If you use too strong of a solution, or leave it on too long, you can seriously damage or even destroy ALL your teeth. If the enamel on the outside of the tooth is eroded, your teeth will have to be removed!! I know someone that messed with exactly this formula and destroyed every tooth in her mouth!

Stick to the baking soda/peroxide toothpastes they sell in the drug store. These have been formulated to prevent irreversible damage. Ya, they aren't as strong or effective, but you get to keep all your teeth. Use all the home recipes you want on your clothes, but don't trust some random Internet video for your health, PLEASE!~!

Guest's picture
Guest

How long did your friend leave the solution on her teeth, and how often did she bleach? Even the mild tooth whiteners advise against regular bleaching because ALL tooth whiteners cause erosion of the enamel. Also, did she use a 3% solution, or a stronger one? All of these things make a BIG difference in the results.

Guest's picture
Guest

EXACTLY !!!

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a dental hygienist and I can guarantee that the hydrogen peroxide did NOT cause the person to lose all their teeth.

Guest's picture
Grace

I can attest to the baking soda thing, although I don't use it quite like that (I'll have to try it). I mix a small amount of baking soda in with my facial cleanser when I wash my face. It acts as a sort of micro-dermabrasion type product and leaves your face feeling silky smooth as a bonus.

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks. Told me too late. Now my teeth are ruined.

Paul Michael's picture

I did some research on the Hydrogen Peroxide and several reputable sites had warned against the STRONG solution for obvious reasons, but the weak solution they said was fine. I also asked two dentists and they both said that a weak solution mixed with baking soda, used for a short amount of time, should be fine.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sorry if I missed it, but exactly what proportions constitute a strong solution and what constitute a weak solution? I really want to try this!

Paul Michael's picture

is what I saw on most websites advocating H202 as an oral remedy. You may want to water it down even further if you're unsure of the chemical in your mouth, or how sensitive your teeth are. Again, if you're in any doubt at all don't even try it. All of the videos here are not exactly certified 100% effective, or safe, by the FDA. So it's one of those 'at your own risk' situations.

Snopes has more...

http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/peroxide.asp 

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks so much for your help! If I decide to go for it, I will come back with a full report.

Guest's picture
Guest

Ok, everyone, I occasionally have sensitive teeth, but I was desperate, so I tried this. IT WORKS. As instructed, I took hydrogen peroxide 3% solution, mixed it with the baking soda, and applied it to my teeth. Because you can't swallow, I ended up spitting a lot and getting rid of the paste at the same time, so I reapplied it repeatedly during the 20 minutes I left it on. My teeth are definitely whiter (I got a second opinion too). My teeth feel smooth and clean. They do not feel more sensitive. If this goes bad ways in a few days, I will report back, but I'm fairly convinced it's safe. By the way, I don't know how you can avoid getting the paste on your gums, but it had no effect whatsoever (it's not like your gums go white). Don't know how long this whitening effect will last, but right now I am very pleased with the results.

Guest's picture
Ted

OK, cleaning buffs. What do you use to clean a STAINLESS STEEL OUTDOOR GRILL? I have tried a number of items. I don't want to use something that will scratch the surface. Baked on grease and burn marks clean up, but it takes a long time of rubbing and rubbing and rubbing. I need an easy method. Any ideas??? Thanks for the help.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hey Ted,

My dad mention to me about tinfoil on your grills and turn the BBQ on and leave it on high for tweenty minutes. That should do the trick and it works believe me!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Along the lines of Alka Seltzer for acne, a very popular tip exchanged on several beauty and skincare forums is the "aspirin mask:" crush 3 or 4 aspirin tablets in the palm of your hand, wet them with just enough water to make a slurry out of them, and apply like a mask (it won't be completely even and it won't dry; that's ok). Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse off. The key is to use uncoated aspirin so it will dissolve right away. Usually that also happens to be the cheapest generic store brand. This concoction is hugely popular for all types of skin, it works somewhat like very mild dermabrasion and the price can't be beat.

I heard about the hairspray on ballpoint ink trick in the past. Milk is another substance that will remove ink from fabric. With any of these things it's a good idea to test on a concealed area first if you are trying it on a delicate fabric (or leave it to a professional if the garment is both delicate and important!).

Guest's picture
Guest

Although I honestly haven't tried this on a BBQ, we used to use Preen to degrease our engines. Preen is an Australian(don't know what country your in!) pre-washing aid.

Guest's picture
Guest

Clean your grill with oven cleaner, rinse well.

