Stain removal is never an easy task. Many times we mistakenly use a product that we are told is the END-ALL in fabric care, only to find that the stain has remained. Far too often an unpleasant odor accompanies the stain and this may stick around for far too long as well. I'm here to tell you that there is relief in sight. Here are the three things you should ALWAYS have on hand to remove any stain.
Hydrogen Peroxide is so useful for removing any organic stain. By organic I mean blood, urine, fecal matter, and vomit, among others. Keep it in a spray bottle next to your washer for easy application. To treat the stain, first remove the solid matter and rinse as much excess away as possible with TEPID, not cold or hot water. Next, place a folded towel between layers of fabric so that the stain does not bleed through. Then spritz the peroxide on the stain and allow to sit for about twenty minutes. Rinse with tepid water and repeat if necessary. Be sure to test for colorfastness first to make sure that the color is not bleached out. You can dilute the peroxide with water, but it will not be as potent.
When I first married my husband, I discovered that men are smelly and the sheets they sleep on are just as smelly. My mother told me how to solve this problem. Wash your sheets in shampoo and warm water. Shampoo is designed to break down and remove the body oils. My favorite is the Whole Foods 365 Unscented Shampoo, which has a low-sudsing formula that makes it perfect for HE washers. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda for extra odor removal.
Grease, grease, grease. This is probably the most common stain in our households from kitchen grease, to motor oil, to makeup and hair products. Laundry detergent just doesn't always completely remove these stains. That is why the final product that is always in my laundry room is dish detergent. For heavily soiled laundry like my kitchen wipes and rags, I pre-soak them in warm--not hot--water and about 2 tablespoons of dish detergent. Run a regular wash with another two tablespoons of dish detergent and two tablespoons of baking soda. If you have a single item that is stained with grease, place a folded towel between the layers of fabric and pour a couple of drops of the dish detergent on the stain and let sit for about 30 minutes. Do NOT let the pre-treat dry because you can end up with a bigger problem than you started out with. Try Seventh Generation dish detergent, which is also low-sudsing so it is great for HE washers.
Finally, here is a bonus tip: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be without baking soda in the laundry room. Add a quarter of a cup to every load. If you follow my recipe for laundry detergent, you will already have the baking soda in every wash.
Good luck and healthy living!