Any mother will tell you that baby clothes stains are the ultimate worst. This is because babies have not yet learned to eat without messing; they throw up, spit, and do all the other little things that babies do. Some enterprising soul developed throw-away nappies, so that solved part of the problem, but as far as baby clothes stains go, that is still a nightmare for any mother.
Of course, one way of dealing with baby clothes stains is to prevent them from happening in the first place, and this can be done in a variety of ways:
- Bibs – these little inventions protect clothing from stains and getting ruined, and one can find bibs that protect the whole top half of baby’s clothing these days.
- Cloths – if there is not bib handy, try using a burp cloth, a hand towel, serviette or paper napkin to protect baby’s clothing
- Baby nudist – if you are feeding at home and it is not cold, try removing baby’s clothing and feeding them then washing them after; it is infinitely easier to get food off of baby than baby’s clothing
It is not always easy to prevent baby from spitting, messing or leaking though, so over the years, mothers and carers have come up with various ways of dealing with formula, spit-up, chocolate, milk and various other baby clothes stains. There are literally thousands of remedies and cleaning agents out there, and if you ask ten mothers, chances are that you will get ten different answers as to how to get rid of baby clothes stains. Not all of them will work though, and some of them may be dangerous for baby or ruin the delicate fabric of baby’s clothing, so be careful of what advice you follow.
How To Get Rid Of Those Stubborn Stains
There are several baby clothes stains that are common to all babies and with which mothers all over the globe struggle:
This is a stain that you will see plenty of and which can sometimes drive mothers to extraordinary lengths to try to get rid of. In actual fact, it is one of the easier stains to remove and can be done quite easily; the solution is baking soda and club soda.
Sprinkle a little baking soda on the stain and pour on a bit of club soda; the reaction will be akin to those paper mache volcanoes that you made as a kid in school; it will bubble and foam. Once it has bubbled for a few minutes, take an old toothbrush and scrub the area gently. The dried bits will loosen and be easily removed. Once this is done, wash the garment as per usual.
2. Breast Milk
Breastfeeding is a very intimate moment between mother and baby, and most mothers breastfeed, but this unfortunately leads to staining. Breast milk baby clothes stains are another type of stain that is common to babies and with which most mothers struggle, as it does not only stain the baby’s clothes, but also the mother’s.
It is important to remember that strong chemicals can be bad for baby and the fragrance in some detergents can cause baby to break into a rash, so be very circumspect as to what detergents you use.
There are various methods of getting rid of breast milk stains:
- Pre-Treat with Detergent – pour a little baby-safe detergent directly on the stain and scrub the stain using an old toothbrush. Rinse the article in the temperature water that is recommended by the detergent manufacturer, and then wash as per normal.
- Stain Removers – there are specific stain removers made especially for baby clothes stains, which are not harsh for either the material or baby’s skin. Apply the stain-remover as per manufacturer’s instructions, wash the garment normally and use a steam iron on it. There are some really good steam irons listed here, in case you wanted to have a look.
- Natural Stain Removers – many parents prefer to use natural products around their infants, and the two most common household products that are used to remove stains, including breast milk stains are baking soda and club soda. Sprinkle the baking soda on the stain, pour club soda on it and let sit for about a minute, gently scrub with a toothbrush and wash as per normal.
3. Baby Food Stains
There is never a time that baby gets messier than feeding-time, no matter how hard you try to get the food into his or her mouth. Bibs, cloths, serviettes, napkins, you name it come into play, but somehow or other baby will always end up with baby clothes stains from formula, fresh veggies and bottled baby food.
Start by blotting excess food and liquid using a white paper towel or cloth or scraping dried food off with a spoon, metal spatula or butter knife, taking care to not damage the clothing. Do not use a dark towel as it may stain the clothing worse, and do not excessively rub the stain as it may make it worse.
Once all excess has been removed, pre-soak the clothing in a baby-safe detergent, preferably a liquid detergent, in cold water for a minimum of twenty minutes and then wash in cold water.
If the baby clothes stains are still visible, treat them with a pre-wash stain remover after first testing the stain remover on a hidden section of the clothing, then wash again as before.
4. Baby Poop Stains
This is one of those baby clothes stains that really cannot be avoided no matter how much you try, and if baby has an upset stomach it can really create terrible stains. Mothers everywhere often sit with their hands in their hair trying to figure out how to remove the stains so that they do not have to toss the clothing out.
You might want to don a pair of kitchen gloves (kept specifically for this purpose) if you are not comfortable getting poop on your hands. Dump any excess poop into the toilet, wipe the garment down with toilet paper and discard the paper in the toilet.
Fill a sink halfway with cold water and dump the clothing in it; pour a teaspoon or two, depending on the size of the stain, directly onto the stain and rub it in gently. Soak the clothing for at least thirty minutes, then rinse under cold water. Wash the soaked baby clothing in the washing machine on a cold cycle, adding an appropriate amount of baby-safe detergent.
Many mothers swear by this recipe:
1. Fill a large bucket with about a gallon of hot water and add a scoop of Oxy Clean
2. Add about a 1/4 cup of washing soda to the water
3. Add approximately a 1/4 cup of stain spray to the water
4. Allow items to soak for a day or two
5. Dump all the contents of the bucket into the washing machine, add baby-safe laundry detergent and wash on a warm water cycle
Removing Different Types Of Baby Clothes Stains
Apart from the above tips on removing baby clothes stains, there are some interesting remedies for removing particular types of stains that have been shared by mothers for generations:
- Protein Stains – including milk stains can be removed by pouring a small amount of an enzyme cleaner and a soft-bristled brush. The enzyme cleaner will digest the protein of the stain. If there is any remaining stain, spray some baby-safe stain remover on the spray. Wash as per normal.
- Oily or Greasy Stains – including creams, baby oils, and petroleum jellies, can be removed using cornstarch or talcum powder, which will absorb the oil. Sprinkle the powder onto the stain, leave for 15-20 minutes, brush or scrape it off, apply a combination pre-treater and wash as per normal.
- Fruits, Jams, Juices Veggies, and Berries – are difficult to remove, but not impossible. They can be removed by pre-treating using a mixture of one part vinegar to two parts water, applied directly to the stain with an eyedropper. Let it soak for about 10 minutes then apply a combination solvent and wash as per normal in your washing machine.
Advice & Warnings About Removing Baby Clothes Stains
There are a few cautions to bear in mind when removing stains from baby clothes, such as the type of detergent to use, what not to use, what to do and what not to do:
- Make sure that you test clothing items that are made from delicate fabric or are not colorfast before using harsh detergents or stain-removers on them
- Always use the recommended water temperature according to the manufacturer’s tag or you may shrink or damage the clothing
- Always launder clothing that has baby food stains separately from other garments, or the baby food that is broken up in the wash can cling to other clothing items
- Never mix stain removal products when treating baby clothes stains
- Avoid contact between cleaning products and your eyes and skin at all times
- Drying a stain will cause it to become permanent; never pres or iron stained clothing
- Do not use hot water to treat or wash baby clothes stains; according to the ISU Department of Foods and Consumer Sciences, stains from protein-based foods such as eggs and milk will set if washed in hot water
- Do not tumble dry baby’s clothing if the stain has not been completely removed after washing
Finally, if you are out and about and do not have access to a stain remover or pre-treater for baby clothes stains, use a bit of liquid soap to dab the spot, leave it to set on the mark, and wash immediately when you arrive home.