On clothing: Contrary to the bulk of this stain removal advice, don’t get liquid detergent anywhere near a fruit juice stain because it will set it. Instead, use white vinegar to blot the stain, then rinse with cool water. If the stain persists, try an enzyme-based stain removed (unless your fabric is silk or wool) and let it dry for 30 minutes, then rinse. Wash normally.

On carpet and couches: Follow the above instructions, but spray the stain with a bit of warm water, trying to keep the water used to the absolute minimum needed to cover the stain.

STAIN CULPRIT: GRASS & MUD

On clothing: Once you’ve scraped off what is dry, soak the stained item in cold water and normal laundry detergent before you launder. If you need something more powerful, saturate the stain in 1:1 water and vinegar and let sit for five minutes. Pretreat with enzymatic stain removal before laundering regularly.

On carpet and couches: Vacuum the stain using the suction tool. Don’t run the upright vacuum over the stain, or it will extend the stain to more of your carpet! Dampen a paper towel or white cloth with cold water and gently blot the grass stain without rubbing or scrubbing. Once you aren’t lifting any more grass stain out of the carpet, get a clean towel, and blot the stain with a mix of mild dish soap with lukewarm water. If that doesn’t work, move on to rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.

STAIN CULPRIT: BLOOD

On clothing: Soak in cold water. If this doesn’t do the trick, apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain. You can also use dishwashing detergent for colored fabrics.

On carpet and couches: Add a tablespoon of dish detergent to two cups of cold water and blot out the blood with it until it’s gone. Carpet cleaner intended for pet stains may also work well.

STAIN CULPRIT: SWEAT & PERSPIRATION

On clothing: Ohhhh, sweat stains. Lemon, salt and sun work magic. Scrub with a mixture of lemon juice and water and let dry in the sun. You can also try scrubbing with salted water before soaking in the sun. If the stain persists, soak in hydrogen peroxide and water for one hour, then launder as you normally would. This is one where an SPC bleach alternative (safe for all colors) will come in handy. More on that in the products section below.

On carpet and couches: We hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, blot 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water. Sprinkle the furniture or carpet with baking soda and let it sit for 30 minutes. When you dab the stain with the vinegar mix, it’ll bubble up. Blot with a dry towel and repeat if necessary.

STAIN CULPRIT: DEODORANT

On clothing and furniture: Use a dryer sheet to wipe away those embarrassing white lines. Also, rubbing denim on deodorant stripes reportedly works wonders.

STAIN CULPRIT: LIPSTICK & PEN INK

On clothing: If possible, put a paper towel under the stained area and blot with rubbing alcohol and/or nail polish remover to loosen up the stain. Let it sit in the alcohol for at least an hour and then launder normally.

On carpet and couches: The method is similar, but you can actually spray the alcohol directly on to the stain in the form of hairspray. Let it soak into the upholstery for about five minutes. Blot the upholstery with a clean, dry cloth.

STAIN CULPRIT: OTHER MAKEUP

On clothing: If you see a blob of foundation on the fabric, don’t rub! Use a dull table knife or a credit card to remove the liquid from the fabric, and use a sticky lint roller to lift away any powder. Remember that rubbing will only push the product deeper into the fibers of the fabric. Try spot treating with gentle dish soap first. If that doesn’t work, treat with Shout or another stain remover, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before washing as hot as the piece can handle.

On carpet and couches: Same as clothing, but you’ll need to blot, not soak. Use a vacuum if necessary!

STAIN CULPRIT: PET STAINS AND ODORS

On clothing: It’s just NOT your day! Quickly run the wrong side of the stain under cold water for a while. Then throw it into the washing machine at the hottest water temperature for the fabric with a heavy-duty detergent like Persil. Add one cup of white distilled vinegar to the wash water to help reduce odor.

On carpet and couches: Don’t wet it! Scrape up any excess. Grab a cloth or paper towel and press down to get out any soaked-in urine. After you’re finished, leave another cloth or layer of paper towels to soak up more. Then, treat with an enzymatic stain remover. Rocco & Roxie and Nature’s Miracle are two great options that can also be used to clean mud, dirt and grass from your fabrics. You can also home-make a solution of 1:1 vinegar and cool water and spray it once. Get the area soaked (with JUST enough liquid) and let it dry. If you can, move the stained item to the sun to help zap the odor!

SB TIP: For protein-based stains, you always want to start with COLD water because hot water can literally cook the stains like you cook an egg!

RELATED: Why You Should Be Using Clean Beauty Products

LET’S TALK PRODUCTS

Okay, so we have covered the effectiveness of Dawn Dishwashing Soap, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and other natural household products. But here are a few more stain-fighting products that you should know about.

FOLEX — When we asked the community about stain removal tips, Folex was far and away the most buzzed-about product. This non-ionic, non-solvent cleaner is safe on literally any fabric that cannot be damaged by water AND is colorfast. Folex is non-toxic, non-irritating, requires no ventilation, will not break down the stain-resistant layer applied by the furniture people and does not break down into dangerous byproducts. This is a winner!

Fels-Naptha — Since 1894, this powerful laundry bar has been working magic on some of our toughest stains. Rub any greasy, oily stain with a wet bar of Fels-Naptha and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wash your item as you normally would, and the stains should be gone for good. This is a classic product that many swear by.

Clorox — No! Don’t use conventional chlorine bleach on your clothes if you can help it. Not to clean and not to whiten. Classic chlorine bleach can be harmful to the body (if ingested, but also if touched for too long), and it also breaks down the optical fibers that manufacturers use to brighten your white clothes. Let’s call this one an absolute last resort for white linens.

SPC (Bleach alternative) — What’s a better alternative to bleach? Say it with me now: SPC (Sodium percarbonate). SPC is the jack of all stain-fighting trades. It’s what you find in OxiClean, but OxiClean has lots of fillers. Buy something like The Laundress bleach alternative, which is 100% SPC, chlorine-free oxygen bleach that has no artificial dyes and is color-safe. This can be used with hot water to lift tons of different stains, or add a little to your laundry to brighten colors.

Stain Solution — Another product by The Laundress (can you tell that we love these yet!?), this powerful and highly concentrated solution attacks protein and tannin stains like wine, coffee, ink, grass, urine and blood. It can also help pit stains and other old, set-in stains. It’s all non-toxic ingredients and safe for all washable fabrics. Grab it here.

The Pit Kit from The Laundress for stain removal

To save $6.50, The Pit Kit bundles The Laundress’ bleach alternative, stain solution and signature detergent. It’s on the pricer side, but you may never see a stain again. Image: The Laundress

Enzyme detergent — Once you’ve treated your stain and you’re ready to wash, choose a laundry detergent with enzymes. We love the Persil brand because it contains enzymes that help break down fats, oils and protein chains, making it the perfect option to fight stains. If you aren’t sure whether or not your detergent contains enzymes, check the label.

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds —  When stains don’t respond to the methods above, use a stronger product that still has natural ingredients. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds is a fabulous all-purpose, environmentally-minded cleaner. It can be used directly on really tough stains in a pinch or combined with water for a DIY stain spray.

To wrap things up, we turn back to Candace: “Life is all about experimentation,” she says. “Cleaning is a very important component of a healthy life, from our bodies to the dishes we use.”

We invite you to try the methods above, but always check your labels and run a quick search for your specific malady. “Some stains are here to stay,” Candace concludes. “I say get inspired by the new blob on that shirt and add some embroidery or a pin [to cover it]. It’s life. Don’t beat yourself up. Stuff happens.”

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