It's amazing how frantic we get around stains. Down goes a little Shiraz or salsa and the party stops. Suddenly, everyone thinks they're an expert and starts yelling out random tips on how to get the giant splotch off your favourite top.
That's if you catch it quickly. Even worse are those mystery stains that you only notice when you do your laundry a week after you wore the damn thing. And if you‚re as klutzy as I am, you wonder how you can make oil stains fashionable, since they're on nearly everything you own.
Stay away from oh-so-handy disposable stain-removing laundry wipes and pens. The world doesn't need the extra trash. And do you really need to waste power and batteries on an ultrasonic vibrating stain-removing machine that comes with throwaway pads and chem-based cleaners?
Also, just because it's a do-it-yourself solution doesn‚t automatically make it earth-friendly. My god, Martha Stewart's website recommends pouring lighter fluid on mustard and grass stains! What's the point when there are perfectly natural, ecologically sound solutions to it all?
This week we decided to look at some of the non-toxic ways to oust that damn spot (namely tomato sauce, red wine, mud and oil). We used the green products to pre-treat fresh messes then washed them all in the same eco detergent to make it fair. We also tested our stain removers against DIY techniques like soda water and salt to see how they compare.
Nature Clean Stain Remover
Sloppy eaters will be pleased to see how well this one tackled garlic spaghetti sauce and wine. But while olive oil splatter is mostly gone, it's not out.
Ecover Stain Remover
Love the built-in scrubber on this bottle. Really wiped out spaghetti sauce and oil. Not quite as good as Safe Bleach powder or Nature Clean stick on wine, but good effort.
Soap Works Safe Bleach
High-five on the Merlot stain. Almost gave this washing-soda-and-hydrogen-peroxide-based powder 3 Ns, but it left a big oil ring and tomato-stain shadow. (Straight vinegar worked just about as well on the tomato stain.)
Nature Clean Liquid Bleach
This hydrogen-peroxide-based bleach is super-cheap, but the label says to use a quarter-jug for each load! Only soda water and salt did as poorly on tomato sauce. Plain boiling water was worse.
Simply Clean Stain Bar
Move over, Mr. Clean - this is the real Magic Eraser. As good as chemy Spray 'n Wash at least. Both left very faint residues of oil and wine, but bar is still the clear winner of the bunch. A steal at $1.50. Vegan alert: contains tallow.
Oxygen Bleach Powder
Winos will be happy with this one for its good performance on the cheap Ontario vino. However, its abysmal showing on the tomato and oil lowers its score.
*Note on homemade concoctions: Lemon juice and sun drying did fade week-old wine and eliminated tomato stains but created its own lemon yellow blotches instead. We had less luck trying to get cornstarch to lift oil. And we don't know what people are talking about when they rave about soda water, salt or boiling water on fruit stains. Our samples looked like brightly painted kindergarten art when we were done.
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