Butter: On dry carpet use dry-cleaner. On fabrics use ammonia solution OR detergent solution followed by mineral turpentine if necessary OR the handmade soap.
Candlewax: Freeze the wax with ice in a plastic bag, making it easier to pick off. Scrape away as much as possible. Pack stain on each side with absorbent paper and iron with a warm iron, changing the paper as the wax is absorbed. Sponge the residue with methylated spirits. Wash with detergent solution or washing powder.
Chewing gum: Freeze the gum with ice then chip it off. Treat the residue with turpentine or oil of eucalyptus then wash with hot soapy water.
Chocolate or cocoa: Warm, soapy water or a detergent solution then rinse. If stain persists try the ammonia solution. Use dry-cleaner on dry stains only; test first.
Coffee: Detergent solution made with warm water OR a pre-wash laundry soaker. If the stain is dry, lubricate first with glycerine. For hints on cleaning stained cups or mugs, see ‘Tea’ below.
Cola and soft drinks: Cold detergent solution OR carpet shampoo. Rinse and dab dry repeatedly until the stain fades.
Cooking oil: Rub with handmade soap OR sprinkle with talc and leave for 30 minutes. Scrape off and sponge with warm detergent solution. Lubricate old stains with glycerine first.
Correction fluid: Try methylated spirits and if that doesn’t work try nail polish remover.
Crayon: Same method as for candlewax. If the crayon is on wallpaper, use a warm iron and blotting paper and rub over the mark with bread crusts.
Cream: Same method as for butter.
Deodorants: Warm detergent solution with a few drops of cloudy ammonia added. Treat residual stain with turpentine.
Egg: Dry with a paper towel and lightly sponge with 3 tsp detergent and 1 tsp cloudy ammonia in 1 cup warm water. Wash washables in laundry detergent.
Faeces: Detergent solution followed by clear household disinfectant. Rinse with water.
Felt-tip or marker pen ink: Sponge or dip in a solution of equal parts methylated spirits and ammonia. Rinse thoroughly with water. Repeat if necessary.
Food colouring: Wash immediately in lukewarm water. Treat with equal parts of methylated spirits and cloudy ammonia. Rinse well.
Fruit: Soak in warm detergent solution with 2 tsp white vinegar added OR use pre-wash laundry soaker. Treat residual stains with methylated spirits.
Furniture polish: Dry-cleaner.
Glue: For PVA treat with methylated spirits and wash in warm detergent solution. For cellulose-based glue, soak in cold detergent solution or pre-wash laundry soaker. Other solvent-based glues may respond to nail polish remover. Otherwise refer to directions on the glue packaging.
Gravy: Warm detergent solution.
Grass: Pre-wash laundry soaker OR sponge with methylated spirits then soak in detergent solution.
Hairspray: Sponge with methylated spirits.
Ice cream: Same method as for butter.
Jelly: Sponge with warm water.
Lipstick and makeup: Sponge with methylated spirits then soak in a solution of five parts detergent to one part ammonia OR apply oil of eucalyptus then rinse.
Mascara: Mineral turpentine.
Mayonnaise: Solution of 1 tsp detergent and 1 tsp cloudy ammonia to 1 cup water.
Mildew or mould: On white fabric, soak in a mixture of 1tablespoon bleach to 1 litre of warm water. On coloured fabric, rub with lemon juice and expose it to sunshine OR make a paste of baking soda and water, apply with nail brush, allow to dry and brush off. On carpet, dampen the area first and sponge with a weak solution of one part cloudy ammonia to 10 parts water. Sponge again with clear water and dab dry. Repeat if necessary, taking care to allow the carpet to dry out enough so that the solution doesn’t soak through to the backing.
Nicotine: Use detergent solution with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) added.
Nail polish: Treat natural fibres with nail polish remover. Don’t drip nail polish on synthetic fibres! It’s a very complicated process to find the right antidote that won’t affect the fibre.
Oil (motor): Sponge with a mechanic’s handwash OR mineral turpentine and rinse well. Repeat as necessary. For washable fabrics rub glycerine into the stain, rinse under a hot tap and soak in pre-wash soaker or detergent solution.
Oil (vegetable/cooking): Keep stain moist with kerosene (don’t use water) and take to the dry-cleaners OR use handmade soap and soak in pre-wash soaker.
Oven soiling: A paste of bicarbonate of soda and water OR bicarbonate of soda and vinegar will clean the oven well if used regularly.
Paint (oil-based): Scrape off as much as possible. If paint is drying, soften with glycerine first and sponge the residue with mineral turpentine. Wash with washing-machine powder and water. Rinse.
Paint (water-based): Get on to this quickly before drying occurs. Wash the majority away with water and treat the residue with methylated spirits.
Perfume: Apply glycerine then wash in equal parts of white vinegar and water. To reduce odour, wash with a solution of one part bicarbonate of soda to four parts water. Rinse.
Perspiration: Treat with handmade soap and expose to sunshine. Reduce persistent odour by soaking in a solution of one part bicarbonate of soda to four parts water. For difficult stains, sponge with a solution of one part ammonia to five parts water and rinse, then soak in a solution of one part white vinegar and three parts water.
Scorch marks: Light marks can be removed by washing immediately in warm soapy water. Rinse and expose to the sun.
Shoe polish: Sponge with detergent or handmade soap then soak in pre-wash soaker. For non-washables or strong stains apply a solution of equal parts methylated spirits and ammonia. Rinse in water with a few drops of white vinegar added.
Soot: Vacuum and follow with dry-cleaner. On washable fabrics use a brush followed by mineral turpentine. Soak in pre-wash soaker.
Sunscreen: Sponge with methylated spirits. Wash with handmade soap. Rinse.
Tar: Soften with turpentine and scrape off as much as possible. Apply turpentine to residue, then rub in vaseline and wash with handmade soap. Rinse.
Tea: Sponge immediately with warm detergent solution. Dab dry, rinse and dab dry again. Repeat until colour fades. Lubricate old stains with glycerine before washing in detergent solution. Tea or coffee stains on cups can be cleaned by filling the cup with water and adding 1 tsp household bleach. Allow to soak for an hour. OR scrub the inside of the cup with damp salt or a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water on a toothbrush.
Tomato sauce: Sponge with warm detergent solution while still wet. Rinse. Treat the residue with methylated spirits.
Urine: Dab with a solution of 1 tsp detergent, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp cloudy ammonia to 1 cup of water and rinse OR soak in a solution of one part ammonia to five parts water, followed by a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water OR soak in nappy soaker.
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Vomit: Solution of white vinegar, water and detergent.
Wine (red): The safest treatment is plain water. Blot with a cloth, add water, blot again. Repeat until the stain fades. Dabbing with white wine can also work OR apply salt and let dry. Scrape the salt off and rinse.
Wine (white): Apply white vinegar then rinse.