Removing Food Stains from Baby's Clothing

Archived Q&A and Reviews

How to get stains out from baby food like sweet potatoes

Dec 2001

My five month old daughter has just started babyfood and of course with that comes a new problem with her laundry -- stain fighting! Does anyone have a good recommendation on what products to use on her clothing? How do i get out those sweet potato stains??!! I am still using dreft detergent. thanks, elizabeth

I think Zout is the best thing in my laundry room. I can get out even old set in stains in all colors. You can buy at the grocary store. Dana

use a spot stain remover like Shout or Zout. Both have worked for almost everything. I also have never used Dreft - I use Arm & Hammer and just recently bought All liquid since it doesn't have enzymes in it. Good luck - you might also put the babe in white as it can be bleached and save the nice stuff for after meals. Freyja

My mother in law told me about Casscade- the dishwasher detergent. It works GREAT, just buy the powder, make a paste with it, scrub it on, then wash it as normal. Works wonders... Also, I used to use Dreft, and found that it didn't work as well as other laundry soap. My pediatrician said that using a dye and perfume free soap would be just as good for the baby. Rachel

use plain old liquid Tide, unscented, on my laundry including the baby's clothes that are stained with sweet potato, green beans, etc. I don't pre-treat, and all the stains just come out in the wash. I think I remember reading that Tide and other laundry detergents have some special stain-removing quality built in. Ginger

I have had good luck pretreating stains with 'Spray and Wash' or 'Shout' as the clothes go into the hamper, then washing as usual. You can pretreat clothes up to seven days with either of these. ellen

Nature's Miracle really works well on this. It's marketed as a pet odor/stain remover. You can buy it in pet food stores. (Get the liquid form.) It contains an enzyme that breaks down proteins. I recently used it on week-old pomegranate juice stains--totally gone! -- Kellie

Zout works wonders (better than Shout in my experience). Use it BEFORE you wash the stained clothes though. Rub it in well, let it sit about 10 minutes, then wash in regular manner. For a really bad stain, I have soaked clothes in a pail of water after rubbing in Zout, and this worked well.

I found that the key to getting out baby food stains is to start to work on it before it dries. Put some soap on it, rub the stain to get the solids out and the soap into the cloth, and put it in a tub (with cold water) to soak until you do the laundry (in cold water). I found that once a stain is dry it is much more difficult to remove.

Other measures to deal with stains include dressing your child in clothes with dark colors or patterns, and not worrying about stains. Remember, a baby's clothes can be clean, even if they are stained. Suzanne

Getting food stains out of baby's clothing: I highly recommend a product called Zout. It works wonders on all stains. Also, you probably do not need to spend the money on Dreft. Since my baby was a newborn I have been using Arm & Hammer Detergent that is free of any perfumes etc. It is a powder in the large box and much more cost effective! Hope this helps. Melinda

I keep a plastic tub of water with a little Tide in it (Tide Free, available at Target most of the time) near the washer. All messy clothes go straight into this prewash tub as soon as possible. Sometimes they sit there for three days before washing. I don't do any scrubbing on spots at all, except for a few times when stains got set in. The only stain I have to treat differently is banana. Once the black splotches appear the only thing I have found that works is Oxiclean (available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond) rubbed directly into the spot. I don't think that is a recommended use method, but it has saved a couple of tops that I would have had to toss otherwise. Good luck! Kimberly

Here's the URL of a huge web site on stain removal, hope it's of use. . However, I think you might want to give up on the idea of stain-free clothes. We tried a lot of stuff, but some of those stubborn, under the chin stains just won't come out! Good luck, -michael s.

A different remedy for stains on clothing: For kid's clothing stains of all kinds I've used Burt's Bees Gardener's Hand Soap (they have a web site) to scrub the stain before regular washing. It has worked on almost everything, but like other remedies, it matters how long the stain has been on the clothing. Even after a day or two, however, it works well enough to fade out the stain so it is not obvious on the clothing. I still use shout, zout, biz and/or bleach pretreatment for situations where they will work or it is a large area of dirt, but scrubbing with the hand soap has always worked better for me for such things as colorful food or paint splotches. Susan

I try to rinse out her clothes when I take them off her at the end of the day. Then I spray a little Shout on the stained area. So far, everything - absolutely everything - has come out with this method. I really swear by Shout! Sarah

I never really learned how to do laundry until I had a baby, who is now 2. My mom always just threw everything in together (yes, my dad had pink underwear sometimes...). Note: I find no need to separate baby's wash from the rest of the family's, unless you have a newborn or a baby with skin issues, like allergies.

First separate colors from whites. Wash whites with about a cup of bleach; --I've found that most baby clothes that are white with pictures or patterns can be washed in bleach without the colors changing. Use HOT water to wash those, along with regular detergent, and add the bleach after the tub is full of water.

For colors, spray stains with Shout or Spray N Wash (big containers to refill spray bottles are cheap at Costco) as soon as possible after getting the stain, though, to be honest, I often don't do it til I wash the clothes...and use a regular dose of detergent with that load too (wash in cold or warm).

The only thing I have been unable to get out in the last 2 years is mildew, which occurs when you put wet or damp clothes in the hamper, and an indelible stain sets. I tossed out a few articles of clothing before figuring out what it was--now I let clothes dry flat or hanging before tossing in the hamper, or wash them promptly.

One other note-- if oil or other substances don't come out with the above methods, rewash using more Shout and hotter water--eventually all will be clean. Good luck! --Heidi

I have quite a bit of experience in working with stained clothes because I happen to work at Clorox in downtown Oakland. First, a good reference is the Tide website. They have a PDA download for stains which is helpful. Second, realize that it depends on what kind of stain it is -- different stain removers work well with different kind of stains. For example, something may work well with oily/greasy stains but not with berry juice. Generally, though, you can rely on 1) pretreating with a high-quality detergent like Tide 2) pretreating with a color safe bleach like Clorox 2 or Biz (the powders are much more effective than the liquids). 3) Use a pretreater like Shout or Spray n' Wash 4) For whites, nothing beats the stain removal power of bleach. I would recommend a thicker bleach we make called Clorox Advantage. It's thicker so it doesn't splash, it whitens better, it doesn't have a strong odor and it doesn't leave a residue. In general, pretreating does alot. Get one of those pretreating applicators that Tide sells (the tide Kick -- a resevoir with a roller ball applicator). Good luck! Bryant