Soak clothes in cold water
It’s best to soak the offending garment as soon as possible as the most important thing is that the stain does not dry. Bear in mind that once dried it becomes very tricky to remove. Therefore, use cold water straight away because hot water will seal the stain instead of loosening it.
One easy way to do this is to always have a sealed bucket of cold, soapy water in the house. There’s no harm in being prepared! When the accident occurs, just throw your little one’s clothes in the bucket and then you don’t have to worry about cleaning it until you’ve got some spare time. However, avoid soaking woollens or bright colours for too long.
Pre-treat the stain
Most stains benefit from a little bit of help prior to going in the washing machine. Simply rub some washing liquid into the stain and let it soak in for a few hours. You can also use a paste treatment for this, using washing powder. There are also some great stain-removal sticks and sprays out there for the stains you really think are going to stick.
Top tips for specific stains
There are certain methods that will help to remove different types of stains. These are worth a try if a normal wash isn’t enough.
- Protein based stains (breast milk, most foods, leaky nappies and sick): you’ll need an enzyme based cleaner which will digest the proteins, which are widely available in supermarkets – just check the label.
- Fruit and vegetable stains: Create a mixture of vinegar and water (one part vinegar, two parts water) and apply this to the stain using an eyedropper or something similar.
- Oily stains: these kinds of stains benefit from applying talcum powder before washing to soak up any excess oil.
One of the simplest and most satisfying ways to remove a lingering stain is exposing it to sunlight; this is great, and a cost-free way to solve the problem. Direct sunlight acts as bleach, which over time will remove any stain.
Frost will also remove a stain from white clothing in the same way cold water will, so that may be one to try on a winter’ day.
If your baby’s clothes are white, there are some more extreme measures I’ve heard of mothers taking. For example, you could try boiling the clothes in dye remover or washing the clothes with a diluted bleach. If you opt for the latter, you should always wash it again afterwards with normal washing powder as residual bleach could irritate the skin.
As well as this, I would only try this with cotton; wool and other fabrics need extra care. For some people this is the answer to everything, although I would only try this as a last resort due to its harshness on the garments and skin!
Don’t worry, that stained top will soon be two sizes too small!
As much as it is important to keep your little one clean and looking their best, try not to worry too much if a stain is near impossible to remove. Your baby will outgrow it soon anyway so why not use stained items as play clothes for when you know an afternoon is going to be messy, or re-use them as rags for around the house?
It’s worth remembering that most stains will disappear if soaked in cold water, washed and then hung outside for a day in the sunshine.
When it comes to cleanliness, you can’t stop babies from being babies but you can make your own job a lot easier. The less time you spend washing their clothes, the more time you have with your little one.
Do you have any tips that you’d like to share?
Jessica is a blogger who is interested in lifestyle and culture. She writes for Wipe Easy Tablecloths, a God send to mothers of messy toddlers everywhere!