Stephanie's note: Have you begun to notice a theme here this month? We're talking about laundry strategies, hence the posts on stain removal, one of the biggest questions that I get in regards to natural laundry care. Find charts for successful stain removal, and the trick that saves my sanity and my kid's clothes. Coming up are cloth diapering tips, a tour of our Family Closet and a mom's laundry detergent consumer panel in September!
Written by Beth Corcoran, Contributing Writer
Stains are a big deal at our house. It seems that my kids are stain magnets. I know that just about everyone would say that their kids do their fair share of staining clothing. But my kids have a penchant for attracting stains of the gross and unusual kind—you know, the kind that no one really knows how to get out.
A while back, when we started fostering kids, I decided to go through my clothing storage and pull out the baby clothes just in case we got a small foster child. Much to my dismay, most of the baby clothes had yellowed and had huge brown spots on them. I was so sure that they didn’t look that horrible when I put them away! But time and heat (they had been in the garage last summer as we moved) had set in previously mild spit up and food stains.
I was determined to find a non toxic way to get those set in stains out of those cute baby clothes, which is a daunting task, because, let’s face it, even the toxic cleaners don’t really get set in stains out.
Then this past winter, we entered a time of a few months when the air was really dry. My children started getting nosebleeds. And about 99% of the time, of course, it would happen in the middle of the night while they were sleeping and no one would know the better until the next morning when the blood was dried all over the sheets.
This summer I have faced yet more frustrating stains. During the summer, we keep white sheets and a white quilt on our bed. All in the same day, my muddy dog decided to come inside and hop up on my bed, leaving the red Oklahoma clay mud stains all over my nice quilt; and my 3 year old daughter proved that she could open child proof caps by spilling a whole bottle of grape cough syrup all over my sheets. What is a mom to do?!
It seems that there are several good options for getting fresh stains out of clothes, and many of those have been highlighted on this website. But after much experimenting, I have found a very easy solution to getting really tough set in stains out of fabrics—powdered oxygen bleach.
I have found oxygen bleach to be highly effective in getting awful stains out of just about everything. Here's how I use it:
- I simply fill a large tub (think trash can size) with hot water. I know hot water is contrary to everything you have heard about getting stains out of clothes. However, it helps the bleach dissolve better and thus, work better.
- Then I stir in the appropriate amount of powdered oxygen bleach.
- After that, I simply add in whatever clothes or bed linens need to be soaked. At that point, I leave it alone for up to a whole day.
- I will periodically check to see if the stains are fading.
- Once they appear to be gone, I then throw the soaked items into the washer to be cleaned as normal.
Photo credit: edwebproject
Is Oxygen Bleach Safe to Use?
There are many options out there for oxygen bleach. When shopping for a good product, you will want to find one that doesn’t have any fillers. Many of the more popular brands don’t work as well as they could because they are full of fillers.
If you are like me, you may be wondering what exactly oxygen bleach is and how it works. I was hesitant for quite some time to use it because when I hear the word “bleach,” I automatically think about chlorine bleach. But rest assured that oxygen bleach is a very different cleaner.
Oxygen bleach is made of two natural chemicals, sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate, and it is completely biodegradable. It doesn’t have any strong odor and, while I wouldn’t recommend soaking your skin in it, it is fine for normal contact with skin. It can be used to break down set in stains or fresh stains, and it can be used on organic and inorganic stains.
The one drawback to using oxygen bleach over using a commercial spray is that it takes time to work—sometimes it takes a lot of time. My muddy white quilt had to be soaked twice, each time for a whole day, before it came clean. But the good news is that on most kinds of fabric, the stains should come out completely.
So if you have a houseful of little stain magnet children, or even a naughty muddy dog or two that like to jump onto your bed, I highly recommend trying oxygen bleach. As you can imagine, oxygen bleach is definitely this mom’s favorite go-to product in my laundry room!
Ok, mamas, how do you get out set in stains? Share your secrets!
Photo credit: chiots run
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