cleaning and laundry

the frugal laundry and simple stain removal

This website may earn commissions from purchases made through links in this post.

Natural stain removal can seem complicated.

Rotten milk may just well be the best way to remove biro from your shirt, for instance, but are you going to try it?

No, me either.

There is, however, one simple and frugal item that works well on most stains.


I know. Soap. For cleaning! Who would have thought?

Good old soap and a little elbow grease can conquer most stains without using chemical stain removals or having a whole arsenal of stain removal products in the laundry.

Here is my quick and dirty guide to getting clothes clean.

prevention is better than cure

Of course, washing clothes is a lot easier if you don’t have to deal with stains at all. And one of the best ways to prevent stains in the first place is to cover up when doing things that might lead to staining.

A good old apron is a great way to keep your clothes clean while your cooking, eating, feeding the baby, gardening, scraping the burnt bits out of the cooking pan (do you think they are the best bits to eat too? Unfortunately I have a hand / mouth co-ordination issue).

An alternative to the apron is to wear old clothes around the house, especially whilst doing messy chores like gardening or painting – this keeps your good clothes looking good.

For young children, bibs and painting smocks (old shirts) work well to keep clothes clean, although I find having the kids sans-clothes makes for even easier clean up and less washing.

In the kit

While most stains can be treated effectively with just a bar of plain old laundry soap, there are a few other items that can be useful for stains and that you probably already have on hand, especially if you make your own natural cleaners.

Dishwashing detergent is good for tough oil or grease stains.

White vinegar diluted in water either as a soaker or as a spray helps whiten whites, remove stains like collar stains and deodorant stains and also deodorisers.

Bicarb soda also deodorises. A paste of bicarb and water can be used on stubborn underarm or collar stains.

General stain removal principles

  • Treat the stain straight away if you can.
  • Always treat a stain before ironing or drying in a clothes dryer – heat sets stains.
  • Use cold water to treat stains – while hot water is effective on greasy stains, it sets protein stains and many stains include both a protein and grease component. Always start with cold water first and then move onto hot water if the stain persists.
  • Check clothes for stains before they go in the wash.
  • My method of stain removal involves rinsing or dampening clothes in cold water, rubbing on a little soap, giving the stain a good rub until it disappears (or you can use a gentle dab with a white cloth if they are delicate clothes – I don’t do delicates much anymore), then throwing them in the wash.
  • Please consult Google if the stain persists. If you try rotten milk, let me know how it goes.

What are your tips for stain removal in the laundry?


Similar Posts


  1. I must agree, elbow grease and soap is the only way to go. I use Sard soap on all the splodges. I read many years ago that a dissolved aspirin in water for soaking white business shirts to remove any body odours. I never tried it but I think my mother did. She gave everything a scrub before it went into the washing machine (long time ago), and I mean everything!

  2. Yes the dishwashing detergent I use on bbq or fatty stains. A male friend actually told me about it as he dropped sausage on his tshirt. He said that is breaks up fat in the dishes so why not his clothes, I have used that sucessfully since

  3. Thanks for the washing detergent tip Jenize. Delphine I agree about the Sard. I ran out of laundry powder about a month ago and was stuck until my next pay day so I grated up some Sard “wonder soap” and disolved about a 1/2 tablespoon in warm water then added it to my front loader…worked a treat :)

    I’m so glad you wrote about this Melissa, it’s funny how in our bid to be creative we can loss sight of the obvious. Thank you. (On a side note and very off topic I just stumbled across this which I thought you might like to check out, as a frugal and smart Aussie Mum I thought it might interest you, you may want to add it to your blog…or not. I could email but to be honest I’m all over the place internet wise tonight and know I’ll forget, so hope you don’t mind me adding it here. )

Comments are closed.