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How To Remove Common Stains From Kids' Clothing

  • The Hate Stains Co.
  • 6 min read

Getting stains out of children's clothing is an ongoing challenge. Many parents find themselves struggling to figure out how to handle even common stains. An effective stain remover can make a huge difference, but knowing how to remove common stains--and how to handle stubborn stains when they try to stick--can help you keep your kids' clothes looking their best. 

Types of Common Stains

Chances are, if you have kids, you have stains. Kids often struggle to keep their clothes neat and clean--and sometimes, it seems like they're most likely to dive into a mud puddle or enjoy a messy chocolate sundae in the clothes you most want them to keep tidy. Here are some of the most common stain types:

  • Blood
  • Vomit
  • Poop
  • Baby spit-up
  • Marker
  • Paint
  • Tomato sauce or ketchup
  • Chocolate
  • Fruit juice
  • Grass
  • Mud

Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to help remove those stains from your kids' clothes and get them looking their best again.

kid with chalk stains on pants from being outside

How to Remove Common Stains from Kids' Clothes

Exactly how to remove common stains from kids' clothes may depend on the type of stain: what works for blood may not necessarily work as well for mud. 

Step One: Pretreat ASAP

When possible, pretreat stained kids' clothes as soon as possible. Don't wait until the stain has set in, especially if you only take care of the washing once or twice a week. Using stain wipes as soon as you notice a stain can help prevent those stains from getting set in and creating a massive problem. 

Next, follow the steps for removing the specific stain you're struggling with on your kids' clothes. 

baby wearing a bib to prevent stains on there clothing at the kitchen table

How to Remove Common Stains: Biological Stains

Biological stains are a fact of life with kids. Removing them starts with an effective stain remover, but it may not end there. You may need to apply some careful treatment to those stains. 

Blood

For blood, try blotting with hydrogen peroxide. Avoid rubbing, since that could spread the stain. Make sure you spot test on a small corner of the fabric before you use it on a larger portion.

Poop

Young children and babies often have poop accidents--and those accidents can spell disaster for their clothes. To remove poop stains, make sure that you:

  • Remove any poop left on the item. You may want to wipe it away or rinse in the toilet. 
  • Rinse the item well.
  • Soak the item in warm water. 
  • Apply stain remover before washing. 
  • Wash as usual.
  • Check the stain before the item goes in the dryer. If it's not clean, try some peroxide or reapply your stain remover. 

Vomit

Vomit stains can be a real problem for parents--especially for those middle-of-the-night wakeup calls. Fortunately, you can often remove vomit from stained items, including kids' clothes and bedding. 

  • Remove any excess vomit. You may want to scrape it into the toilet, shake the item off outside, or simply scrape it up and throw it away.
  • Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch over the area. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. 
  • Throw away, shake off, or vacuum up cornstarch, depending on the size of the item. 
  • Pretreat with your favorite stain remover. 
  • Wash. 
  • Check the stain before you put the item in the dryer. If your item is still stained, try using a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and a tablespoon of white vinegar mixed in warm water.

child with chocolate stains on shirt from eating ice-cream

How to Remove Common Stains: Food Stains

Some kids are naturally messy eaters. Others struggle with spills. Knowing how to remove common food stains from kids' clothes can help set you up for clean clothes that are much more likely to stand the test of time. 

Ketchup or Tomato Sauce

Tomato stains can feel impossible to get out, especially if you weren't expecting them. Whether your child was enjoying a slice of pizza or a serving of fries with ketchup, that moment when the sauce falls to their clothing feels incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, you can get it out. 

  • Carefully scrape off the tomato sauce, trying to avoid spreading the stain.
  • Rinse the garment from the inside, flushing the stain away. 
  • Use a stain remover wipe or spray with your stain treatment spray as soon as possible. 
  • Blot carefully, avoiding scrubbing if possible.
  • Rinse. 
  • Repeat the spray, blot, and rinse technique. 
  • Wash normally with your preferred stain remover, then check the stain after you take it out. 