Guest's picture
Guest

Crumple aluminum foil and use it to clean the grill after it cools. It will scrunch down, smaller and smaller, as you work but it does a good job. If it gets too small and flattened just start with a new piece.

Guest's picture
Guest

HELP!!!!i have egg on my carpet as well as other things i cant get it too come up clean ive try over the counter carpet cleaning solutions as well as a steamer and a bit of elbow grease with no luck please does anyone have any suggestions.

Guest's picture
Luckyparker

I have several tablecloths that belonged to family members. I don't know what the stains are, and regular washing hasn't gotten them out.

Guest's picture
Guest

Do as our Grandmothers did. If the tablecloth is white wash and let dry in the full sun. The sun is a wonderful natural bleach. TIP: item needs to face the sun at all times.

Guest's picture
Guest

Try alkaseltzer, @ 3 tablets to 5 gallons of water, if doesn't work try more denture tablets. Fold your linen (this prevents having to iron it afterwards) then submerse in the solution, let sit until clean and white. Remove, ring out excess water, Lay out a thick absorbant towel, lay linen on towel and roll up tightly to remove reamining water. Your tablecloth/net or lace curtains are ready to use.

Guest's picture
Guest

If table cloth is white...hang wet on line outdoors, and on the stain put lemon juice. Then rub salt into the lemon juice and let dry in the sun. Removes rust very well. I did this with my husbands Navy whites.

Guest's picture
Bessie

I have a lot of beautiful embroidered pillow cases that have become yelloed with perspiration or hair oil would love to get them white again with out damaging the embroidery.
They are heirloom ones done by a 80 yr old so are very precious to me Thanks

Guest's picture

We had a look through and found your comments and posts interesting. A word of caution on peroxide!! We regularly buy 25 kilo of 50% Peroxide and use it at 5%.

***DO NOT STORE PEROXIDE*** in a sealed container as it EXPLODES. We wasted a large amount of money on testing this theory after the PEROXIDE we left in a couple of $35 pump sprayers EXPLODED and flew through the air about 3.5 metres coating everything in sight.

We tested to see the percentage that would not EXPLODE which turned out under .1% is safe for about a week.

For more tips or hints head over to ausis.info for stain removers or message us for help.

Thanks for taking your time to post and time reading the comments.

Guest's picture
Jeanella

Hello, How do you get an iron stain out of a rug? It is a berber rug. My son dropped it on his rug while it was hot.
Thanks, J.Regalado

Guest's picture
Jeanella

Hello, How do you get an iron stain out of a rug? It is a berber rug. My son dropped it on his rug while it was hot.
Thanks, J.Regalado

Guest's picture
Guest

Everyone "says" things will work but I need someone to help me rid myself of hard water stains, lime, just an overall ugly shower stall! I'm to the point of replacing with a less translucent material!!! Love the glass though..............

Guest's picture
Guest

You should try bleach. Follow the dilution instructions on the bleach bottle for cleaning, I think it's 20 to 1. Just use a spray bottle, spray your glass thoroughly, and let it sit for 10 minutes, then spray it off with water. I've gotten rid of some pretty nasty mildew with bleach, I assume it would work with your glass.

Guest's picture
Guest

Try lemon oil it sound crazy but try it on your shower doors. just put a little on a rag (i fold the rag in fours)and rug it lightly on the door, you will be suprised. I think it only works on glass doors

Guest's picture
Guest

I have a very old fiberglass shower that has terrible hard water and lime stains . I use a cleaner called The Works you can get it at most stores . They have one for the shower and one for the toilet. It does a wonderful job like no other . Price is not bad either.

Guest's picture
Guest

Try useing Lemon oil on you hard water stains. fold a rag in fours and spill some lemon oil on the rag then wipe the shower doors down. Or a mister clean magic eraser will work too but you really have to scrub

Guest's picture
Terri

By a six pack of coke! Seriously coke in a spray bottle will clean your surfaces like no other!!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'am not to sure about lime & water stains but as far as soap scum try dryer sheets. I wet the shower down real good then apply warm water to several sheets and wipe ,leave on for a few minuets then rinse off again w/ warm water

Guest's picture
Guest

To the iron stain: have you tried shaving off the burnt part of the rug with a razor? My friends and I did this to a white carpet after scrubbing too hard to get the wine stains out; any disposable razor works, but it does take a lot of time.

For lime build up, the only thing I've ever used that works is CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust) remover. It worked on getting the limescale out of the toilet (without ruining the toilet), and also works on hard water stains. It didin't, however, remove the crusted on soap I found on the glass door at my in-laws; a razor is likely the only thing that would remove it (I even tried a soft pumice stone, which eventually worked, but took 20 minutes for a 2" area).

