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How to Make Homemade Stain Removers for Clothes

Updated on May 14, 2012

What is your main reason for wanting to make homemade stain removers?

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Learning how to make homemade stain removers for clothes is easy and the removers work just as well as store-bought brands. Here are some of the reasons people choose to make stain removers for clothes at home:

  • Less expensive than store-bought removers
  • Less chemicals being put into clothing
  • Allergies
  • Helpful to the environment (less plastic bottles, less pollution from factories and delivery trucks)
  • more versatile; same ingredients can be used to make spray type stain removers or removers that rub into clothing

If you choose to start making your own stain removers at home the initial cost for all the ingredients and containers may seem expensive. One thing to keep in mind is that you will be making a large quantity that will last for months. The main reason I started making my own laundry detergent, stain removers, and household cleaners was to save money. I was couponing and buying on sale, but in the long run making the cleaners and stain removers myself was much cheaper and less time consuming.

What Ingredients and Supplies do You Need to Make Your Own Stain Removers?

Ingredients :

Total cost for all these items will be under $20 even if you buy the large size of each

  • Fels-naptha soap or other gentle bar soap (Ivory or Dove or homemade bar soap*)
  • White vinegar
  • Borax
  • Mild Dish liquid

Materials:

Total cost for these items will vary, but it should be between $20 and $30

  • Toothbrush
  • Spray bottle
  • Medium-sized Mason jar
  • Reusable container with lid

*If you are concerned about chemicals it may be best to use a bar soap you like. Although Fels-naptha is very inexpensive and works well, the ingredients are not clearly marked on the packaging so if you have sensitive skin you may have issues using it. I have always been sensitive to soaps and laundry detergents and I did not have a reaction to the Fels-naptha. However, everyone is different so it may be best to buy one bar and try it before making a large quantity of laundry detergent or stain remover.

Before and After

BEFORE-Muddy Jeans
BEFORE-Muddy Jeans | Source
AFTER- Clean Jeans (Fels-Naptha was used on jean pockets and spray version was used on legs. The jeans sat for two days before they were washed).
AFTER- Clean Jeans (Fels-Naptha was used on jean pockets and spray version was used on legs. The jeans sat for two days before they were washed). | Source

Making and Using Your Homemade Stain Remover for Clothes

Depending on the fabric or how busy your lifestyle is, you may prefer a stain remover that you rub into clothing or you may want one that sprays. One thing to keep in mind with homemade or store-bought stain removers is that the faster you treat the stain and the faster you wash the item, the more likely you are to get the stain out. That being said, I have found that using Fels-Naptha without any other products works very well. I wet a toothbrush and then rub it into the bar of Fels-Naptha and then rub the toothbrush into the stain and keep repeating. However, there are days when I am very busy and don't have time to do that, so I use the spray version of my homemade stain remover. Since both my children play soccer, I am usually battling grass stains and mud. However, these stain removers work on a variety of food stains as well as ink and blood.

It is a good idea to have a stain fighting area in your laundry room. Keep a bar of Fels-Naptha in an airtight container and a toothbrush nearby. Also have a spray bottle with plain water. Anytime you need to battle a stain you can go to this area and wet the bar of soap with your water bottle and then use the toothbrush to work the soap throughout the stain. The other item you should have in your stain fighting area is pre-made stain remover in a spray bottle. Here is how to make the spray version:

  1. Fill the spray bottle you are going to use about halfway with warm water.
  2. Add vinegar to make the bottle about 3/4 full.
  3. Add a little dish soap and some borax. About a teaspoon since you don't want the mixture to be super soapy.
  4. Shake the bottle vigorously for about a minute and I shake it again every time you use it.
  5. LABEL THE SPRAY BOTTLE!!!!!

This mixture works well on most fabrics. I have found that my moisture-wicking running shirt gets muddy sometimes when I run and the spray remover does not work as well as the toothbrush method. You can also take some of the spray mixture and keep it in a Mason jar. From the Mason jar you can use the toothbrush or a rag to rub it into the stain. Or, you can pour a little stain remover from the jar onto your clothes and then rub the fabric together. The video below shows different ways to use the stain removers.

Using Homemade Stain Removers for Delicate Clothes

Below are before and after pictures of a muddy running shirt that is made from moisture-wicking fabric. The lighting is off on the after picture so it looks like the shirt faded but it did not. It is always a good idea to wash your clothes in the washing machine and check the stain area again before putting them in the dryer or hanging them dry. Some stains need to have stain removers applied twice. For this running shirt I had to apply stain remover, wash, apply more stain remover, and wash again. It was completely stain free after the second washing.

Muddy running shirt made from moisture-wicking material.
Muddy running shirt made from moisture-wicking material. | Source
Homemade stain remover in spray bottle.
Homemade stain remover in spray bottle. | Source
After being treated with stain remover and washed in a high-efficiency washing machine.
After being treated with stain remover and washed in a high-efficiency washing machine. | Source

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    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      There are recipes online but nothing out there really shows you what works and how it works, so I hope the videos and pictures help. Thanks for visiting my hub!

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image

      LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Helpful and useful ideas for all. Voted up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great hub! I'll have to try making some homemade stain remover to use. Voted up and useful! :)

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      We just spray all our stains with kitchen de-grease cleaner spray and everything comes out so well. It's cheap, it's probably a bit chemical, but it's a quick all-rounder. I squeeze lemon on my stained white clothes and put them in the sun a few hours. That works too.

      It is so important to find ways to save on products.

      Really liked your Hub.

      Living in Italy means we don't have the same products.

      Really well done.

    • profile image

      Jane 5 years ago

      Hi Chrissie,

      Never thought to try Fels-Naptha for cleaning spots. I sometime

      use a toothbrush and dish detergent to clean spots. You have some

      really good ideas. Another good use for Fels-Naptha is when you

      think you have been exposed to poison ivy you wash your arms

      and hands good with Fels-Naptha. If you do get poison ivy rug some

      Fels-Naptha on the poison and let dry It helps to dry up the poison.

      Keep your ideas coming.

      Grammie Jane

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      That is an awesome idea for poison ivy, since we have so much of it around our house, my kids get it every year! Fels-Naptha is definitely cheaper than other poison ivy products.

    • Recently Awakened profile image

      Recently Awakened 5 years ago

      This is so cool. How do you guys come up with these things? I am always looking to save money so I think I will try it myself! Voting up!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Recently Awakened- glad you enjoyed the ideas. I have a few key ingredients I keep around the house and have been able to combine them to create inexpensive and healthy cleaners for my family. You will definitely save a lot of money and it doesn't take long to make your own stuff!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Recently Awakened- glad you enjoyed the ideas. I have a few key ingredients I keep around the house and have been able to combine them to create inexpensive and healthy cleaners for my family. You will definitely save a lot of money and it doesn't take long to make your own stuff!

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