Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mysterious Yellow Stain Remover

So one day when I was photographing some food for a recipe post at Deep South Dish, I went in search of a cloth napkin to put in the picture and since many of the ones I use more regularly are patterned, I thought "I should pull out all of my old linen napkins." Now, to be honest, we are more like paper towel kind of folks around here, so I never really use these napkins, but they are all white, off white, eggshell, ecru or some form of a neutral color which is a good choice for food photography. Most of these pieces were wedding gifts, so I've had them since the late 70s. {Every time I say that, I realize how old I really am-how can that be???}

Now these aren't anything fancy, or heirloom, or high dollar, well so far as I know anyway {though I guess they are vintage now aren't they}, they're just decent linen napkins. Well, seeing as they have been stored in a hutch for probably at least 10 or 15 years, I was not too surprised to find these spots all over them.

I have dealt with these mysterious yellow spots before. These aren't food stains from non-laundered linens that were put away dirty, but some sort of mysterious kind of spots that seem to pop up on clean, stored linens and even clothing over time. Some people call them age spots. Some say they are embedded stains on clean laundry, initially undetectable to the naked eye, but that pop out over time.

I have no idea if any of that is scientifically factual. All I know is that every single napkin was literally covered with these yellow stains. So I crossed my fingers and threw them in the wash only to find every one of those darned stains was still there after a full cycle of hot water, detergent and bleach! So I went ahead and dried them and wondered if they would be relegated to a future as cleaning rags. Then I remembered this old stain remover formula that I had used in the past.

Many years ago, I had some perfectly good, nearly new, white panties that had been laundered with hot water and bleach but had set in blood stains that just would not come out. I was just about to give up the ghost and toss them out, but heard about this formula, and thought I'd give it a try first. To my amazement is worked! It removed these old set in stains without a trace of them left behind, and I got a little more wear on those panties.

I am thrilled to say that this formula removed all of the mysterious yellow stains and my napkins are beautiful, bright, clean and mysterious yellow spot free!

This is not my formula, but one that went around the frugal circuits years back, attributed to the Tightwad Gazette of very early internet frugality fame. Now, I have to say that I have personally only used this on whites, though I know of others who used it on a variety of colored clothing - primarily infant and toddler stuff. I would also say don't use it on any type of delicate fabrics and certainly not on fabrics that are not color fast. I also don't think this will work well to remove certain stains, such as ink for instance.

In other words, use this at your own risk.

But, that said, if you've got a piece of clothing that is basically ruined anyway, you might want to give it a try and see what happens. If you venture into colored clothing, be sure to do only like colors together in one bucket at a time.

Mysterious Yellow Stain Remover

1 cup of powdered automatic dishwashing soap (like Cascade)
1 cup of laundry powder with color safe bleach (like Purex II/Clorox II)

Fill a 5 gallon bucket with the hottest water out of your tap. Stir in both powders until dissolved. Submerge items in bucket. Give them a good poke and stir with a long wooden spoon and let soak overnight. Launder as usual.
Remember I have only used this formula on whites, and I give no guarantees there either, so use at your own risk!

Don't forget to see what's cooking over at Deep South Dish!


  1. I think I will try that on my flour-sack dishtowels, too! They are white so I think it's safe to give it a go...very exciting around here, white dishcloths...white panties...white washcloths...white towels...white pillowcases...I like to bleach the heck out of stuff...LOL...but as you say, bleach doesn't always work! Thank'ee for the stain-removing tip!

  2. Thanks for the tip Mary. I have a few pieces of clothing set aside that need to have stains removed. I will try this on them.

  3. We only use cloth napkins (and most of them are vintage). It's our way of being ecologically friendly!

  4. We are definitely the paper towel/napkin folks around a matter of fact, my son says I'm high faluting to have paper napkins on the table...LOL!

    I love vintage linens...The Kitchen Linens book I bought recently was very interesting.

    Thanks for the recipe...glad it worked for ya!☼

  5. well now this sounds very simple!!! I will for sure be using this tip!!!
    thanks girl!

  6. I have saved a copy of this concoction. My tablecloths are a perfect test for its strength. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Thanks so much for this. I've gotta try it.

  8. Thanks so much! I've got several cloth napkins and tablecloths that are old and some have stains. Can't wait to try this.

  9. No way! I get those stains too on my linens. Thanks.

  10. Thanks for the tip!!! I got a white blouse out to iron it yesterday and what do you know... yellow stains on one of the arms. Hmmm Not the arm pit. Anyway this will come in handy!!

  11. I need to try this. I'm horrible about dropping food on my shirts and then getting grease stains on them. Then I wash them and they are ruined because the stains won't come out.

  12. I can't wait to try this. I have white towels and napkins.

  13. as I was reading through your post, I thought "that would be perfect on baby clothes that have been in storage since the last child!" and then you posted about that--lol, great minds think alike right?

  14. I was searching for a home remedy for age spots and tried your own recommended remedy. Guess what .... It worked. Thnx for sharing.


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