Here is a another good site for DIY cleaners: http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d001201-d001300/d001243/d001243.html

Guest's picture
Guest

I have tried everything on the store shelf to clean my shower and nothing worked, then at a flea market I seen a demo with this bottle called Shock it clean so I bought one the next mornning I sprayed down my shower with it did a little scrubing and WOW It came clean right before my eyes, now looks like new, I then tried it on my carpet where my kids have spilled food and let me tell you again WOW. I will never buy anything else on the market except Shock it clean and thats the truth.

George in Tennessee

Guest's picture
Vj

I want to know how can I remove yellow stains from white fabric.

Guest's picture
Guest Maggie

My mom is in a nursing home and she loves chocolate. She is 92 and tends to drool, so therefore we have chocolate stains on nearly every shirt she owns. Can I get them out???

Guest's picture
Jan

There is a great product on the market called "simple green". Sometimes you can locate it in the grocery cleaning isle but lately I have found it inthe automotive department. Nowadays they have different types but the original one I found works best. It is DARK green in color. When sprayed on a spot, it takes out even butter and oil stains. I found this out from someone who worked at MacDonalds and used it on their uniform for grease and butter stains. I used it on all of my mothers clothes where stains were old it took out basically evwrything from grease to chocolate it was a clothes saver!! The only material it doesn't work well on was sweater material due to the consistancy of the material. Good luck!!

Guest's picture
Hydeho

How do I get rid out ink on my front seat from an ink cartridge

Guest's picture
Guest

try toothpaste. Put some on a brush and dip it in warm, water. Scrub and rinse well. Toothpaste disolves all kinds of ink including permanent marker. I also use it as a degreaser on my stove hood.

Guest's picture
Mark

What is best to remove spilled cooked meat stains and mechanic grease stain from upholstery in vehicle! Thanks!

Guest's picture

I use citric acid to remove the hard water deposits left around my house. I will put 1 tbls. in with my regular dishwasher soap once a month to keep the dishwasher running well and it helps with glasses too.

It's great on faucets and sinks and it starts to bubble when it comes in contact with the hard water.

A gal at work has a cup from her childhood that was so caked with hard water deposits at the bottom that she was going to throw it away. It has taken several repeat applications, but now the hard water deposits are gone and her cup is usable and pretty again.

I have used it in the toilet too, to remove the hard water stains there.

But a word of caution, although citric acid is a food safe item, please do not think it is safe in concentrated quantity's. It can burn your skin and eyes just like any other acid. Take precautions to protect your skin and eyes when using it.

Guest's picture
Deb

I am going to try this. I have very hard water from the well. The bathroom, kitchen, and washer suffer tremendously. How much do you think I should use to run through my washer?

Guest's picture
Guest

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is also used in dish detergent, for the sudsing. Also, during production it is sometimes mixed with a chemical that is carcinogenic.

Guest's picture
Guest

How do you get an old queso dip stain out of nylon? The stain has been on the coat for a year.

Guest's picture
Linda

I have a white sweater that has hair dye on the sleeves. Do you have any suggestions for getting it out?

Guest's picture
Rose

My grandson decided to wipe vaseline on his shirt (and I mean ALOT)
how can I remove it. ANY IDEAS

Guest's picture
Guest

use mens hand cleaner from the Dollar store.Costs !.00 and can use on all laundry .

Guest's picture
Guest

Rub Baby Powder on the oily stain. Then launder.

Guest's picture
Corinna

I spilt red candle wax on my light colored pants and I ironed it to remove as much wax as I could. I then tried to get it out with backing soda and had no luck. Does anyone have any home remidies to get this stain out?

Guest's picture
Corinna

Okay I tried everything to get this red wax stain of my light colored clothing. Bakingsoda,shaving cream(that got apsolute nothing out not even a ink stain I had on this)not even bleach would get this out enless you want a hole there instead. I was quite suprised bleach didnt work cause its a fresh stain in never even went through the dryer. So the stain wins. I am know dying it the color of the stain. Wish me luck on that! I just love this out fit. Well, now I would really like suggestions on how to get colored(RED)candle wax out,god forbid it happens ever again,lol!

