Baby clothes with their tiny stripes and ruffles are the cutest! But nothing ruins a romper faster than a stain you can’t lift off. Throwing away a favorite bib or sleeper is heart-wrenching. Plus, if you’re planning on having more than one child, reusing clothes that already have a short shelf life is a huge cost saver. Luckily most baby stains are organic so learning how to get a stain out of baby clothes just takes a little elbow grease and a dash of know-how.
We get it — babies spit up, drool, and wipe their hands on their clothes, creating stains that can be a challenge to remove. But we also know how sensitive a baby’s tender skin can be and how traditional detergents and stain removers can irritate it. Whenever possible, it’s best to clean and remove stains from baby clothes without using harsh chemicals found in commercial products.
Before we get started learning how to remove stains from baby clothes, you’ll want to gather your natural stain-fighting weapons. Here are a few all-natural, eco-friendly, and safe alternatives to typical clothes detergents and stain treatments for cleaning baby clothes, mattresses, and more.
Natural Stain Removers You Can Use for Baby Clothes
Before pre-treating or scrubbing any stain, be sure to remove as much solid matter as possible — i.e., peas, carrots, poop. Don’t let the stain sit. If you don’t have time to treat it right away, start soaking it in cold water until you can give it your full attention. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the stain before soaking, making sure not to press too hard as to ruin the fabric.
The best stain remover for baby clothes is one that is safe, natural, and effective. Lucky for you, several common household ingredients meet that criteria. For most stains on baby clothes, these DIY stain removers should cover all the bases, and you probably already have them handy.
Distilled White Vinegar
White vinegar is about as natural as you can get and of the most versatile eco-friendly cleaners available. Vinegar can clean, disinfect, and deodorize all around the house, and it’s one heck of a stain remover. For most stains on baby clothes, soak the stain with undiluted white vinegar and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Wash the stained clothes in cold water with a half cup of vinegar instead of detergent.
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Lemon juice is a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, and cleaner ideal for powerfully removing stains, gently. Cut a lemon in half, soak the stained area with plenty of lemon juice, and wait about 10 minutes. The acid in the juice will break down the stain and even give a whitening boost. Throw the stained clothing in the washer and wash with cold water and a baby-safe detergent or a half cup of white vinegar.
Baking soda is fantastic for cooking, of course, but it’s also a natural deodorizer, cleaner, and baby clothes stain remover. If the stain has dried, dampen it slightly with cold water. Mix baking soda and enough water to make a thick paste. Smother the stain with the paste and rub it in gently. The slight abrasiveness of baking soda will scrub the fabric fibers and break down the stain. Wash the stained baby clothes like you normally would with a gentle cleaner.
Hydrogen peroxide is a safe but powerful cleaner with antibacterial and antiviral properties. Because it’s also a natural bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide can remove most stains easily without harming fabrics. While hydrogen peroxide is much safer than chlorine bleach, be careful not to leave it for too long, or it could discolor the clothes. Use a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution to dampen the stain and let it sit for five minutes. Rinse the stained area with cold water and wash the baby clothes immediately with a mild detergent or vinegar.
One of the best natural stain removers and whiteners is right outside your door. A couple of hours in bright sunlight can help kill germs, make stains less visible, and even whiten fabrics. While you shouldn’t substitute sunbathing for washing, putting stained baby clothes out in the sun after a machine or hand wash can also help prevent yellowing.
How to Get Milk Stains Out of Baby Clothes
Milk stains on baby clothes are par for the course, but they don’t have to become permanent or discolor fabrics. The best treatment for protein-based baby stains like breast milk is to use an enzyme-based cleaner. Enzymes digest the proteins in the stain to help break it down. After soaking the article of clothing, spray the cleaner, completely covering the stain. Rub the cleaner in and then allow it to work for a couple of minutes or however long the manufacturer recommends. Wash in the warmest water possible for the fabric.
How to Get Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes
For set formula stains or fresh ones you can’t treat right away, submerge the stained baby clothes in a bucket of cold water and a cup of white vinegar. Submerge the stained items and let them soak until you can throw them in the washer. Baking soda is safe and natural, so you can easily let baby clothes soak for a day or more without an issue.
When tackling fresh formula stains on baby clothes, first pretreat and soak the garment in cold water for at least 15 minutes. Because baby formula contains proteins, supplements, carbohydrates, and other ingredients, the longer you let the clothing soak the better. After soaking, make a paste with baking soda and water, rub it into the stain with your fingers, then wash the clothing as you usually do.
How to Get Food Stains Out of Baby Clothes
Carrots, sweet potatoes, and peas can all leave a seemingly permanent stain on your baby’s clothes. If possible, allow the garment to soak overnight in cold water to really loosen the stain. Apply one of the natural stain removers directly to the stain. Rub the pre-treater in and let it sit for a minute or two. Wash the item as normal, and repeat the process if needed. Then hang the baby clothes to dry only when the stain is removed.
If you find chocolate stains on your baby clothes, you may need a little more firepower like liquid laundry detergent instead of one of the natural options.
How to Get Poop Stains Out of Baby Clothes
Like spit-up and food stains, poop stains are inevitable if you have a baby. If you notice the poop stains when you’re changing your baby, congratulations — you’ve contained the damage. If not, we wish you luck and arm you with our proven method for getting poop stains out.
Start with baby wipes to minimize the amount of poop, then rinse the clothing thoroughly with cold water. Use your natural stain remover of choice and wash the stained item in hot water immediately.
How to Get Greasy Stains Out of Baby Clothes
Baby oil, petroleum jelly, and creams can leave oily marks on clothes, diapers, and baby toys. Add in greasy food stains, and you could find yourself up against some formidable stains. To fight greasy baby stains, just grab that container of baby powder and get to work. Blot as much of the product off of the garment as possible, then sprinkle baby powder on the stain to absorb the oils. Let the powder soak up the greasy stain for 10 minutes and brush off the remainder. Apply a natural stain remover to pretreat the stain, then wash as usual.
How to Get a Stain Out of Baby Clothes Using Oxygen Bleach and Laundry Boosters
Sometimes figuring out how to get a stain out of baby clothes means using a little more muscle. Bleach is the ultimate weapon for removing stubborn or downright unsanitary stains, but it should be used with caution. Delicate baby clothes may not be able to withstand the harshness of bleach or traditional washing methods, so clean them with oxygen bleach instead. Always check the garment’s laundering label and test a spot inside a hem to see how the bleach will react to the fabric. Color-safe bleach is a good option as well.
Natural laundry supplies (you know the kind your grandma had) can help boost your machine’s cleaning power. Borax, washing soda, and vinegar all boost your detergent’s cleaning power and have excellent softening and degreasing properties. And adding Borax to your poop stain pre-soak helps eliminate bacteria lurking in the stain.
Let The Maids Manage Your Mess
Despite the fact you now know how to remove stains from baby clothes, chances are you’re so busy with feedings, diapers, and giving cuddles that you probably don’t have time for much else. Savor these precious moments with your baby and let The Maids pick up the cleaning slack with our wide range of house cleaning services. Our professional cleaning teams can swoop in and tackle the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedrooms before you can say, “Is it nap time yet?”
Get your free online estimate today and learn how The Maids can make your home a cleaner and healthier place for you and your baby. And if you want to learn how to make all your housekeeping challenges more manageable, check out our library of other helpful how-tos.