How To Clean Most Common Kid Stains On Clothing

How To Clean Most Common Kid Stains On Clothing

October 21, 2020

Kids Are Messy - How Do We Clean Their Clothes?

Chances are you've bought your children a cute outfit, blanket, or maybe even a new couch, only to find that it has been destroyed within a matter of minutes. Food stains, bodily fluids, or worse, something sticky, has become ingrained into the fibers of the fabric, threatening to spread itself all over your house, carpet, or pets. We've put together a list of common types of messes and stains, and included ways how to clean them so you don't have to toss the couch or burn the shirt.


What You Should Keep Stocked:

  • White vinegar
  • Club soda
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Baking soda, cornstarch, salt
  • Prewash stain remover, stain removal gel
  • Dish detergent, laundry detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)

These household items are inexpensive and can be used in combination to clean almost any type of textile, fabric, or clothing.


Spot Cleaning Vs. Deep Cleaning

The quicker you can spot and start treating a mess or a stain, the better. It's important not to scrub the stain, as that can cause it to spread or bleed. The better option is to wet it with warm water and dab at it with a clean washcloth from the outside in. If you have something to pretreat the stain with that will help break down the enzymes, then let it soak following the product directions. Once you spot clean, don't just chuck the item into the washing machine. Rinse it first with warm water. You can repeat this process twice if the stain is particularly stubborn.


Types Of Stains And How To Fight Them

Children have a knack for getting into all kinds of messy situations. The major culprits are listed below, but always double check the garment tags for washing instructions so that you don't accidentally discolor or shred the fabric.

Grass Stains

Rolling around in the grass, being covered in green streaks is a favorite past time of kids of all ages. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar, and spray the stained area of the fabric and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Gently rub out the stain, from the outside in. If the stain has set in, spot check an inconspicuous part of the fabric with rubbing alcohol before soaking the stain with the alcohol. Rinse the item with warm water before adding it to your washing machine.


Mud Stains

Similar to the grass stain, mud stains mean that your kid was having a blast outside. Remove any excess dirt or sludgy mud by dabbing (or flaking it off). Don't scrub it or it will spread. You can pretreat the stain or soak the item in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Wash the item apart from the other clothes in your washing machine.


Food Stains

All of the different types, textures, and colors of food make this category particularly broad, so we will break down some of the most common types of food stains.

Condiments: If you can, use cold water right away to stop the condiments from saturating the fabric. If not, give the item a soak in equal parts water and vinegar for at least 10 minutes. If that doesn't work, add baking soda to the stain and scrub it in with a small brush and add vinegar. Rub from the outside of the stain to the inside, soak it in cold water for 15-30 minutes, and add it to your next load of laundry.

Butter / Oil / Grease: Work liquid dish soap into the stain, rubbing in small circles from the outside in. Rinse in hot water. Repeat this process as many times as you have to before you put this item into the washing machine. If you dry the garment before you remove the entire stain, it may set in permanently.

Tomato Sauce: Carefully take or scrape off any solid bits, but avoid dragging them elsewhere onto the garment or they will create another stain. Soak the item in cold water for 5 minutes before gently scrubbing the stain with a small brush and copious amounts of laundry detergent. Rinse with cold water. If the stain still persists, spot check an inconspicuous part of the garment with hydrogen peroxide before soaking the stain with it. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with cold water.

Gum: This pesky treat is a super sticky, get-everywhere-in-the-house mess. If you can, put the garment in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. If the item is too large or you meal prep like a boss and have no space, you can apply an ice cube or ice pack to the gum and let it freeze up. Don't let the ice cube melt and add water into the mix, you want the gum to be dry and cold so you can just peel it off.

Berries / Fruits: The best remedy for a berry or fruit stain is to turn the item inside out and pour boiling water over the stain (watch your hands please!). Make sure that you have the fabric stretched tightly so there are no creases or wrinkles and the water hits the stain evenly. Let the item airdry and then soak the stain in white vinegar for 15-30 minutes. Rinse the fabric with warm water before throwing it into the washing machine.

Peanut Butter: On most fabrics, a pretreatment spot remover usually does the trick. For really stubborn peanut butter stains, you can use acetone. Spot check an inconspicuous part of the garment before blotting the stain with an acetone soaked sponge. Do this until all of the peanut butter has been absorbed. Rinse immediately with warm water and pat dry.

Coffee: While we hope that your kids aren't drinking coffee, chances are you have spilled coffee while juggling a baby in your arms, making breakfast and packing lunches, or whatever other hectic events happen in your household. Coffee is easily cleaned by soaking the stain with club soda for 10 minutes, and then using a clean rag to blot until it is gone. Similarly, we've been told that beer works just as well.

Red Wine: Like the coffee, we know that adult beverages are just as easy to topple over as kids romp through the house. Maybe we could use sippy cups. For a red wine stain, stretch the fabric over a large mixing bowl or over the sink, making sure it is taut. Cover the stain in table salt, gently rubbing it into the stain with your fingers. Pour boiling water (watch your hands please!) over the fabric. Rinse the fabric in the boiling water, mixing it with a wooden spoon. Then wash the item on the hottest setting your washing machine has to offer.


Bodily Fluids

Whether they come from your kids, your pets, or even you, chances are your clothing, carpets, or couches can become covered in bodily fluids from one end or the other. Health and safety are the most important things, so before you ever treat the stain, always make sure that the culprit is safe, healthy, and their injury is tended to.

Blood: Blood stains are best treated with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Soak the stain for 5-10 minutes before gently scrubbing with a small brush from the outside of the stain in. Dab with a clean cloth. Repeat the process until it's almost completely gone. Soak the item in cold water, and gently scrub the stain with dish soap. Rinse in cold water before putting it into the washing machine.

Vomit: First, remove any solids or chunks from the item, carefully avoiding spreading it further. Dampen the area with warm water and apply a liberal amount of baking soda to the stain so that it is about 1/4 inch thick. Pour white vinegar over the stain, and gently rub it in with a small brush from the outside of the stain to the inside. Rinse the item with warm water, and then wash as normal.

Urine: Soak the items overnight in equal parts white vinegar and water. Run the items through the washing machine like normal, but don't use laundry detergent, and add a cup of white vinegar instead. Once the cycle is complete, run the same load again, this time with no vinegar, and add your normal amount of laundry detergent.

Feces: Carefully scrape off solid material, carefully avoiding spreading it further. Soak for 15 minutes in warm water with dishwashing soap. Gently rub or scrub the fabric from the outside in and rinse with warm water. Soak another 15 minutes in the water and soap mixture, adding a small amount of vinegar. Rinse with warm water and wash in the machine as normal. If the stain persists, try a small amount of bleach mixed with water.


What To Do If You Really Can't Get The Stain Out

Sometimes, we're unable to get a stain out. You have a few options:

  • Reuse the item as a cleaning rag
  • Donate the item to a pet shelter for bedding
  • Salvage the unstained material for arts and craft projects
  • Recycle it at a textile recycling center - ask your local Salvation Army or Goodwill


We hope that this list helps you with those big messes. What other sorts of stains do you encounter in your busy life as a parent? Comment below and let us know if you have any other genius cleaning hacks!

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