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How to Get Tough Stains Out of Your Child's Clothes

How to Get Tough Stains Out of Your Child's Clothes

As the mom of two young boys, I’ve become a walking, breathing, cleaning machine. Subsequently, I've become a defacto expert at the fine art of removing really tough stains. Just like the commercials!

If you believe everything you see on TV then a simple wash in the machine with some Tide will do the trick. (Sure. Whatever.)

For me, when it comes to really tough, what-the-fuck-did-you-get-into stains, there’s only one way I’ve found to truly and permanently remove them safely and effectively.

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Behold! One of Sam's favorite shirts. Okay if I'm being honest it's really one of my favorite shirts because I love the little whales and anchors – it was the theme of his baby shower, and the theme of his room, and the theme of his first birthday party, so...ya know, anything anchor/sea life-related and I go gaga for it.

It wasn’t always his shirt though. At one point it was his older brother's before being passed down to him. I share this shirt because this isn’t the first time it’s come home looking like this and I bet it won’t be the last.

 It's wrinkled because I threw it in the hamper in the laundry room (AKA where clothes go that don't get washed for a while!) 

It's wrinkled because I threw it in the hamper in the laundry room (AKA where clothes go that don't get washed for a while!) 

When Jack was younger I had a knack for timing this shirt to go to daycare when it would be spaghetti day at school. I think it happened maybe two or three months in a row until I finally got smart and consulted the lunch calendar before putting it on him for the day.

It was almost a given that if he wore this shirt, then he was coming home with spaghetti stains. And yet every single time I was able to get them out using what I like to call the make-like-it-didn’t-happen method.

How to Tackle Those Tough Stains

You need three things to get down and dirty with your dirty, down in there stain. 

1) Oxy Clean Maximum Strength Gel Stick

Please note that while Oxy Clean is considered safe for babies and toddler's sensitive skin, the maximum strength gel stick does have an F from the EWG (Environmental Working Group) because of its environmental impact and risk for asthma

As with all my husband's and my parenting decisions, we tend to choose the middle of the road. I've tried other more environmentally friendly products, and while they work fine, they don't work this fine. Also, I don't tend to do this THAT often. Maybe once a month. (I save all the nasty shirts for one load. So it's not an all the time thing.) 

You’ll want to apply this generously all over the stain and any parts that were affected.

 Liberal application! It's kind of a stress relief to go to town on these stains, I gotta say. 

Liberal application! It's kind of a stress relief to go to town on these stains, I gotta say. 

Yes. The spray version is available and some people have success with it. I personally love that I can just rub that shit all over a shirt and really make sure it’s going to soak in. 

2) Oxy Clean Powder

Oxy Clean really does do a good job and using like products together ups the ante in my experience. While the stain stick gets an F, Oxy Clean gets an A.  This article explains that hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient and that it's pretty safe for young children and their sensitive skin. 

I actually sprinkle this directly over the clothes, bypassing the detergent dispenser because I like to live dangerously and I don't have many other excuses to break rules these days. 

3) Your Favorite Regular Detergent

Whatever you use for a normal load is fine. Use your washing machine as instructed (because sometimes I do like to follow the rules) plus one extra step:

Before you wash the clothes, soak them. I’m lucky that we have a “soak” function built into our machine but if you don’t, a quick 30 min soak in the bathroom sink should do the trick.

Nine times out of ten the stain will be gone when you pull it out of the wash. If it’s still there, (as in the case of the first round of spaghetti stains) repeat the entire process. I’ve never had to do this more than twice for one stain, and I swear the shirt looks brand new.

 All Clean! 

All Clean! 

I’ve also accidentally dried this shirt only to realize there was a lingering stain. I just spun it through the whole process again and voila! This shirt is ready just in time for spaghetti day at school again!

Leave a comment with your favorite fixes for getting stains out below

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