Ten of the Best Cleaning Secrets for Impossible Stains

Don't you just hate it when you come across something difficult to clean and you don't know of an easy way to do it? You either wind up spending way too long trying to get it clean or throwing it away. How many dried up paintbrushes, items with blood stains or paint drips, and burnt pots and pans have you had to trash? How many carpet stains, mattress stains, or wall stains have you just learned to live with?

Well, there's not always a need to work so hard or, worse, throw your hard earned money away. Some things can be cleaned more easily than you would've imagined. It just takes the right product and knowledge.

Over the years I have learned of many cleaning secrets and I am going to share my knowledge. Some I have learned from trial and error... lots of error. Some I have read about and some have been whispered in my ear by an older, wiser relative or friend along the way. My mother says that "If it can be cleaned, Tammy (my childhood nickname) can clean it."

So here are 10 of the best kept secret tips for cleaning the 'impossible.' If you do learn a new tip here, and you find it works, please come back and leave a comment about it. If you have a tip or suggestion to one of mine, leave it in the comments section below.

Be sure to test a small area before cleaning to be sure it will not be damaged.

Soap scum on shower door...
Soap scum on shower door...
...all clean!
...all clean!

1. How to Remove Blood Stains

Blood stains are, for most, the most challenging non oil based stain usually encountered. Anything stained with blood is usually regarded as just ruined. This doesn't have to be the case. As with any stain the fresher it is, the more likely it can be removed. Even if it has dried, don't assume it's useless. Dried blood stains can be removed from most fabrics if it's less than a week or so old. For washable fabrics, just pour on and watch it do it's magic. Then, launder as usual. For non washable fabrics such as upholstery and especially mattresses, wet stain and blot stain until gone. And what miracle product can remove such a stubborn stain as blood with a mere blotting? Good, reliable, usually in every household - hydrogen peroxide! Yes, hydrogen peroxide is remarkable for removing blood as well as any other bodily fluid stains from most fabrics. It will bubble the stain out just the same as it does dirt from a wound. Try it on a perspiration stain one time too, it works on those as well. Perspiration stains can be found on collars, the inside rim of most ball caps, and washable hair accessories; not just underarms of shirts.

2. Removing Permanent Marker

Permanent marker, especially the Sharpie type, are another stain that is considered non-removable. And on many objects that's true, but not all. Most anything that you can use fingernail polish remover with acetone on without messing up its surface, you can remove permanent marker from using nail polish remover. Just be sure to rinse with water after cleaning. This includes most doll faces/bodies, granites, marbles, hard plastics, toys of most types, linoleums, etc. Just be sure to test an inconspicuous area first and never on wood of any kind.

3. Ink Stain Removal

Ball point pens love to lose their ink in the most inconvenient places such as a purse corner or front shirt pocket. These aren't necessarily ready to be trashed yet either. Before giving up on getting the stain out, get that can of hairspray from the bathroom and spray onto the stain while the fabric is DRY. It is best to have a cloth you can dispose of when done on one side to 'catch' the stain and work from other side. Saturate the stain only. be careful not to over saturate as the stain will spread to entire area that hairspray is absorbed. Try spraying very small amounts until stain is wet without too much spreading. Take another cloth, to be thrown away as well, and blot, blot, blot. Use you nail to separate fibers as you go to release stubborn areas. Keep repeating until stain is gone. If you spray stain and nothing loosens the first time, it's trash - forget it. But if it loosens only a small amount, just keep working at it.

4. Fruit Juice Stains

Got kids? Got fruit flavored drinks? Got carpet stains? Probably! Ever had your carpets steam cleaned and wondered what it is they do that removes those pesky stains when you spent hours on your knees scrubbing away and couldn't make it go away? I did and when I got tired of wondering, I asked. Who wants to live with the stains in between cleanings?

I couldn't believe my ears when they revealed their secret to me. So simple and only takes a few minutes and no scrubbing. Just a disposable cloth, steam iron, and water. Yes, that's it. No magic formula, no chemicals, just water, iron, and cloth.

  1. Dampen (don't wet, just dampen) stain with water to 'activate' it again. Do this even if it's a fresh stain because it thins the dye of the stain out.
  2. Place dry cloth over the top and use the highest setting with steam on the iron to iron over the cloth. Keep the iron moving at all times. The steam lifts the stain into the dry cloth.

(Paper towels can be used for this task if you are especially careful to keep moving the iron so as not to burn the paper towel.)

5. Getting Wax Out of Carpets

While you have the iron out taking care of the drink stain, got a spot where your favorite candle spilled over and wax is embedded in the fibers of your carpet? Take the iron temperature down to a medium-high setting and turn off the steam. Place yet another disposable cloth or paper towel over dried wax and iron, iron, iron. The wax will be transferred onto the cloth your ironing over and out of the carpet fibers in a matters of minutes. You may have to move cloth a time or two to a new clean are as you iron because the cloth can only hold so much wax and if you still have more to remove it will just move back and forth from cloth to carpet if you don't move cloth to fresh area as needed.

