One of my pet hates is cleaning products filled with chemicals. If I can smell bleach, I get worried because I know it’s not healthy for me. Yes, lots of people equate the smell of bleach with ‘clean’ but I believe they’ve been duped. Instead, I like to stick to low-toxic cleaning remedies and happily look to my grandmother’s era for solutions to domestic spills and stains. My book Spotless: solutions to domestic disasters (ABC Books) is a collection of this household wisdom.

One of the more unexpected handy hints involves removing ink stains. The difficulty with ink is there are several varieties and this solution doesn’t work with all types of ink. This removes biro ink. So, the way to remove biro stains from clothing is, wait for it, with sour or rotten milk. Yes, you read that correctly. It sounds slightly silly but it works. A friend of mine had a brand new expensive skirt that had ink stains from her handbag. The dry cleaner told her he couldn’t guarantee he could remove the stain without damaging the fabric and wouldn’t undertake the task. When I told her about using rotten milk, she was incredulous but desperate and gave it a go. I can happily report her skirt is back in action.

The technique goes like this. Place some milk in the sun and allow it to go lumpy and awful – this could take a couple of days. Once it’s rotten, place the clumpy, smelly solids over the stain. You’ll see the ink being absorbed into the solids. When the ink is removed, wash the item in soap and water. It’s a small miracle and while smelly, it’s not toxic.

Don’t believe me? Give it a go!

Jennifer Fleming is a best-selling writer and producer. Author of 6 books, her successful Spotless series of book has sold worldwide. Based in New York, Jennifer grew up in Australia and worked as a journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She’s currently a writer, content marketer, media strategist and coach. Visit Jennifer at or follow her Twitter.