Stains are an inevitable part of life, but many conventional stain removers contain toxic chemicals that are highly dangerous to both you and the environment. Commercially available stain removers are ripe with neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, and carcinogens. Products regularly found in your home, like lemon juice, salt, and white vinegar, boast powerful stain-fighting capabilities without the harmful side effects.
Like upcycling vintage fashion, we love to find old-world ways to solve modern problems, and it doesn’t get much better than these natural stain removal techniques!
Quick Facts: Stain Remover Toxicity
- $10 billion spent on laundry care: The size of the laundry care industry within the US is approximately $10 billion! Proctor and Gamble brands, such as Tide, Downy, Bounce, Cheer, and Febreeze, account for 52% of retail sales within the industry.[i] [ii] [iii]
- Non-renewably based surfactants: Surfactants and solvents found in conventional stain removal products are petroleum-based (non-renewable fossil fuels) and do not biodegrade quickly (if at all), causing ecosystem damage.[iv]
- Bleach and carcinogenic dioxins: Chlorine (bleach) kills small organisms in water and soil even at low levels, and it combines with organic materials to form carcinogenic dioxin.[v]
Quick Guide: Top Stain Removal Toxins
- Stain remover toxins: Benzene, toluene, xylene: These are neurotoxins and can damage the central nervous system.
- Stain remover toxin: Methylene chloride: This chemical acts as a carcinogen, neurotoxin, and reproductive toxin, and can cause liver and brain damage, irregular heartbeat, and irritation of the skin and eyes.
- Stain remover toxin: Monoethanolamine: Found in laundry pre-soaks, this one can cause liver, kidney, reproductive, and central nervous system damage.
- Stain remover toxins: Parabens: Found in a wide range of cleaning products, these act as hormone disrupters.
- Stain remover toxin: Sodium hypochlorite: Commonly known as bleach or chlorine, this one is a respiratory irritant, a neurotoxin, and can cause liver damage.
Take Action! Natural Stain Removal Options
- Make your own eco-friendly stain removers: If you like to tinker with chemistry, make your own homemade green cleaning products, including natural cleaning products for every stain imaginable – from concrete grease to blood to red wine.
- Buy eco stain removers: For those who don’t want to bother with making their own homemade stain removers, try store bought options such as Seventh Generation’s Natural Laundry Stain Remover, Natural Oxy Stain Remover, Ecover’s Stain Remover Stick, or ECOS Everyday Stain & Odor Remover or Zainz Laundry Pre-wash.
Keep Digging: Natural Stain Removers
- Learn more about the toxicity of common products from Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia Guide to less toxic products.
[i] Euromonitor International. (2012, May). Laundry care in the US. Retrieved from http://www.euromonitor.com/laundry-care-in-the-us/report
[ii] Nature Clean. (n.d.). Laundry stain remover. Retrieved from http://www.naturecleanliving.com/laundry_stain_remover
[iii] Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia. (n.d.). Guide to less toxic products. Retrieved from http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=household
[iv] Care2. (2009, September 20). Health hazards of stain removers. Retrieved from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-hazards-of-stain-removers.html
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