52 Weeks to Toxin Free – DIY Laundry Stain Remover

We have covered so much on our DIY front about how to remove toxins, maintain our sanity with cleanliness (if we can call it that) and we have found we are saving money all the while. So here is another money saver that I truly love! While taking a queue from my love of cooking and experimentation I decided to apply that to my laundry. You see I have a true DIY laundry stain remover that my mother and grandmother and their mother’s used. This DIY laundry stain remover is the original before the fancy spray and wash. Bear with me as this will include several recipes in one share, depending upon the stain, level of soiling and or the type of stain.

diy laundry stain remover, fels napthaWhen my twins were born my aunt bought me this great organic cleaner called Holy Cow and I used it for everything. The make was as a degreaser but I used it for laundry, HABITUALLY! My Sous Chef and Little Bitty would make enormous messes with their clothes, generally with high staining foods: blueberries, strawberries, beets, and sweet potatoes. Needless to say that stains were a chore to remove, except when I had my Holy Cow. Until one day I ran out and my favorite store stopped carrying it and Holy Cow disappeared from my life. Double you, tee, eff.

By this time though I had gone to work for the bank and my boss at the time shared about making her own laundry detergent and softener. What I never paid attention to in the year I was making my own laundry soap was that one of the ingredients is the best DIY laundry stain remover. That ingredient being Fels Naptha. Over the weekend I was sharing my love of this bar of soap to my friend at church and how easy it is to use, non-toxic and I do not find the smell or use as harsh. During our conversation an older woman turned around and asked “Fels Naptha?” and I replied “yes ma’am!” and she exclaimed how she has been using it for more than 50 years. Tickled with joy to hear others use it as well as they passed; I knew I had to share my affection for this age old laundry tool.

Instructions on the Fels Naptha bar are what make this the best DIY laundry stain remover ever, but I changed it up to make the product that much easier and cleaner for us parents on the move and who may not have a laundry basin or sink in our laundry rooms. Here are the instructions from Fels Naptha:

All you’ve got to do is rub the stain with a wet bar of Purex Fels-Naptha and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wash your clothes as you normally would and say farewell to tough stains for good.

DIY laundry stain remover

Stained white shirt before DIY Laundry Stain Remover

So I just love how easy that is to use on clothes and you know what? The method works! Even on the toughest stains. What I love even more are the ingredients listed RIGHT on the package. Tell me what laundry product lists their ingredients on their packaging? NONE! Pardon me while I carry on more because the best part about the ingredients is that they sound as fancy chemical names but they are basic salt and oil based ingredients that you would find in homemade soap. Anyhow I digress on the awesomeness, here is my variation recipe that is easy for you to use in your home:

  • one bar Fels Naptha, 1/4 to 1/3 bar shredded
  • one spray bottle
  • water

DIY laundry stain remover

Laundered shirt after using DIY Laundry Stain Remover

Experimentation led me to this awesome idea, if we can use a wet bar of Fels Naptha for stains, why not make it into a spray? So I shredded 1/4 to 1/3 bar of my Fels Naptha, using a funnel I poured it into my favorite spray bottle which happened to be my Holy Cow bottle. A clear spray bottle works as well so you know how much you have. Depending on how much you shred you want that to be sure to double the amount in water. Pour the water in and let sit over night. Give the bottle a good shake and VOILA! You have a DIY laundry stain remover spray that rivals Spray N’ Wash, Shout, or whatever other chemically laden product out there and for a fraction of the cost. I have even used Ivory soap when I cannot find the Fels Naptha (hint hint Christine) or a really great artisan soap from homemade soap makers. If you find the consistency is too gummy or gel like, just add more water by quarter cup increments and you are good to go.

Rust, wine, coffee, tomato sauce and tomato based stains are also a chore to remove and in the event life gets the better of me and I did not spray my laundry with my DIY laundry stain remover I am left with a stain that is a pain to remove, especially on whites which are the worst. (Hence I was an overachiever in my photos and immediately washed the white shirt my daughter wore the day previously to show you how effective the stain remover recipe is on clothes.)

Bleach is great, but I feel like I need to use a haz-mat suit every time I use because I am fearful of splashing and bleaching other clothes or items in my house. With that in mind I have found nature to be the best at fighting stains. My grandmother who I felt was the queen of clean shared this tidbit with my mother, who passed on to me: lemon juice and sunshine. Using good old lemons from our neighbors tree and the abundance of shoveled sunshine here in Arizona I find I have the brightest whites devoid of stains.

