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5 ways British mum's remove stains from kids clothes

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Stains are a huge pain for any parent! You find the cutest little tops, and then your children [seemingly on purpose] cover them in the messiest things they can find!

So, as a mother, I decided to make a list! I concentrated on the 5 types of stains or the places where stains affected me the most.

  1. Grass Stains
  2. Cuts and Grazes
  3. Ink Stains
  4. Out of the house
  5. At the Restaurant

My name is Beatrice and I live in Chelsea, London with my husband, Charles, and two kids Ethan and Oliver. I wake in the morning, dress the boys in their adorable little twill shirts, then hurry them out the door to their various activities.

I can honestly say I have finally accepted that boys will be boys, but as a mother, I just wish their charming little outfits would last longer than an afternoon in the park!

If they weren't dirtying their shirts by playing games, they would be spilling the jam from their scones or the juice from their cups. I just couldn't win!

To save the fortune I was spending each month [to replace their wardrobes], I turned to family and friends to create a list of super-hacks!

I have highlighted numbers 4 and 5 as these were the ones I found the most useful. Have a quick read-through and let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas, I would love to read them and test them all out!



Grass Stains

Photo Credit: Insider

Having two young sons, I seem to find grass stains everywhere! I also quickly realised that a standard cycle just didn't have the muscle to take on these dastardly, chino-hating foes... However, my quest did turn up a rather unlikely hero, toothpaste!

This little hack is courtesy of my mother. Simply apply a pea-sized amount of plain white toothpaste to a patch and start scrubbing! Just to note, on more than one occasion, she did reiterate to use the paste variety and not a gel. Else, there is a chance of discolouration - I feel she may have made that mistake before!

  1. Squeeze a small amount of the toothpaste onto the affected area.

  2. Dip your toothbrush into some clean [filtered] water. N.B, for best results, filtered water is preferred as you can ensure there aren't any other chemicals/hard metals being rubbed into the garment.

  3. Begin to gently brush the paste into the stained patch while gradually increasing pressure.

  4. Remember to stop and check the garment frequently to ensure you aren't applying too much pressure and damaging the fabric.

  5. Rinse the area, then run the clothing through a standard cycle as normal.

And there you have it, stain-free! Also, on a quick side note, I found this method really effective for pens, markers, and ink spots too!



Cuts and Grazes

Photo Credit: Family Education

Nothing quite compares to the heart-stopping, immobilising panic that rushes through you the moment you hear your baby cry out in pain. No matter how much we try (and believe me, I've tried) to wrap them in cotton wool; bumps, scrapes, and learning they aren't invincible are all unfortunate by-products of growing up.

Of course, cleaning stains out of clothes isn't the first thing on your mind when you hear your baby cry! However, once you have finally calmed down, remembered a grazed knee isn't life-threatening, and realise that your once unconsolable munchkin is now happily watching cartoons, you can try a few of these little hacks below!

  1. Soak the stain for approximately 60 seconds in a glass of antiseptic liquid (3% hydrogen peroxide works well). As soon as you see the bloodstain start to loosen, remove the fabric and gently scratch at the area with a butter knife (any dull blade would work).

  2. Rinse the shirt in more antiseptic peroxide and repeat the process until you are happy that the discoloration has been removed. Be very careful while scratching the fabric to ensure you don't damage the fibers.

  3. Once you are happy the stain is mostly removed. Run the garment through a standard wash cycle. For the best results, try and treat the affected area as soon as possible (before the blood dries into the fabric).

If you don't have any antiseptic solution, a clear fizzy pop like lemonade (7-up for my American friends) works well too! If the stain persists, try soaking overnight. In all instances, tend the injured child first!



Ink Stains

Photo Credit: Mom

No matter the colouring books, my little Picasso's most inspiring canvas was always themselves... I LOVE to encourage creativity, but leaving them alone with felt pens was where the [metaphorical] line was firmly drawn!

Thankfully, my boys are a little older now and have grown out of this phase! But still, I hope passing on these little nuggets of wisdom help save other adorable little outfits :)

Now, I had answers from nearly everyone I spoke to, all of which were completely different and worked to varying degrees. I'd suggest buying water-soluble felt tip markers that are chemical-free (Crayola being my preferred choice). BUT, if you are faced with the daunting task of a pen covered polo, here are the best solutions I found:

  1. For Biro pens (ball-points). Soak and transfer the ink onto an absorbent paper towel. Simply place a sheet underneath the area, and pour rubbing alcohol over the fabric. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, then dab/sponge the area until the ink has transferred to the paper. Larger stains may need to soak for up to 15 minutes. Rinse, apply a pre-treatment to the area, then wash on a warmer cycle.

