Dear Frugal Upstate,
I’ve been using and love your Homemade Laundry Soap, but it’s got me wondering. . . do you have a frugal homemade laundry stain remover? My kids (and frankly my husband) are hard on clothes.
Well Alice, here are a few inexpensive options you can use to deal with stains. Remember, I am not a fabric or stain expert, and you have to use any method at your own risk:
1. Use Fels Naptha, Octagon or another “Laundry” bar soap as a stain pretreatment.
Many people will just take a bar of a true laundry soap such as Fels Naptha, wet it and rub it into the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes then toss it in the laundry as usual.
2. Pretreat with Tide (or another product you feel really works well).
At one of the conferences I attended I had a really long, really interesting talk with one of the gentleman from a large name brand detergent company you would recognize. I found it very interesting that he said yes, Tide really does get out the tough stains. . . but that most other detergents (like the brand he represented) worked just as well for normal laundry dirt.
My takeaway? For 90% of the jobs the inexpensive stuff (or homemade!) is fine, but if you’ve got a really really tough stain you might want to try the good stuff. So maybe, in the long run, it’s worth it to buy something like Tide, but to keep it ONLY as a stain pretreater-just rub a little bit of the liquid into the stain and give it time to work, then use the homemade detergent for the entire load.
3. Use a Homemade Stain Soak
I found the recipe for this stain soak years ago in my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette:
1 C Powdered Cascade (or other plain powdered dishwasher detergent)
1 C Clorox II
5 Gallons very hot tap water
Mix it together and then soak the stained articles overnight. Do not use on delicate fabrics or fabrics that are not color safe.
4. Ignore the stain.
Yeah, this is actually a method! An item can have a stain and be completely clean. I don’t bother trying to get the stains out of the bottoms of my kids socks (they INSIST on wearing socks outside while I’m not looking) or my washcloths for the kitchen sink.
Personally, I like the idea of kids having “play clothes” and “school clothes” so that when they come home (and are more likely to be outside getting filthy) they wear clothes that are either already stained or that I don’t care if they get stained. I’m working on implementing that here-maybe it’s something that would help you?
So what are some of your favorite frugal stain strategies?