Dab, pour, drop, spray or rub lemon juice onto your nasty stain and place the clothing out into sunshine for the day. You will be surprised to find that these nasty stains have been removed from your life thanks to the power of nature.

Another of natures finest stain removers is salt. I love me some salt. I found salt to be an excellent stain and spill remover, especially for wine, juices and coffee. Rather than rushing for the towels to sop up that spill, run for the salt. Salt is an excellent stain remover and absorbs all the liquid before setting into your fabrics and or carpet. Just vacuum up after the salt has dried and no stain. I also love salt for hard, grimy buildup on my stainless steel pans after cooking. Just pour some salt onto the pan right after cooking, let sit and I use less soap and less effort to remove the cooking buildup.

What are some of your favorite DIY tips and tricks? What do you use that are everyday household items that keep your laundry from harboring stains like a grudge or that make life fancy free for your pocketbook? I’d love to feature you and your recipe.

Meet the Author

Karie Herring

Karie Herring rambles of a former life in Phoenix, AZ while raising a teen and tween twins in their new home in Orlando, FL. She has been featured in AOL Money & Finance, Betty Confidential and Career School Now. She's a full-time technical writer, functional fitness athlete, overachieving wife and mom. She loves talking about maneuvering motherhood, womanhood, and her passion for essential oils and natural living.

40 comments… add one
  • Terri Irvin Mar 9, 2016, 1:59 pm

    Love your old time pictures of a woman doing laundry! I worry about using bleach on my clothes…thanks for the information.

  • Paula Mar 9, 2016, 6:17 pm

    I have had a bar of Fels Naptha up on a shelf in my Laundry room for about 10 years now after reading this I am finally going to put it to good use!

  • Jenine Mar 10, 2016, 8:06 am

    Great info! I use Fels Naptha in my homemade laundry soap but I hadn’t thought of using it to pre-treat stained items. Now I will as I have a few bars in the cabinet. Also love the tips about the lemon and the salt. I’ll be trying the salt out with my grimy pans.

  • Renee Rousseau Mar 10, 2016, 11:15 am

    Great suggestions. So much safer than bleach. I like the fact that you have a choice of using the Fels Naptha bar wet or dry. If I am not washing the treated clothing right away, I hate for it to lay around wet but I can treat it with the Fels Naptha bar and not worry.

  • Christine Mar 10, 2016, 3:42 pm

    Awesome post! I got so many good ideas from it, as well as some helpful reminders. I love the idea of making the liquid stain remover (the safe and healthy version of Spray N Wash!)… and the lemon juice & sunshine really works! I got red wine out of my brand new white shorts by using this trick! Next time I’ll start with the Fels Naptha, and if that doesn’t get every last bit of it, I’ll up the ante with soaking it with lemon and sunshine. That tactic also worked safely to remove stains out of my grandmother’s apron and table cloths that my mom figured were destroyed from stains many moons ago. Thanks for all of your toxic free healthy alternatives, Karie! I’m loving these 🙂

  • Barrie Mar 10, 2016, 6:41 pm

    I’ve heard of a Fels Naptha bar but never used it or really knew how to use it! Thanks for the heads up.

  • Lindsay G Mar 11, 2016, 12:42 am

    Love this post! I literally have to do a big load of laundry every single day in my house or else it gets beyond out of hand, so little hints like this are very helpful

  • Sarah L Mar 11, 2016, 2:03 am

    I have a bar of Fels Naptha that a friend gave me and it’s sitting in my laundry room cabinet. Now I know what to do with it. Thanks.

  • Edye Mar 11, 2016, 10:42 am

    Great post! I had no idea that something like this even existed 🙂

    Edye // Gracefulcoffee

  • amy guillaume linderman Mar 11, 2016, 2:46 pm

    my dad swears by this! he always gives me some!

  • Jodi Hunter Mar 11, 2016, 4:47 pm

    Thanks for this post, I am trying to get rid of toxins in our life.

  • Linda Moore Mar 12, 2016, 3:45 am

    My mother used Fels soap on clothes and floors and everything would come up so clean. We are talking 50 years ago. I didn’t think it was still around. I will be looking for it. Thank you for a wonderful review.

  • Nancy Burgess Mar 12, 2016, 11:10 pm

    Great article I’ve used this but not all these ways thanks for sharing.

