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How to Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes: Life Hacks Uncovered

How to Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes Life Hacks Uncovered

Sometimes, stains can be stubborn and stick to your baby’s clothes no matter how often you throw them in the washing machine or scrub them with your own hands.

It’s a problem that most moms encounter, but there are a few ways you can get them out – many of them involving natural and easily-found household items.

Whether you’re washing baby pajamas, mittens, sun hats, onesies, socks, sleep sacks, or swaddle blankets, these tips and hacks will allow you to remove even the deepest stains.

Aside from removing the stains themselves, I’ll also give you a few tips on preventing stains from sticking and staining your baby’s clothes in the first place!

How to Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Here are a few tried-and-tested methods you can use to get stains out of baby clothes. The methods you choose will depend on what type of stain your baby’s clothes have.

Dealing With Old and Yellow Stains on Baby Clothes

Dealing With Old and Yellow Stains on Baby Clothes

Any old and yellow stains you see on your baby’s clothes are usually from the breastmilk or formula that spilled on them a long time ago and have since dried up.

These stains come from milk proteins stuck to the fabric even after multiple washes. Unfortunately, most washing methods alone won’t work on these stains.

You’ll need natural stain removers like white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide to take them out. Soak and brush the affected area with one of these liquids.

Afterward, wash the clothes as usual and leave them to dry in bright sunlight for a few hours. This will fully kill off any germs or bacteria that might remain.

Getting Breast Milk and Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Similar to how you’d remove old and yellow stains, newer milk and formula stains can also be removed by using white vinegar and soaking/brushing it for a few minutes.

I recommend an extra step – soaking the clothes in cold water for at least 15 minutes before soaking and brushing in natural stain removers. The longer you soak, the better.

This helps break down the carbohydrates and proteins in the formula or breastmilk that would otherwise stay and cause the old yellow stains I’ve previously discussed.

Washing Food Stains Away from Baby Clothes

Washing Food Stains Away from Baby Clothes

When introducing solid food, you will start to see food stains on your baby’s clothes, especially when they still lack the motor skills to control where the food is going. These are a bit harder to clean than formula and breastmilk stains.

If you’ve caught the stain right away, use wipes or alcohol and tissue paper to wipe the food particles/stains off their clothes. Rub on it until it disappears, and then soak the clothes in cold water.

Even if you didn’t catch it in time, you should still soak it in cold water but do so overnight. In the morning, apply one of the natural stain removers and rub/soak it for a few minutes.

If the stain is from chocolate, you should use liquid laundry detergent and dedicated laundry stain removers, as these are some of the most stubborn types of stains.

Removing Poop Stains on Baby Clothes

Removing Poop Stains on Baby Clothes

Poop stains are some of the inevitable, annoying stains you’ll encounter as a mom – and the key to minimizing them is catching them as soon as possible.

Smell is the number one way to tell that something’s wrong. If you’ve detected it, immediately change your baby’s clothes and assess the amount they’ve pooped.

To get the poop out of your baby’s clothes, use baby wipes to minimize the amount of solid and liquid waste, and then place the affected area under cold running water.

Afterward, soak the clothes in natural stain removers like vinegar for a few minutes, and then immediately wash them under hot water.

Extract Pee Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Extract Pee Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Pee stains are the other inevitable accident you’ll encounter. The way to get rid of them starts similarly to removing poop stains: using baby wipes or a brush to remove excess waste.

After you’ve removed the excess waste, pre-treat the affected area using baking soda or other natural stain removers. Then, rinse it before tossing it into the washing machine.

To ensure the fabric stays the same color, dry it under the sun for at least a few hours. This will also remove any bacteria or potential viruses left behind.

Getting Rid of Greasy Stains on Baby Clothes

Getting Rid of Greasy Stains on Baby Clothes

Greasy food stains, along with oils from petroleum jelly, baby oil, and skin creams, can create oily marks on clothes that can be annoying and difficult to remove.

Baby powder is your best friend in this case. Use a generous amount and rub it on the affected area, ensuring you rub any excess powder off once it’s absorbed the oil.

