THINGS ARE GETTING GLAMOROUS OVER HERE. We're talking stain removal.
I used to thoroughly enjoy stain removal. The occasional spot of oil or tomato sauce I would get on my clothes proved to be a sort of fun challenge. I would race against the stain-setting clock to scrub out the mark and tenderly treat it with whatever concoction my carefully researched stain removal chart advised I use.
Then a newborn baby joined our brood. Stains abounded. Feeding myself became a sloppy, one-handed endeavor and it was a rare surface that was untouched by some bodily fluid.
Lacking both the mental and physical energy required to maintain my usually meticulous stain treating regimen, we started a stain soaking bucket using a hospital-provided plastic bin. I believe its intended use was to clean bottles. We filled it with an OxiClean solution and used it to soak clothes that had fallen victim to my poorly-aimed forkfuls of food, baby blowouts/spit up, and all manner of exceedingly delightful postpartum bodily functions.
The bin lived in our kitchen sink. Any time anyone started a load of laundry, the whole bin got dumped in, too. I remember thinking to myself, once we're out of the newborn phase, we won't need this anymore. HOW OPTIMISTIC.
Fast forward a couple of months, the stain bucket lived on. I grew suspicious that maybe stain removal would continue to be a constant activity in our lives if we didn't want to spend beaucoup bucks replacing all of our wardrobes, furniture, and textiles.
I liked the streamlined process of bulk-soaking items that needed extra attention, but didn't want to have a bucket of dirty clothes sitting in our sink for... er... the rest of forever. We also needed a bigger container.
In the months we've been doing the stain bucket system, we've hammered it out pretty well and - I think - simplified stain removal as much as possible while still achieving the desired, stain-free result!
Here's how the system works:
We got a bigger container. With a lid, so we wouldn't have to worry about cats drinking stain remover or spilling large amounts of water everywhere. It lives on top of our washing machine.
Told you this would be glamorous!
The container AT ALL TIMES has an OxiClean solution in it. We buy the powder. No measuring is involved in mixing a solution. Filling the stain bucket means scooping some OxiClean powder in and adding enough water for it to dissolve.
As things get stained, we throw them in the bin. We don't rinse or pre-treat, we just throw it in and close the lid. And all items get the same treatment regardless of whether they have blood/blueberry/oil/spit up/etc on them!
When we start a load of laundry, we dump the entire contents of the bin into the machine and run it as usual.
(As a side note, we are the wild people who live on the edge and don't separate lights and darks. We just wash everything together on cold. We even soak lights/colors together! So far, nothing bad has happened to us or our laundry. Proceed at your own risk.)
Once it's emptied into the washer, the bin is (ideally) immediately refilled with a soaking solution. I think the longest we've ever gone without having to soak something is like 10 hours. We've learned it's best to be prepared. It's just a matter of time.
Also! If it's just a tiny spot that needs attention, versus like 85 percent of the surface area of Baby's outfit, we dab on the OxiClean stick instead of soaking. Just because space is occasionally at a premium in the soaking bin.
(I first bought the OxiClean gel stick because I was trying to use up the last $3 of a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card and couldn't find anything else to buy. It has pretty much changed my life.)
That's the whole system! As a lover of stain removal, I find it super satisfying. Streamlining the entire stain removal process has also been a major victory because I think the alternatives would be all of our clothes being ruined, or me dedicating a lot of my time to individually treating each article of clothing that needs attention. And! I would say this system has prevented 98% of would-be stains from setting.
Tips + Pointers:
As with all stain removal, time is of the essence! The more time that passes between the stain occurring and stain treatment happening, the more likely it is that the stain will set.
Additional stain-fighting tactics include: rinsing the stain prior to soaking, and checking to see if it's still there after the wash cycle. If it is, continue treating. Never dry a stain! (Unless you want it to be there forever!)
I mentioned this already, but we've found it very important to have a stain soaking solution ready at all times! Not that it's hard to do, but nobody wants to be filling up the stain bucket when they're also trying to clean up a blowout/spill/etc.