Monday, September 29, 2014

Thrifty Acres: DIY Stain Remover

Hello! Our washing machine started misbehaving awhile back - I noticed what looked like oily drops and smears on our clothing after a wash cycle was done. For some unknown reason, these stains seemed to be especially fond of my husband's numerous yellow polo shirts.

An expensive repair on a 12-year-old machine didn't make sense, so we got a new washing machine. Now that it's up and running, it was time to tackle those stained shirts. Some people swear by Oxi-Clean, some use Dawn dish soap to remove oily stains, others use Lestoil, but I turned to a stain remover "recipe" I got from Amy Dacyczyn's first Tightwad Gazette book:

"Add one cup each of powdered Cascade and Clorox II to five gallons of the hottest water to come out of your faucet. Soak several articles overnight, and launder as usual. 

This procedure will remove about 90% of the stains that do not come out with normal laundering. I do not use this recipe for delicate fabrics, or fabrics that are not color-fast. It is particularly good for removing food stains."

So, last night I filled an old stock pot with hot water, and made it hotter by heating it up on the stove a bit. Stirred in the Cascade and Clorox II, then added the shirts. Put the lid on the pot and carried it down to the laundry room, ready for washing this morning. That's it - no scrubbing necessary.

I need to note here that my stock pot doesn't hold five gallons, so I reduced the amount of Cascade and Clorox II. I couldn't fit all the stained clothes into the pot, but the solution can be reused, so I'll soak the rest tonight. 

Even though the stain remover "recipe" mentions that it's "particularly good for removing food stains", I found that it worked great on those greasy stains from the malcontent washer. Easy to do, good results - and my husband has his yellow shirts back!


  1. I should try this on my sails. I'll bet I could do it in the bathtub.

  2. I'm sure the bathtub would work great - I couldn't use mine at the time because it was backed up!

  3. This worked great! Only soaked it for about four hours. The water was filthy. Bob can't believe how good it worked. There was one area still dirty, but maybe nothing will get that out. I'm sold!

  4. Hey, thanks for letting me know that you had success with this! It really does seem to work well - besides removing the oily stains, the shirts I soaked came out looking practically brand new. Don't know if the dirty area would have come out had you soaked it longer, but it sounds like you had good results!

  5. Bob was SHOCKED at how well it worked. Now he can't wait to use the same process on the other sail. Unfortunately, that one is larger so we'll have to find a bigger vessel than the bathtub. Maybe a kiddie pool?

  6. good luck with finding something big enough for soaking that other sail!