Tag

natural cleaning

Home and Garden, How-To Eco Cleaning Guides, Natural Cleaning

How to Remove Tea Stains From Cups And Mugs Naturally

Don’t let brown tannin stains ruin a perfectly good cup of tea. Here’s how to remove tea and coffee stains from cups and mugs naturally.

Years ago I had this colleague who was prone to black tea in a very particular cup. However, he never washed out the cup – instead just rinsing it with water each time. I would always shudder when it was my turn to make the tea for everyone. The thing was so badly stained with tannins from the tea, that the white cup was completely dark brown on the inside – almost like a coating of fur. It was SO disgusting.

Whilst my colleague claimed the tannins in the mug contributed to the perfect cup of tea, I completely disagreed! I’m definitely of the mindset that to make the optimum cup of tea you need to start with a clean cup or mug.

Whenever I made the tea I’d secretly scrub out his cup with hot soapy water to make it a little more hygienic to handle. Yet even hot soapy water and a scourer were never enough to touch the sides of that cup. Those brown tannin stains seemed to be an integral part of that cup.

I am partial to a cup of tea – particularly plastic-free tea. And I’ve found that no matter how well – and how often – you wash your cups and mugs, they do often develop these tannin stains. Over the years I’ve found the best ways to remove tea stains from cups, cheaply, naturally and easily in just 30 minutes.

How To Remove Tea and Coffee Stains From Cups & Mugs

White cup next to a plant with blue text box that reads how to remove coffee and tea stains from cups and mugs naturally.

To remove stains from tea cups and coffee mugs, all you need is some soda crystals – also known as washing soda.

Simply add one teaspoon of soda crystals, and then fill the cup or mug with boiled water straight from the kettle. Stir to dissolve the soda crystals, and leave the solution to soak in the cup for at least half an hour. After half an hour, pour out the solution, and wash the cup in your sink, using a scourer or scrubbing brush to remove any residue.

For particularly stubborn stains, try soaking your cups overnight. Then scrub and wash them as before to shift these stains.

It’s such a simple and non-toxic way to remove stains, that I don’t recommend any other method. Nothing else I’ve found is as effective as soda crystals. Next time I’m cleaning my cups, I’ll be sure to post some before and after photos to this post. Right now my cups are sparkly clean so I have no good photos to share.

What Are Soda Crystals Exactly?

If you are wondering what soda crystals then, soda crystals are a simple one ingredient product – sodium carbonate. In plain English, this is a salt that contains no other additives.

Historically, soda crystals were extracted from areas where trees that had grown in sodium-rich soils had burned down. However, due to the versatility of soda crystals – they’re used in the soap, textile, and glass industries – soda crystals have long since been made commercially. Here sodium chloride (saltwater) reacts with limestone to form soda crystals.

Wondering where to buy soda crystals? You can buy soda crystals in hardware shops, in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket, or online very cheaply*.

If you don’t want to buy a bag of soda crystals just to clean your tea cups, then worry not. Soda crystals have heaps of uses around the home. From naturally unblocking drains to cleaning your washing machine and more. In fact, here are 15 uses for soda crystals. I am never without a bag!

I’m a huge fan of natural cleaning methods like this simple method of cleaning tea cups. I hope that by demonstrating just how effective natural products can be at cleaning, then you might be convinced to give products such as soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda a go at cleaning the rest of your home. If you’re inspired, do check out my complete guide to natural cleaning products.

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner In Seconds

I’ve got a really simple recipe for you today on how to make your own fabric conditioner.

You might be wondering why you need to make your own fabric conditioner when it’s widely available in the shops? And you might think you’re doing a good thing for your clothes when you reach for the fabric conditioner.  I don’t blame you.  Decades upon decades of marketing have convinced millions of us that fabric conditioner is a vital element of the laundry process. There’s a whopping $12 billion global market for the product.

But, I’ve got a little secret for you: you really don’t need to use conventional fabric conditioner.  The eco-friendly alternative to fabric conditioner I’m going to share costs just pennies per load and is much more effective, load per load, at softening your clothes.