  • Edna Williams Mar 13, 2016, 12:19 pm

    Love Fels Naptha! Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Alexandria Maillet Mar 13, 2016, 2:15 pm

    I have never heard of this product but will definitely have to try it!

  • Chelsea W Mar 14, 2016, 10:30 am

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • gale mccarron Mar 25, 2016, 3:38 pm

    I love pre-treating my dingy clothes to give it an added lift. This product sounds fabulous to use just for that. Thanks for the review!

  • Judy Metcalf Mar 25, 2016, 11:00 pm

    Learning a lot of different things lately. Awesome

  • deb p Mar 26, 2016, 1:23 pm

    I do pretreat my whites, this may help. Thanks .

  • natalie nichols Mar 28, 2016, 12:11 pm

    This would be so great for us. We acquire some pretty serious stains on our clothing, on a regular basis.

  • Sara Apr 8, 2016, 3:23 pm

    This product be nice here at my house

  • Jeanine Carlson Apr 28, 2016, 11:54 pm

    Thanks for a great tip! I haven’t seen Fels Naptha in bars in a while but I hadn’t looked. My fave tip is to fill a spray bottle about 1/8 full of liquid fabric softener, then fill the rest of the way with water. Give it a shake, then spray onto a dedicated washrag that stays in the dryer. Spray each time you run the dryer and it will keep you from needing dryer sheets. No static and fresh smelling laundry! Costs pennies to use!

  • Erin K. Jul 6, 2016, 3:06 pm

    I am loving your toxin free posts. I especially love this toxin free stain remover. With three little kids, I definitely need this in my life! Thanks.

  • Veronica Lee Aug 1, 2016, 5:36 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I had no idea that something like this even existed!

  • mary czerczyk Aug 20, 2016, 2:32 pm

    You learn something new everyday. I had never heard of Fels Naptha before. It sounds like a great stain remover. I am going to try it.

  • Jerry Marquardt Aug 20, 2016, 7:03 pm

    This is a nice and organic recipe to help on saving the environment. I appreciate the information on trying to save thew planet.

  • Laura Sep 29, 2016, 7:42 pm

    I like that this is natural. I’ll have to try it out. I had a couple stains the other day that were SO difficult to get out!

  • Darlene Demell Oct 20, 2016, 10:01 pm

    Thanks for this post. I had no idea you could make your own stain remover at home. Natural is the way to go.

  • Treen Goodwin Oct 23, 2016, 6:30 am

    i have heard great things about the Fels Naptha , but never used one , i will have to look into it , thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Sherri Nov 1, 2016, 3:01 pm

    thank you for this. I use a lot of stain remover, so this will really come in handy

  • Tamra Phelps Nov 18, 2016, 12:33 pm

    I have heard of Fels Naptha, & my Grandma used it. But I have to admit I’ve never tried it myself. I’ll have to get a bar & try it.

  • Linda Manns Linneman Nov 22, 2016, 10:37 am

    I can’t wait to make this and give it a try. My grandchildren get so many stains on their clothes. This is great. Thank you so much for sharing

  • Dotty J Boucher Dec 12, 2016, 9:23 am

    I was actually thinking of this new year to start making my own laundry soap because no matter what soap I buy , my skin has been breaking out.

  • janie vezina Dec 12, 2016, 6:02 pm

    i need to find this, stains are always around with 9 kids.

  • denise low Dec 21, 2016, 3:55 pm

    We made our own laundry soap and used the Fels Naptha. I liked making my own laundry soap.

  • Renee Rousseau Dec 27, 2016, 8:39 am

    I keep a bar of Fels Naptha on my laundry shelf. Fels Naptha is a proven stain remover economically priced (who could ask for anything more?).

  • Holly Thomas Dec 30, 2016, 3:50 pm

    I need to buy Fels Napatha!

  • Lynda Cook Jan 17, 2017, 1:54 am

    Thanks for the great post, I am going to have to get me some Fels Naptha, thanks for sharing!!

  • Margaret Appel Apr 5, 2017, 9:49 pm

    I vaguely remember the name Fels Naptha but it was years ago. I am so glad you shared this! I am going to look for this next time I am at the store. We all need to find cheaper alternatives & ones that are chemical free these days. Thanks !!

  • John Smith Dec 29, 2017, 6:59 pm

    I will have to remember how useful salt is for stains!

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