I'm not sure about you, but the topic of stain removal never enters my consciousness unless there is a crisis at hand. Let's say, nasty red wine spillage, in which case, I typically default to what I learned growing up (use salt). When we were recently discussing the topic at work, we realized we had a wealth of solutions among us. Here are our top 10 cleaning tips—most of which involve little more than vinegar, lemons, and baking soda:
Photography by Sarah Lonsdale.
- 1. Stacey uses Tom's of Maine to shine her silver but any milder toothpaste will also work.
- 2. Christine on stainless steel: "When I was a waitress, we used to clean stainless steel surfaces with seltzer water from the soda fountain, and it worked like a dream."
- 3. Stacey on mildewy dish brushes and sponges: "I wash mine weekly in boiling water with a few drops of oil of oregano to keep them fresh."
- 4. Alexa on tackling grout in the bathroom: "I mix baking soda and vinegar to create a paste for cleaning bathroom grout."
Above: The acid in lemons makes it an ideal cleaning agent.
- 5. Sarah on tarnished copper: "I clean my copper with lemon and salt. Cut the lemon into wedges, dip in salt, then rub on the copper. Rinse quickly in cold water and dry well with a soft cloth."
- 6. Sarah on yellowed clothing: "I have a couple of white cotton shirts from Japan that I have had forever. They have worn well but started to yellow on the collar. I dabbed them with lemon juice, then let them sit in the sun to bleach. The yellow disappeared."
- 7. Christine on removing red wine stains: "Pour salt on a wet red wine stain in the carpet, then leave it overnight before vacuuming it up."
- 8. Meredith on removing spots from stainless flatware: "Rub olive oil on with a soft cloth, then wipe off with a soft cloth dampened with white vinegar."
Above: Distilled white vinegar; I buy it by the gallon, and although it's a little obsessive-compulsive I decant it into a glass bottle.
- 9. Janet uses vinegar as her secret laundry weapon. "Years ago, a friend in the garment industry told me to wash new clothes with a half cup of white vinegar to 'set' dark colors."
- 10. Janet on mildewy laundry: "Ever left wet laundry in the machine for a day or so by accident? Rewash the load with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar, which will combat the mildew smell."
- 11. Sarah on water-spotted glassware: "Every now and again, when my drinking glasses are looking dull or water spotted, I'll add some white distilled vinegar to the rinse aid cycle of the dishwasher and the glasses are restored to their original shininess."
Read our tips on Banishing Kitchen Odors.
Got any brilliant tips for combating stains? We'd love to add them to the list. Let us know in the comment box below.
See more: Domestic Science.