How to Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner

make your own fabric conditioner

I’m a big fan of natural cleaning products to DIY.  Therefore, this homemade eco-friendly alternative to fabric conditioner is much better for you, your clothes, your washing machine and your environment. It’s perfect for people with sensitive skin, and it contains just two simple and inexpensive ingredients:

You will need:

500ml Glass bottle/jar
500ml White vinegar – here’s where to buy white vinegar in bulk for cleaning
30 drops of essential oil of your choice

Directions:

Fill your bottle/jar with vinegar, and add around 30 drops of essential oil to your vinegar

To Use:

Shake well before use.

At the stage when you are adding your laundry detergent to your machine, fill the fabric conditioner compartment of the drawer up to the line with the scented vinegar.  For a half load of washing, decrease the amount by half.

Using this mixture in place of fabric conditioner will give your laundry a delicate and clean aroma without a hint of vinegar — I promise!  If there is still a trace of vinegar on your wet clothes, be assured this will dissipate as the clothes dry.

My favourite oils to use for fabric conditioner are lemon and sweet orange for a zingy citrus aroma.  However, feel free to substitute depending on your preferences.  Alternatively, you can skip the oil for a scent-free conditioner.

Vinegar makes for a great natural fabric conditioner because its acidic nature cuts through soapy residue and limescale, helping to keep white clothes whiter. It’s also safe to use on coloured fabrics.

Unlike conventional fabric conditioner, this homemade version won’t interfere with the absorbency of your laundry, making your clothes and towels last longer and smell better. Nor will it leave deposits in your washing machine or plumbing.  In fact, vinegar also cuts through grease so you’ll actually clean your machine every time you do a load of laundry.  Double win!

Why You Should Ditch The Shop Bought Fabric Conditioner

Not convinced by homemade fabric conditioner? Here are four reasons to ditch the softener in favour of an effective eco-friendly alternative.

1. Fabric conditioner is terrible for some of your clothes and towels

Fabric conditioner essentially applies a thin, waxy coating to your laundry, which has to be water-resistant in order to survive the washing process.  

This waterproof coating makes your clothes feel softer but lessens their ability to properly absorb water and laundry detergent.  This means your clothes won’t respond as well to washing and will be more likely to lock in bad odours.

The chemical coating can also make your towels less absorbent over time and reduce the performance of sweat-resistant sportswear.  

Fabric conditioner is also harsh on cotton or bamboo clothing, which normally absorbs light perspiration on its own.  As soon as fabric conditioner is introduced, that absorption is lost.

When used on clothing containing elastane and nylon (such as leggings, skinny jeans, and bras), fabric conditioner can leave a residue that dulls the item’s finish and attracts odour-causing bacteria.

2. Some conventional brands aren’t vegetarian or vegan

Rather alarmingly, some fabric conditioners aren’t vegetarian- or vegan-friendly.  One ingredient found in certain brands is dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride.  In simpler terms: animal fat.  This fat is extracted from suet — the fatty tissues around the kidneys of cattle and sheep.  Suddenly that colourful bottle sitting in your laundry room doesn’t look quite as innocuous as it did at first.

3. It’s not great for us or the environment

Fabric softeners often contain a cocktail of non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals, which are not easily biodegradable.

A study by the University of Washington found that certain chemicals found in fabric conditioner are likely human carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens that can contribute to eczema.  These chemicals included the likely human carcinogens acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, the developmental toxicants methyl ethyl ketone and chloromethane, and allergens like linalool.

Once these chemicals are washed down the drain they can become highly toxic to aquatic life too.

4. It’s bad for your washing machine and plumbing.

As many brands of fabric conditioner are petroleum-based and full of animal fat, they can clog up your washing machine (especially if it’s a front-loading one) and pipes.

Fabric conditioner can also encourage the growth of mould in your machine.  Due to its fat content, when fabric conditioner is exposed to air and moisture, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mould.  And because of the design of most machines, it means that the water-resistant softener is never quite washed out properly. This leaves a residue that only encourages the growth of bacteria and black mould throughout your whole washing machine.  Which does not make for pleasant reading.

If you have been using a conventional fabric conditioner, then it’s really easy to clean the bacteria and mould from your washing machine.  Check out my guide on how to clean a washing machine to banish bacteria and mould for good.

I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful.  Firstly, how to dry clean at home.  Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – how often should you wash your clothes.  I also have a guide on how to wash wool, and how to wash striped clothing.  And lastly, I have a handy guide to natural stain removal.

This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen