Best stain removing products and cleaning tips

Real Simple

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(Photo: Dana Gallagher)

How to vanquish the stains that are taking over every surface in your house. Plus, some indestructible home products that will repel just about anything your kids can dish out.

To take the usual stain suspects out of carpets and upholstery, these are the best homemade solutions (apply each with a towel):


Dish soap: ¼ teaspoon non-bleach product (such as Dawn, Joy, or clear Ivory) plus 1 cup water.

Vinegar: 1 part white vinegar, 1 part water.

Ammonia: 1 tablespoon clear household formula plus 1 cup water.

Hydrogen peroxide: ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon household ammonia. (When using the store-bought cleaners or solvents mentioned below, follow the package directions. For all the treatments, test on an inconspicuous spot first.)








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Cleaning dirt

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Yard Dirt

Let dry, then vacuum up loose particles. Next, apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Or try Shaw R2X Carpet Stain & Soil Remover ($10 for 32 ounces, shawfloors.com).


(See also: Things you should always buy used)









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Removing snow and salt stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Snow and Salt

The calcium chloride in salty melted ice is alkaline and can leave a brownish stain. First vacuum up what you can. Next, neutralize with a vinegar solution. Blot with a towel from the edge of the stain inward. Follow with a solution of warm water and dish soap, then remove with a damp towel.












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Cleaning pee stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Pee

Soak up wetness with a towel. Apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a damp towel. When the stain is gone, apply a vinegar solution. Blot with the damp towel.

For odors, also try SSS Bio-Enzymatic Spotter ($7 a quart, janvey.com).









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Removing blood stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Blood

Apply a solution of cold water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a damp towel. Then use a peroxide solution. Let stand for a few hours. Repeat if necessary. When the stain is gone, blot on a vinegar solution. Follow with a damp towel.












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Cleaning Vomit Stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Vomit

Apply a solution of warm water and dish soap (blot; don’t rub). Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. Repeat if necessary. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a damp towel.














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Poop

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Poop

Apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. Repeat. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a warm, damp towel.

Or try the two-part Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover system ($3, guardsman.com): Level 1 is a cleaner; Level 2 is a solvent.











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Removing Milk Stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Milk

Soak up as much wetness as possible with a towel. Then apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. Repeat if necessary.

Or try Shaw R2X Carpet Stain & Soil Remover ($10 for 32 ounces, shawfloors.com).











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Removing Tomato Stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Tomato Sauce

Scrape off dried sauce, then apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a warm, damp towel.














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Food Grease

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Food Grease

First try Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover Level 1 cleaner ($3, guardsman.com); apply sparingly to a cloth (not the stain) and work in. If the stain persists, apply Level 2 solvent. Follow with a damp towel; blot excess moisture.

Or try Shaw R2X Carpet Stain & Soil Remover ($10, shawfloors.com).










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Juice or Berries Stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Juice or Berries

Scrape up any solids, then apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. If the stain persists, blot on an ammonia solution with a warm, damp towel.














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Marker or Sharpie stain removal

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Marker or Sharpie

First try Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover Level 1 cleaner ($3, guardsman.com); apply sparingly to a cloth (not the stain) and work in.

If the stain persists, apply Level 2 solvent. Follow with a damp towel; blot excess moisture. For walls, use dish soap and a wet soft, non-cellulose sponge, which shouldn’t harm paint.










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Ground-in Crayon stains

(Illustration : Andy J. Miller)

Ground-in Crayon

Apply a solution of warm water and dish soap, using a wet sponge. Blot from the outside of the stain to the center; reapply as necessary. Remove soap residue with a damp towel; blot. For serious cases, you can also try the Guardsman Fabric First Aid Stain Remover system ($3, guardsman.com).












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