I have noticed that Hellenismos has its own, very specific, cleaning problems. As you have seen, my altar stands on carpet, and the longer I practice, the more wine stains appear on it. The bowl I use to give burnt offerings is stained with soot, and I'm sure that if it stood near a wall, that would be blackened as well. On top of that, the copper bowl I use to keep my daily khernips in, stains due to the water, and the salt in it. On days of purification as well as on the Deipnon, I spent some time cleaning these items. Today, I wanted to share with you some natural ways to clean these tools. Note that there are chemical cleaning tools available for all these stains--so if you're desperate to have a stain removed, that is always a possibility--but I prefer the natural way.

Wine stains:
Especially red wine leaves hard to remove stains on carpet, clothes and even even your hands. Luckily, there are some cleaning tips for all of these, and although they won't remove the stain completely, they make the stains less obvious. All in all, it is easiest to remove red wine when it is still wet. Dried wine stains are harder to remove. Some tips for fresh (red) wine stains:
  • blot--but never rub the stain--to remove as much of the moisture as possible
  • work from the outside of the stain towards the center to keep the stain from spreading
  • blot the stain with white wine and/or club soda and/or vinegar to try to get as much out as possible
  • rinse the fabric with cold water
  • pour milk over it and let soak
  • rinse again
  • if the stain remains, blot the fabric, then pour salt on it; salt absorbs the wine (baking soda or talcum should also work)
  • vacuum up the salt after a few hours
Whatever remains of the stain after this, is most likely there to stay. You can try hand washing the cloth in cold water, just to see if you can get more out of it, but no guarantees. As soon as you apply heat to it--either in the washing machine or the drier--the stain will set and you'll need chemicals to remove it. If your stain is old and dried, you can try the following:
  • apply a paste of cream of tartan and water
  • let set for a few minutes and then rinse by blotting with a clean towel
  • if this does not work, you could also try applying white/whitening (!) toothpaste to the stain to see if that drains the color from it somewhat
  • avoid hot water when cleaning off the toothpaste or cream!

Even though I scrub my offering bowl with steel wool, even before applying soap and hot water, the kitchen towel is still stained black afterwards--and trust me, I take my time cleaning it. What are some handy tips to remove this type of staining?
  • Soot is essentially black carbon, and when mixed with water, it stains everything it touches: use dry techniques first!
  • remove as much loose soot with a wire brush, steel wool, or other handy tool
  • remember to use swishing motions, and never rub, else the soot becomes smeared and even harder to remove
  • tip out the loosened soot, or vacuum it out
  • apply salt or baking soda to the soot stains--in bowls, scrub with your fingers t apply the salt, and let it absorb it; in fabric, apply and rub gently, then wait a while
  • vacuum out the salt
  • wash in hot water--with or without soap--and scrub until most (if not all) of the sooth is gone

  • soot stains on your brick walls can generally be removed by wire brush or steel wool, and a vacuum
  • soot stains on painted or wallpaper are best brushed and/or vacuumed, then apply a mixture of vinegar and water--or use pure vinegar--with a dry cloth (lemon juice works as well, and best on paint)
  • rub gently while applying a clean part of the cloth every time the cloth stains
  • it might take a while, but the stain will fade

  • to remove soot stains from fabric, create a mixture of vinegar and salt, or lemon juice and salt
  • rub the stain gently, until the stain fades
  • rinse out

Water stains on copper:
Copper has long been used to create cups, bowls and other household paraphernalia, dating back as far as 9000 BC. Over time, copper has a tendency to oxidize and change color to a blue-green called patina. Personally, I'm not a fan, and prefer my copper bowls shiny. Here are a few household ways to clean copper:
  • make a paste of equal parts salt, vinegar and flour; apply the paste to the stain and allow it to sit for fifteen minutes to an hour, then wash the paste away with warm soapy water
  • alternatively, rub salt into the stain with a soft, clean, cloth
  • another method is to apply ketchup to the stain and let sit for a while, then rub the stain with soft, clean, cloth until the stain is gone, and rinse
  • rub the stains with half a lemon, sprinkled in salt until the stain disappears, rinse afterwards
  • make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, apply for two to three hours, then wash with soapy water
Do you have other handy tips and tricks for stain removal? The comment section is open.