6. Cleaning Up Paint Drips and Spills

Ever had your home's interior painted and discovered the painters (or yourself) got paint on your doorknobs, light fixtures, hinges, handrail hardware or other metal hardware? Tried to wipe it away and found yourself still standing there twenty minutes later scraping it little by little with the corner of a fingernail until finally you decide nobody will notice and walk away? oh, they will notice but not as ,much as you will... but no worries, just remove the paint. Easily, quickly, and still have its shine when you're done. How? Two solutions on this one. On most fairly new spots that are too thick, such as brush strokes accidentally left on a knob or ceiling light, a quick spray of ammonia -based window cleaner rubbed with a cloth usually brings it right off. More difficult spots, take a paper towel saturated with plain white kitchen vinegar and wrap around stain. Let sit few minutes and go back with spray window cleaner and towel.

7. Removing Paint from Hard Surfaces

Another place that paint spatters and overspray love to stick to without mercy is bathroom sinks, tubs, shower stalls, especially those enclosure types made of fiberglass and all one piece. To remove paint from these areas you'll need a lemon (or citrus) oil furniture polish. Aerosol will work but liquid is best. You may also need a sponge with a non-scratch scrubber on one side. Rub paint stain with lemon oil and let sit for a few minutes. This loosens the paint. When paint loosens use a cleaning cloth or sponge to rub paint away. Stubborn spots may need more polish or use scrub side of sponge. After spots are removed, do an overall cleaning with your regular cleaner.

8. Cleaning Soap Scum

While we're in the bathroom, do you have a problem with glass shower doors and soap scum? Most people do. It is truly a nightmare for maid services and homeowners all around the world. First is the problem of removing the built up and hardened soap scum. Then, once it is clean, there is the dilemma of how to keep it from getting that way again without having to clean it daily.

Anyone who has wasted their money buying those shower sprays know they don't work. Spray once a day and never have soap scum again, NOT! I haven't found one that works yet. And I don't know of any permanent solution either. But, I do know how to make the cleaning the old a bit easier as well as a simple little trick to prolong it's building up again.

To clean the old scum away is a three step process that takes a little time to finish, however, you can be doing other things while waiting for the scum to breakdown.

  1. The first step is going to be done with liquid lemon furniture polish. Using an old towel or sponge, saturate the glass door and surrounding areas of soap scum as generously as possible with the polish and let sit for about an hour. Check periodically and re-saturate any areas that have dried as needed.
  2. When hour has passed, begin the second step. Using a plastic scraper like one used for removing paint, scrape away the biggest portion of soap scum. Do not use metal as it can scratch the glass. If the glass is textured, a fine steel wool pad is good for this step.
  3. Next, using a mixture of equal part water and vinegar, clean the glass. This should remove the oil as well as any soap scum that remains. Be careful to avoid getting vinegar mixture on metal as vinegar tends to turn aluminum black.
  4. Rinse well and re-clean entire area as normal to remove all oil, vinegar solution, etcetera and rinse well again. Dry the area as well as possible and then let air dry for at least half hour before beginning the final step.
  5. For the final step, you will need any type of wipe on, buff off automobile wax. The easier to use products are best. Wipe the entire glass door(s) on inside and outside with car wax and allow to dry to a haze. When wax is hazy, buff with a clean towel to a beautiful luster. This step not only helps the door be water-resistant, it also prevents the soapy residue from easily sticking to the glass. Does not stop scum from building, but slows it down.

When this preventive method is used in conjunction with a squeegee to remove excess water after each shower, it could be several months before it becomes necessary to clean again. It's time to redo this procedure when water begins to cling to the glass more than it should.

9. Pet Stain Removal

One of the worse stains I have dealt with on a regular basis are pet stains in rugs or carpets. I don't know what they put in dog food that is not just a dye but a staining agent when processed through the digestive tract of an animal. I've had blood stains lift easier out of carpet fibers before ever learning about peroxide. They are horrible. Even when you think they are gone, a little foot traffic and they are back. The best thing I have found so far to dissolve these little problem spots and keep them away is to pre-treat the area with one of those scrubbing bubble bathroom products that come in the aerosol can. Only the aerosol works and of course, without bleach as well. Spray stain very generously, completely wetting it through. Pet stains run all the way into the sub floor below your floor covering and if not cleaned all the way through will come back later to haunt you. So there isn't a too much or too wet option in this case. Once wet enough, let it soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. Scrub lightly with a medium bristled brush to remove as much staining as possible. If using a carpet cleaning machine, clean as usual. If not, use a cloth to wipe up as much stain and wetness up as possible. Let dry and vacuum.

10. Cleaning Burnt Pans

My final tip is one my simplest. Many times I have tossed a pot or pan after burning food in it that just would not come off. If only I had known all that you need to do is fill the pan or pot with plain water and place on stove on high. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat. Let pan cool down but not completely. Carefully remove, pour out water and rinse way majority of burnt food. Clean stubborn areas as needed. May be necessary to repeat procedure for large areas.

Comments 4 comments

Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 4 years ago

Tammy ~ Very, very useful and I shall bookmark for future removal of stains. blessings, Debby. P.S. Congratulations on Hub of Day award on your miniature book instructions!

Sandy K. 3 years ago

The best kept cleaning secret I know of is Genesis 950 cleaner. By far the best thing to clean everything with. From carpets to showers, ovens to clothing stains.

jorge 24 months ago

What if there is a stain and you don't remember what it was but is been there for a long time can you still remove it?

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

What a great hub! I would keep this is mind, especially for the burnt food tip on my baking pans.

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