Guest's picture
Guest

My friends kid spilt bubble solution in the back seat of my car, I did not notice it until it was completely dry and stuck like glue. It is the bubbles that last 10sec and then you pop them. any idea on how to get it out of dark grey fabric. It is sooo thick you can tap the seat and its hard. please help as I am selling the car and this is not a very good selling point.
thanks

Guest's picture
Karla

My mom taught me a trick that works wonderful. Take your metal grill grates and put them in a plastic garbage bag with enough amonia so it will soak (do not fill the bag as the fumes will work too). Tie the garbage bag shut and leave outside in the backyard in the sun. After a few days all the grease etc will be eaten off the metal.*****Please do not leave where small children or animals can get into******Now to get the shiny surface back, take something deep enough to totally soak your grill plates in. Fill with cooking oil so the grates are totally covered. Let soak a day or two. Use mild steel wool to scrub the rust off the grates. Put the grates back on the grill, burn off the oil on hight for 5 - 10 minutes. Your grates will be like brand new......No more throwing away grills because the grates are rusty. If by chance this does not work....your grill grates are a cheap metal and not stainless steel.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have tried Hydrogen Peroxide alone as a teeth whitener and I must contest that it does work, although it can make your gums more sensitive. This is because they hydrogen peroxide sold in stores is for topical use only. It is best to go to a health store, by the 30% solution and dilute it down, this will stop the sensitivity and not only whiten your teeth, but also get rid of bacteria and gingivitis that may be in your mouth. In fact, it is a great thing to have in your house. It is kind of like a one-stop-cure for a lot of things that you may not even be aware of. Check out this website for more information: http://scienceray.com/chemistry/the-wonders-of-hydrogen-peroxide/ 

Guest's picture

the teeth whitening thing wrecked my teeth :/

my teeth are highly sensitive now and bleed every so often

Guest's picture
Chad

In the United States, a glass of wine cost more than stain stick remover.

Guest's picture
Boatmans

If your dog pees on a carpet sponge with tonic water. It deodorises and cleans in one go. neverfails.

Guest's picture
KateJ

Wish I knew this earlier! Just hired http://www.hartscarpetcleaning.com to come take care of all my embarrassing carpet stains for me. Oh well, at least it's less work for me!

Guest's picture
kort

I wash my face every day with baking soda. It has gotten rid of my acne scarring.

Guest's picture
Joy

I just tried the Alkaseltzer on my grill rack and I must say I'm impressed. I think it would've worked a lot better if I could have used less water, but with the aid of my wire grill brush I can see Chrome again and I haven't seen that since the 4 other times I cleaned it before with just a wire brush and an S.O.S. pad. i used the Alkaseltzer gold since it didn't contain aspirin and it had better ingredients that seemed like it would get the rack cleaner.

Guest's picture
Icarus

I found a jello stain caused by my little brother that was a couple of weeks old. We do not own the house so I REALLY needed to get it out. We tried everything we could find, including products such as resolve. Finally, I tried nail polish remover because it was the dye from the jello that was left on the carpet, not the jello itself. I tested first on carpet in a closet and nothing bad happened. I than put it on the stain and left it for a few hours with a paper towel over that had a jug of water holding there. I came back and checked on it and the red was coming out of the carpet! The stain is now completely gone!

Guest's picture
Dr. Lucy

I do not know the beautiful young lady demonstrating the baking soda to
clear up acne in the video but I would like to communicate to her that scrubbing
your face like it is a rusted iron skillet is not the preferred method of cleaning your face.

Gentle gentle gentle. Every rub and tug today will be crow's feet and
deep wrinkles tomorrow.

If you will wear sunscreen no matter your age every day every time you go out, and
clean your face gently as if you were cleaning the face of a newborn kitten your beauty will last all your life.

I have women in their 80's and 90's who look younger than a 70 year old with a face lift simply because (unlike the rest of us) they did not take Coco Chanel's advice about tanning as if it were from the Bible, and because they have always been gentle with their face, many eschewing any use of soap. Many who have used nothing but Ponds or Olay!!

Guest's picture
Joy

I would say that organic face care is best. Active charcoal can do wonders in clearing up skin as well. If your going to use a scrub it's best to only use it 2 times a week.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hey - commenting on carpet stains removal- If I do not have an iron.. can use a hair dryer instead

Guest's picture
maxie

• Baking soda: a natural scourer and odour remover
• Lemon/lemon juice: a natural degreaser and lightener for stains
• Vinegar: another good degreaser

This is my recipe of removing stains from carpet, window cleaning and household products.

Guest's picture
Guest

Lovely article! There's also hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and Dawn original dish detergent. This girl on YT shows you how to use it. She even has her laundry there to show you lol. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUwdv4QEhTY