Eco-Friendly Stain Fighters

Coming clean is easy when what you need is already on your shelves. Linda Mason Hunter, cofounder of, offers eco-friendly, homemade solutions.


Stain Masters

Smart tactics to clean by:

  • Treat stain as soon as you can, ideally within an hour, to prevent it from becoming a permanent mark.
  • Test stain remover on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first to make sure the color won't be affected.
  • Avoid rubbing or scrubbing, which may set the stain or fray the fibers.
  • Keep a white towel on hand that's designated for using on stains.
  • Seek help from your dry cleaner for stains on silk, suede, and leather.
  • Read the care label on your garment before attempting to treat a stain.

Pull these stain removers right from your shelves:

  • Baking soda
  • Club soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Borax
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Talcum powder
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Liquid laundry detergent


Clothing & Linens: Flush the area with rubbing alcohol, then rinse with water. Apply liquid dish soap and rinse.

Upholstery & Carpet: Dab liquid laundry detergent directly on spot and let it sit for two hours. Remove detergent with a damp towel.

Red Wine

Clothing & Linens: Gently dab stain with a white towel soaked in club soda, saturating the area. Launder as usual.

Upholstery & Carpet: Apply club soda, towel dry, then treat with a natural carpet cleaner. For furniture, sponge with warm water, cover spot with talcum powder and let sit for several minutes. Gently brush with a soft cloth.

Fruit Juice

Clothing & Linens: Pour boiling water on stain (use warm water for delicate fabrics).

Upholstery & Carpet: Gently blot with one part liquid detergent and two parts warm water. Next, apply a one-to-one mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Dab again with detergent and water; sponge clean with cold water.

Pet Pee

Clothing & Linens: Soak in a solution of distilled white vinegar and hot water (cold water for delicate fabric) for 30 minutes. Rinse garment, then launder.

Upholstery & Carpet: Use paper towels to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. With a sponge, apply a solution of 1/4 vinegar, several drops of eucalyptus oil, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Let stand for 30 minutes, then blot using a damp towel.


Clothing & Linens: Soak fabric in cold water. If stain remains, dab with detergent.

Upholstery & Carpet: Let chocolate harden, then scrape off excess with a dull knife. Blot with one part liquid laundry detergent and two parts tepid water.


Clothing & Linens: Place a white towel underneath the garment to absorb excess ink. Saturate stain with rubbing alcohol, then rinse thoroughly with tepid water.

Upholstery & Carpet: Blot excess ink with a paper towel. Apply rubbing alcohol; dab until gone.


Clothing & Linens: Rinse with cold water, then soak garment in a detergent and cold water solution. If stain remains, pour on distilled white vinegar to saturate stain.

Upholstery & Carpet: Mix together borax and water until you have a thick paste. Place directly on the spot and let sit for a half hour. Remove paste with a damp towel.

Cooking Oil

Clothing & Linens: Remove excess grease with paper towel. Sprinkle with talcum powder to absorb remaining grease and treat with a stain remover.

Upholstery & Carpet: Apply liquid laundry detergent and let stand for a few hours. Scrub clean with a small brush. Wipe away residue with a damp white towel.


Clothing & Linens: Place stain face down on a white towel and soak with rubbing alcohol. Blot on clean area of towel until no lipstick appears on the towel. Launder.

Upholstery & Carpet: Wet with rubbing alcohol, then blot with a white towel until no lipstick remains.


Clothing & Linens: Rinse with warm water, then soak garment in a one-to-one solution of borax and hot water. Continue to treat with the solution until the stain is gone.

Upholstery & Carpet: Soak up with paper towels, then spray with a one-to-three mixture of water and white vinegar. Blot with one part dish soap and two parts tepid water, then rinse.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the April 17, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.