  2. For felt-tip pens (markers). You should always buy water-soluble, but in case you haven't... Rinse the marked area in cold water. Then, pour some hot water and liquid soap into a bowl, drop the garment in, and gently rub the stain. Leave to soak for around 45 minutes (overnight for darker stains). Once it appears to be gone, lightly rub some detergent into the mark, and wash on a warm cycle.

These were the two most effective ways I found. However, I received a lot of feedback on this, I'm sure there are more out there!


Out of the House

Photo Credit: Good Housekeeping

OK, so this the BIG ONE (and I assume the reason why you started reading my list in the first place!). At home it's easy, I have wardrobes full of clothes and cleaning materials everywhere, but on-the-go stains are the hardest and [ultimately] the answer I REALLY wanted to know.

The problem was simple; I can't walk around with suitcases of spare clothes, stained t-shirts during dinner look positively awful, and wet patches where I've managed to half-clean them just don't look presentable. I was really hoping there was a quick fix-all solution...

If you are out in public, but NOT in a restaurant:

  1. Firstly, as with any emergency spill, you likely won't have any cleaning tools. BUT, water will always be readily available. Remember never to rub or scrub, this will only make the stain worse! If you have one, use a white cloth, wet both the stain and garment well, then dab with a very slight twist. This will pull the stain off the garment.

  2. If you are near a shop, sparkling water (Soda Water) or a clear fizzy pop like lemonade (7-up) works great; the bubbles and fizz in these drinks help to naturally break up the stain, then you can dab/blot the area clean. If your store sells natural, clear, fizzy lemonade, this is even better as the acidity in the lemon aids the bubbles more!

  3. To dry, I carry a small absorbant towel no bigger than a handkerchief (actually meant to dry your pets after a walk) but, these towels are incredible, they don't feel nice, but they are far more effective at drying, do so almost anything, instantly. You can get these from any good local pet store.

At the Restaurant

Photo Credit: Parents

If you are out in public and in a restaurant:

  1. White bread is really absorbent! The mix of the stain and water will naturally soak into the bread like a sponge and lift it more quickly off the garment.

  2. If your restaurant stain is oil-based (salad dressings or mayonnaise, etc.) these can be tackled with salt! Simply sprinkle some salt over the area and let the stain soak into the granules. Leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes, then brush/crush the salt off. The salt will absorb the oil, then you can spot-care the area after with water or bread!

  3. Head to the bathroom and dry off! They have an abundance of paper towels and very likely a dryer. The restaurant will also have staff who have seen this type of stain a thousand times. Ask them, they are sure to have lots of ideas!

  4. If your kids drop a meatball or spaghetti down their front, there is a really quick fix. Firstly, dab/blot the stain with a dry napkin, then apply cold water and dab again. Once most of the stain has been removed, go to the bathroom and run cool water through the back of the shirt and stain. A Lemon slice rubbed across the stain afterward should lift the remainder of the sauce out.

  5. If your kids have a sweet tooth, they will likely love their chocolate cake! If they miss their mouth in excitement, pour some cold water or sparkling water (club soda) over it. This will remove any fats from the desert allowing for you to then dab/blot the stain clean.



Photo Credit: Pinhole Press

Granted, none of the above really solves the issue of trying to keep two boys clean! Primarily; if it spills, don't scrub, just keep dabbing or blotting a well-soaked area, and where possible, apply room-temperature sparkling or soda water. The use of acidic citrus fruits (like lemon) is also a great stand-in cleaner when there are none at hand!

The alternative route is to change the actual clothes themselves. Essentially, wearing them for both style and function. A quick Google returns a big list of stain-proof clothing for adults and kids. From what I can find, it seems to be mainly used as a spray-on option for outdoor or extreme sporting equipment (similar to Gore-Tex) like walking boots, raincoats, or even spacesuits!

However, clothing brands do look like they are starting to take an interest. In the US, a company called, The Good Day Lab is making stain-proof clothing just for kids. Their stain-repellent is actually part of their shirt, if anything spills, it just bounces off. Once you've worn it, it just goes straight in the wash like a normal tee! It's great to see technology finally catching up with function. Instead of fixing it after, just prevent it!

If you have any other ideas of how to remove any pesky stains OR if you've tried any stain-proof clothing, I'd love to hear from you and get some feedback!

Stay safe, thank you for reading, and I look forward to reading all your cleaning tips in the comments!

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