Chocolate

Carefully scrape away the chocolate left on your kids' clothes, especially if melted chocolate has solidified. Then, treat with a stain remover. Rub the stain remover carefully into the garment with your fingers or a toothbrush. Rinse. Add more stain remover, then wash as normal. Again, check the stain after it comes out of the washer to ensure that it's clean.

Fruit Juice

If you have a fruit juice stain on clothing, particularly white clothing, it can permanently discolor the garment. Fortunately, you can get it out! First, soak the fabric in cold water for at least half an hour. Then, sponge your preferred stain remover on the stain. Allow it to sit, then wash normally. 

girl who caused mud stains on carpet from dirty shoes

How to Remove Common Stains: Outdoor Stains

Playing outside is a lot of fun, but it can lead to some serious stains on your kids' clothes. Try these strategies for getting rid of those familiar stains. 

Mud

How well mud comes out of kids' clothes may depend on the type of mud and the type of fabric. Getting out red mud can be a real challenge--but it's worth the effort! 

First, wait for the mud to dry, then brush off any solids outdoors. Then, pretreat with your preferred stain remover. Wash as usual. In some cases, you may want to put the wet, washed garment out in the sun to dry to help sun away the stains. 

Grass

To remove tough grass stains, first, mix two parts vinegar to one part water. Allow the stain to soak for a few hours or overnight. Then, dab with your stain remover and wash. 

toddler with marker stains on his pants

How to Remove Common Stains: Art Stains

Kids enjoy making artwork, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't leave a mess behind! Try these strategies for getting art stains out of kids' clothes. 

Paint

Try to remove paint stains while the garment is still wet: spraying with your preferred stain remover and scrubbing clean, then rinsing well. If you have dried paint stains, spray the stain down, then blot carefully with rubbing alcohol before scrubbing the stain away.

Marker

Place the affected clothing face down on clean paper towels or a white rag. Dab with rubbing alcohol and sponge carefully from the opposite side. This can help transfer the ink to the paper towels or rag beneath. Continue blotting until the stain is very light, then rinse. Add your favorite stain remover and wash. This strategy can also help remove ink stains!

baby has food stains on clothes from eating at table with no bib

How to Get Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Getting stains out of baby clothes can be tricky. Sometimes, with spit-up stains, you may not even realize that the garment didn't come clean in the wash until some time has passed. Then, you pull out your favorite baby clothes to pass them on to the next little one, only to discover yellowed stains around the collar. 

What now? 

When you know how to get stains out of baby clothes, you can keep those clothes clean and nice-looking for the next little one more easily. 

  • Soak the garment in a warm water and detergent mix.
  • Pre-treat with your favorite baby stain remover. 
  • Wash as usual.
  • Hang the garment in the sun to dry. The sun will help combat many of those spit-up stains--and may even help get out set-in stains in clothes that have been stored. Hanging in the sun can also help combat stains from those inevitable diaper blowouts. 
  • Check the garment after sunning. If it's still stained, repeat this process to help draw out those stubborn stains. 

Get in the habit of checking baby clothes after you wash them--and particularly before you pack them away. If you notice any stains, treat them early to help cut down on stubborn stains later.

child playing in the dirt with dirt stains all over his pants

What About Getting Stains Out of Children's Clothes?

Sometimes, you may need to remove tough, stubborn stains from children's clothes--including clothes that have already been through the laundry at least once. Fortunately, you can often still get out those tough stains.

  • Pretreat with your preferred stain remover. 
  • Allow the garment to soak in a two parts vinegar to one part water mixture, or mix a couple of tablespoons of detergent into a bucket of water. 
  • Scrub at the stain with a scrub brush.
  • Wash normally. Check the stain before it goes into the dryer again and repeat as needed.

Final Thoughts About How To Remove Common Stains From Kids' Clothing

As a parent, you know that stains and spills on kids' clothes are somewhat inevitable. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can use to reduce stains and keep your kids' clothes, bedding, and more looking their best. Start with a great stain remover that will help pull out those tough stains, then make sure you're treating stains as soon as possible, and watch your kids' clothes start looking better than ever!

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