For those who care about being environmentally-responsible and have made the effort to install sustainable flooring, the final step is eco-friendly floor cleaning. This involves using cleaning products which are plant-based and do not release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, waterways or general environment, as well as choosing cleaning methods that reduce the use of water and any energy consumed.
When it comes to stains, however, there is often the temptation to reach for the host of commercial stain removers available, each promising to remove stains with minimal effort and maximum success. Before you jump to use one of these, however, consider some natural alternatives which are not only eco-friendly but are also very effective:
Baking soda has been sadly forgotten and under-used in modern housekeeping. It is a fantastic all-round product with many useful properties and in particular, is a very effective stain remover. In many cases, stains – such as tannin stains from tea and coffee – can be removed by gently rubbing with a damp sponge sprinkled with baking soda.
For a more powerful stain remover which can also be used as an all-purpose cleaner, mix baking soda with lemon juice or vinegar (or even just water) and make it into a paste. Baking soda is also a great deodoriser and can be sprinkled on carpets before vacuuming to help absorb any nasty odours. This is particularly useful if you have pets or very messy children – or just a high traffic volume through your house!
White vinegar is essentially a mild acid and therefore, it is very effective on solid and stubborn stains. It can even work on mould and mildew and animal urine stains in the carpet.
Like baking soda, it is also a good deodoriser – simply place a bowl of vinegar in the room or even spray some into the air and it will absorb unpleasant odours.
White vinegar mixed with water is a very good cleaner and stain remover for linoleum, although take care to wipe up all excess liquid afterwards as any soaking through could damage the flooring and especially, destroy its anti-microbial properties.
For many hard floors, a mixture of 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon of hot water makes a very effective general cleaner – simply mop over the floor and then wipe clean and dry with a soft cloth or towel.
Like baking soda, lemon juice is sorely under-used around the home, especially as a stain remover. It is also mildly acidic and therefore has a slight bleaching effect. It is also very effective at dissolving oils and grease and so is particularly good for use on greasy stains. In fact, it is one of the first things you should try when tackling any kind of stain, as it is effective on such a wide range of substances.
For more stubborn stains, lemon juice can be combined with salt to increase its effectiveness. When choosing a lemon to use for stain removal, pick one which feels heavy and firm and has a fine-grained skin, because these will provide more juice.
Disgusting as it may sound, applying saliva to fresh blood or food stains can be surprisingly effective. It is the nature’s “enzymatic stain remover”! The enzymes in saliva will dissolve any organic molecules in a stain. Simply spit on the stain and then loosen the stain with your fingers, followed by a rinsing in cold water. Avoid hot water as this can set the stain, if it has not been removed thoroughly the first time.
Sunlight is nature’s bleach and it is a powerful one. Simply moisten the stained area with water and leave it outside in direct sunlight. Wait until it dries and then repeat. You may need to repeat a few times until the stain disappears. Remember, commercial bleaches are one of the most damaging things to the environment so avoid them as much as possible.
Another natural stain remover, salt is very effective on fresh blood and also if you spill any red wine onto your carpet. Just pour a generous amount onto the stain (quite a lot may be required) and let the salt grains absorb and lift the stain.
The best thing about all these stain removes is that they are completely natural, they are biodegradable, they cause no harm to the environment and they are cheap!