Best stain remover

This powder is a non-toxic, non-chlorine bleach. Chemically it works like hydrogen peroxide, which is a water molecule with an added unstable oxygen. OxyPower is chiefly sodium percarbonate, which is washing soda with additional unstable oxygen. As in hydrogen peroxide, the excitable oxygen bubbles off when it reacts, chemically oxidizing smells, films, germs and stains of all kinds. But because OxyPower is a dry powder it is far more durable and stable than hydrogen peroxide, easier to concentrate, and cheaper in bulk. (Drugstore hydrogen peroxide is 2% solution; OxyPower is equivalent to 27% peroxide.) Best of all, percarbonate degrades to simple oxygen and washing soda (sodium carbonate). Greenies love it, and it is sold in many environmental friendly stores. I feel comfortable using it in the kitchen, and will freely work it in my hands; it has an alkaline soapy feel and fizzes satisfyingly.

Dissolved in water, it works wonders on carpet stains, soiled clothing, weird gunk on counters, mildew, trash cans, refrigerator smell and so forth. American Test Kitchens tested all available cleaners and found that sodium percarbonate was the all-around champ on getting severe grease, food, coffee and wine stains from clothes. Generally, oxygen bleaches won’t fade or affect colors like chlorine bleaches will.

Sodium percarbonate is an old chemical, but manufacturers only recently learned how to make this stuff in the vast quantities needed to be tossed by the cupfull into laundry machines. For around-the-house chores, I’ve found that a very little of this stuff will go a long way. You can mix it to your own preferred concentration. There are a number of powdered cleaners based on sodium percarbonate and they all have “oxy” in their names. (Liquid cleaners with “oxy” in the name are usually hydrogen peroxide.) But of these, OxyPower has the highest percentage of the active ingredient. OxiClean, from another manufacturer, is a best buy for laundry use. Most general stores, like Walmart and Target, carry it.

04/28/04 -- KK