All-natural solutions for removing stains

Don't despair when you've got seemingly impossible-to-remove stains on your home surfaces — these remedies provide quick, easy and affordable ways to fight them.

All-natural solutions for removing stains

Traditional cleaners

Synthetic cleaning products abound in supermarkets today — some with hefty price tags. Many were actually created based on the properties of existing natural cleaning products, all of which can help keep your home clean and sanitized.

Most of the cleaning materials mentioned can be bought at the local drugstore or supermarket, and you can easily mix up the solutions yourself. The caveat: wear gloves and a face mask when working with ammonia, talc or turpentine products.

Avoid swallowing, breathing or absorbing these products through your skin, and store your homemade cleaning materials out of reach of the kids (just as you would the store-bought products). It is always a good idea to check their shelf life regularly.

Vinegar

The substance — made by fermenting ethanol — has been used for seasoning food since earliest times. In fact, traces of it have been found in 3,000-year-old Egyptian urns. But vinegar doesn't just liven up your salad; it's a great natural cleaning product, as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer.

To make an all-purpose cleaner for tables, countertops, tubs and tiles simply mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, or pour the substance directly into the toilet bowl to remove discolouration. Just be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area before use. Vinegar should never be used on marble and, when improperly diluted, it may eat away at tile grout. But for the most part, vinegar is effective, easily accessible and cheap!

Turpentine

Turpentine, also known as spirit of turpentine or wood turpentine, is a mixture of resin and essential oil from various species of pine. Turpentine oil, produced by distilling turpentine, is particularly effective for dissolving grease. The colourless-to-yellowish fluid has numerous applications in your home, e.g., as a floor polish, shoe polish or an effective solvent for stain removal.

Don't dispose of turpentine products by pouring them down the drain — it's not good for the environment or your pipes. Check with your local authorities for proper disposal methods before you throw it away.

Ammonia

Ammonia, or ammonium chloride, is the ammonium salt of hydrochloric acid and a crystalline solid. It has been used in everything from fertilizer to rocket fuel. That may make it sound like a dangerous chemical, but in fact, ammonia has been used as a household cleaner for a long time.

Commercially, it's most commonly found as the watery solution ammonia (ammonium hydroxide). Use liquid ammonia at home for stain removal or when cleaning stainless steel, glass and porcelain — it leaves a streak-free shine. It is also used to combat mold and pests.

Talc

Also known as magnesium silicate hydrate, talc is the softest mineral. It feels soapy, which accounts for its alternate name: soapstone. As a finely ground filler, talc is used in the paper, cellulose, paint and varnish industries, and in the production of rubber, plastics and ceramics. It is also used in the pharmaceuticals industry and in food production.

In its ground-up form (talcum powder) it is used as a body powder or makeup base. In the home, it makes for a gentle scrubbing agent and can be used to treat rubber seals or to silence squeaky wooden floorboards and stairs. Don't breathe in talcum powder or you risk causing serious inflammation in your breathing passages.

Recipe: universal stain removal

What you need:

  • 250 ml (1 c) rubbing alcohol
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 oz) ammonia
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) naphtha

    Mix the ingredients together in a sealable bottle. Keep out of the reach of children.

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