6 Tips for Getting Food Stains Out of Your Toddler’s Clothes

It took me over five years of trying to meet my son, Zachary.

I used to walk through the aisles of stores and stare at all of the adorable baby things and wonder when it would be my turn to put those in my basket and walk out of the store with a tiny person to dress. Once I found out that my pregnancy was going to stick, I admittedly went a little wild buying all of the tiny baby clothing and accessories—so cute, so complicated to wrangle their bodies into, and yes, so expensive.

My husband looked at one of our onesies when Zach was about 6 months old and asked if it was made of gold for that price. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Baby clothes aren’t cheap, and you want to make sure they can last and be handed down to future kids. From the beginning, baby laundry and stains were a huge issue in our home. Zach had horrible reflux, and I was exclusively pumping. We had milk and baby puke stains on everything.

My mom always taught me the importance of taking care of your things, and I hope that I can teach Zach to appreciate this as well. A big part of keeping his clothing fresh-looking is working to keep his clothes stain-free. I try to stick to doing his laundry no more than three times per week, ideally two. I created a system when the reflux began that has morphed to tackle the plethora of brightly colored food stains that now grace all of the surfaces of my home. Here’s what I’ve learned.


1. Keep your stain spray in the nursery

I keep my beloved OxiClean Baby Stain Remover Spray in Zach’s nursery right next to his hamper. If he stains something really badly, I take it off of him right away and spray it and put it in the hamper. I then spray it again before it goes into the washing machine. I find this really helpful because as I change his clothes I can treat the stains right away. When you are throwing a load in the machine, you will never remember what had a stain and what didn’t. 

2. Always add OxiClean powder to the machine drum for an extra boost

I mix the OxiClean Baby Stain Remover Spray with OxiClean White Revive, and I always see great results. For super tough stains (like a bad blowout or a crazy colored food), I will do a pre-wash soak for up to six hours of the OxiClean Baby Stain Soaker and water in a bucket. Pour the soap in and fill the tub with water. Let it dissolve and then add the items to soak. 

3. For really stuck-on stains, hit the stain with a mix of stain spot treatments

After I have sprayed and rubbed the stain with the baby remover, I will add a couple of sprays with serious adult stain remover. My go-to adult stain removers are these two:

4. If a stain doesn’t come out, don’t dry the item

I check all of the stained items before putting them in the dryer or hanging them up to dry. If the stain is still there but has diminished, I know I can get it out. I start the whole spot treat, soak, wash process from the beginning. If your washing machine has any sort of steam cycle, I highly suggest that! It has worked on some serious stains I thought would never come out. 


5. Know when to give up

If you have washed the same item more than three times and have stopped seeing any sort of improvement, call it. In order to find a way to not be wasteful and throw the clothing out, you can either dye the items (fun craft project!) or cut them into household rags. If the stains are not too offensive (blowout stains, I’m looking at you here), keep using it.  


6. If the mess reaches upholstery, reach for the Bac-Out

Bac-Out from Biokleen has long been my go-to stain remover for around the house. I have three dogs, so I am no stranger to awful messes of many varieties. Did your toddler fling pureed sweet potato onto your couch? No problem, Bac-Out’s got you! Wipe off the excess stain, saturate the area, and then let fully penetrate and then blot the stain away.

I occasionally have to do this multiple times. Depending on the fabric, you need to scrub the area with a hard-bristled brush, but it has never let me down. 

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