How to Remove Stains from Kids' Clothes

Use these handy stain-removing tips to clean stains out of kids' clothes.


Kids get dirty. It's a fact of life. These tips will help you fight the common stains they bring home. Use these smart techniques to get their clothing fresh and sparkling clean so you're proud to send them out into the world to get dirty all over again.

Baby Food Stains

Presoak the stained garment in cold water and liquid laundry detergent. Machine-wash in warm water or according to label directions. If the stain still remains, apply a prewash stain remover or liquid detergent to the area, then machine-wash.

Blood

If the blood stain is fresh, soak the garment immediately in cold water, then machine-wash. If the blood stain has already dried, pretreat or soak the garment in warm water and an enzyme detergent. Machine-wash as usual. If the stain remains, use a bleach product safe for the fabric.

Chalk

Shake out loose pieces of chalk. Place the stained side of the fabric down on several layers of clean white paper towels. Using a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol, blot the back of the stain, then rinse. If the stain remains, rub liquid dish soap into it, let it sit for several minutes, and machine-wash.

Chocolate

Scrape off as much chocolate as you can. Pretreat or prewash the garment in warm water with a product containing enzymes, or use a prewash stain remover on the area. Machine-wash as usual. If the stain remains, rewash with a bleach product safe for the fabric.

Melted Crayon

Using a dull knife, scrape off as much of the crayon as you can. Place the item stain side down on clean white paper towels, then spray with WD-40. Let the garment sit for five minutes, then turn it over and spray it again. Rinse well, then rub liquid dish soap into the stained area and rinse a second time. Spray stain remover on any remaining discoloration and machine-wash as usual.

Felt-Tip Marker

Dab dry-cleaning fluid on the stain with a sponge. Start with the outer edge of the stain and work in toward the center. Place the garment stain side down on several layers of clean white paper towels. Apply the cleaning fluid to another towel, then press it down on the fabric, forcing the liquid through the material. Rinse and machine-wash.

Fruit Juice

Soak the stained garment in cold water about 30 minutes. (Using hot water will set the stain.) Lightly apply white vinegar to the remaining stain and let sit for 30 machines. Machine-wash the garment with bleach safe for the fabric.

Grass

Get to this one as soon as you can, as the chlorophyll in grass makes the stain difficult to remove. Treat the stain with prewash spray first. Then machine-wash using an enzyme detergent and the hottest water that is safe for the fabric.

Glue and Stickers

Remove as much of the sticker or adhesive as possible with a dull knife. If some of the glue remains, apply a lubricant (such as glycerin). Scrape off any loosened residue. Rinse the fabric, then rub liquid dish soap into the remaining stain before machine washing.

Gum

Freeze the gum by rubbing an ice cube over it, then remove as much of it as possible with a dull knife. Apply a lubricant, such as glycerin, to loosen any remaining gum; scrape and rinse. Rub in liquid dish soap to remove any remaining stain, and machine-wash as usual.

Mustard

Pretreat the fabric with stain remover. Machine-wash with a bleach product that is safe for the fabric.

Nail Polish

Nail polish is one of those tough-to-beat stains. Don't try this method on acetate or triacetate fabric. Place the item stain side down on several layers of clean white paper towels. Apply nail polish remover to the back of the stain. Replace towels as they soak up the polish. Repeat if stain begins to lift. Rinse and machine-wash.

Paint

Water-base paint: If the paint is still wet, wipe off as much residue as you can with a paper towel. Rinse the fabric in warm water before machine-washing. Clothing with dried stains should be taken to a dry cleaner. Success depends on the paint formulation and the fabric.

Oil-base paint: If the paint-can label recommends a thinner, use that solvent for stain removal. If that information isn't available, apply turpentine, then rinse. Pretreat the fabric with a prewash stain remover, bar soap, or laundry detergent. Rinse, then machine-wash or take to a dry cleaner. Oil-base paint is harder to remove than water-base latex.

Feces

Deal with this stain as soon as possible. Scrape as much of the feces as possible directly into the toilet, then flush. Turn the garment inside out, then continue working in the toilet's clean, cold water while you rinse the fabric thoroughly. Pretreat the fabric in warm water and a laundry detergent containing enzymes, soaking for a minimum of 30 minutes. Machine-wash the stained garment in the hottest water possible for the fabric. Also use chlorine or color bleach, whichever is safest for the item. Repeat if necessary. Be sure to disinfect your washing machine before using it for other laundry.

Tomato Sauce

Apply a prewash stain remover or liquid laundry detergent to the stain. Machine-wash with a liquid laundry detergent, using bleach and water temperatures safe for the fabric.

 

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