After most of it has been removed, leave some powder on the stain for around 10 minutes. Afterward, brush off any remaining particles, soak the clothes in natural stain removers, and then wash the clothes as normal.

Natural Ways to Remove Stains

Natural Ways to Remove Stains

You don’t need to use high-powered stain removers with many unknown chemicals on your baby’s clothes. There are many natural methods you can use to get the job done.

White Vinegar

This is a household item you’ll usually have on hand that’s effective at removing all kinds of stains – not just the ones on clothes.

It can deodorize, clean, and disinfect multiple fabrics without damaging them. Even tougher splotches like poop stains can be removed overnight if you leave them soaked in a vinegar solution.

For use with baby clothes, soak them in vinegar for at least 30 minutes. You can also wash the clothes with a half cup of vinegar and cold water instead of detergent.

Lemon Juice

This is another popular and natural way to remove stains that’s gentle and effective. Simply cut a lemon into half and squeeze it to extract all the juices into a container.

Then, soak the affected area with the stain in your juice for 10 minutes or until the stain starts to get lighter/disappear completely. The lemon juice acid will break down the stain molecules.

Once the solution has lightened the stain, you can then throw the clothes in the washer with cold water and either a baby-safe detergent or white vinegar.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful cleaner that is perfectly safe when used correctly. A three percent hydrogen peroxide solution is the best for use with baby clothes.

This is because it has antibacterial and antiviral properties and natural bleaching agents. It is capable of thoroughly cleaning harsher stains without damaging the clothes.

Use a three percent solution and soak your baby’s clothes in it for five minutes before washing. Be careful not to leave it for too long, as it might cause discoloration if the clothes have been left for too long.

Baking Soda

This is another accessible household item great for cleaning multiple surfaces and fabrics. However, baking soda is a powdery solid by default and not a liquid you can let your clothes soak in.

To convert the baking soda into a more liquid form, mix it with a bit of water until it becomes a thick paste. 

NOTE: Adding too much or too little baking soda, you’ll find that it won’t be able to clean your baby’s clothes effectively.

Once you’ve achieved the right consistency, completely envelop the stain with the paste and gently brush it using an old toothbrush. The slight abrasiveness works to break down the stain.

After you’ve scrubbed the baking soda enough, you should rinse it off thoroughly with cold water. Then, wash it as normal using either a washing machine or a hand wash.


A few hours under bright sunlight will kill all the remaining germs and bacteria on your baby’s clothes. This is something automatic dryers just can’t do.

Hang your baby’s clothes after trying the natural germ and stain removal methods I’ve listed above and washing them, and they’re sure to come out germ and bacteria-free, looking brighter and cleaner as a result.

Remember that drying it out in the sunlight isn’t a substitute for cleaning the clothes using vinegar or other natural methods. Access to sunlight is also inconsistent, as it might be rainy on some days.

Can I Use Oxygen Bleach and Laundry Boosters on Baby Clothes?

Some stains are so stubborn that the natural methods I’ve listed won’t work. This is where oxygen bleach, laundry boosters, and other heavy hitters come in.

Bleach is one of the strongest solutions you can use to make even the most persistent stains disappear. However, you should use it with caution. Some fabrics on baby clothes are very delicate.

Sensitive fabrics like those used on organic baby clothes can get damaged if you use regular bleach on them. Oxygen bleach is a good alternative that isn’t as harsh.

Adding borax, vinegar, or washing soda to your washing machine also helps to remove all the bacteria and viruses lurking on the stains, especially poop stains.

Other Tips and Tricks

Other Tips and Tricks

Besides using natural and more potent materials to help eliminate stains, I have a few more tips and tricks to make cleaning and avoiding stains much easier.

Wash the Stain as Soon as Possible

The best way to ensure a stain doesn’t persist is to take action as soon as possible. If your baby spilled milk over themselves or pooped their pants, remove it and get to work ASAP.

The key here is to remove as much of the material causing the stain as possible. This is the same whether it’s a milk spill, poop stain, or food particle that lands on their clothes.

This ensures that the liquids don’t seep into the fabric for too long and don’t dry up. For example, if you remove a food particle quickly enough, the grease won’t spread that much.

Wash the Stained Clothes Separately From Other Clothes

Besides not wanting your baby’s clothes to get contaminated, you’ll want to wash them separately because you might have to use different liquids/materials that are either more effective at removing stains or less abrasive on soft fabrics.

For example, if you’re washing the baby’s clothes with bleach, you’ll want to separate it from other clothes that are strictly not allowed to be washed with bleach.

Before using any liquid with your baby’s clothes, make sure to read the care instructions carefully. You don’t want the fabric getting damaged or shrinking in the washing machine.

Use a Higher Wash Temperature When Using Only Detergent 

Try using higher wash temperatures if you’re not adding bleach or other laundry boosters to your washing machine.

Higher wash temperatures kill more bacteria and viruses and penetrate the fabric a lot more than using lower wash temperatures.

Just make sure to check the washing instructions on the clothes to see how to wash the baby’s clothes most effectively. This is because some fabrics shrink when washed at high temperatures.

Use Other Fabrics to Catch Staining Liquids

There’s a lot of utility in getting burp cloths or baby bibs so that any milk spillage doesn’t drip your baby’s clothes. These are a lot easier to clean and don’t stain as easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

You might have more questions after learning more about natural and heavy-duty methods of taking stains out of baby clothes. Here are answers to the commonly asked ones:

What Causes Yellow Stains on Baby Clothes?

The number one culprit here is the milk proteins from the baby formula or breast milk you feed your baby. 

Even if the clothes are washed regularly, there’s still a chance that the proteins bond to the clothing and remain. Over time, the protein tends to turn yellow.

What Are the Common Sources of Stains on Baby Clothes?

The previously mentioned milk proteins are the most common source of stains on baby clothes. This is because they’re hard to detect and are only noticeable after a while.

Another common source of stains is food spillage, like greasy food spilling or chocolate stains. These stains will appear more, especially if your baby is a messy eater.

The third most common stain source is poop and pee stains. Unfortunately, this is par for the course, especially if you’re still in the process of potty training.

What Is the Best Stain Remover for Baby Clothes?

When it comes to being the easiest to find and most natural, either white vinegar or baking soda can serve as the best stain remover. They won’t damage clothes and are already found in your cabinet.

Alternatively, the most powerful stain remover is bleach, but you should be careful when using it as some fabrics may be damaged by it.

Can I Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes After Drying?

Yes, it’s possible if you consistently add things like baking soda and brush it before every succeeding wash. Putting it under sunlight also helps.

Some stains are too difficult for natural methods to break down, which is where tougher solutions like bleach come in.

Can I Use Dryer Sheets on Baby Clothes?

While you technically can use dryer sheets, I don’t recommend it. This is because some dryer sheets occasionally cause irritation in a baby’s skin.


Stains on baby clothes are one of the most annoying things to encounter and clean. However, using household items and the proper technique, you can get rid of them.

If those methods don’t work, bleach and laundry boosters can help remove the toughest stains. However, these should be used with caution on delicate fabrics.

Always wash your baby’s clothes thoroughly after using white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or other cleaning materials.

Sky Bustillo
Sky Bustillo

Hi, I’m Sky!
As a Filipina in her mid-20s, a sister to young ones, and a tita to my nieces and nephews, I somehow share the same sentiment as other parents. I have a growing aspiration of becoming a mom someday!
But there also comes a worry that you won’t be able to give the best to your children, especially with the food they eat, the products they use, and the new habits and hobbies we introduce to them.
Your kid’s safety and welfare are your top priority, that’s why I always make it to a point to learn from the stories and experiences of other moms.
It’s a delight to share what I learned and know to help the moms close to my heart, and this time, I’m writing to relay advice to you from the insights of other moms and my experience around kids, too.
I’d love to be a part of your journey, and I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful for you and your young one!