last moon

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Remove Stains from Baby Clothes

Whether you’re looking to get a bit more mileage out of a few favorite articles of clothing, passing along outgrown items to a friend or relative with a new baby, or trying to bring second-hand clothes back to serviceable condition, it doesn’t take too many forays into a restoration project to learn that babies can stain their clothes in impressive and persistent ways. Even infants, who seem to do little more than eat and sleep, can create messes in delicate clothes require series attention when it comes to removing them. The trick to removing most stains successfully is to treat each type of stain with the proper substances; these hints can help you restore your baby’s clothes to all of their adorable former glory.

  • Protein-Based Stains – Formula, breast milk, diaper leaks and spit-up stains are considered protein-based stains, and are fairly easy to remove. Enzyme cleaners and stain pre-treatments are recommended for protein based stains; applying them by rubbing with a soft-bristled brush is exceptionally effective. Because the enzymes digest the protein base of the stain, they’re particularly useful for such purposes. Soaking clothes in cold water after treating for a few hours before laundering boosts effectiveness even further, but be sure that all traces of the stain are removed before items are dried. Repeat the process if necessary.
  • Oil or Grease Stains – Solvent-based stain removal products and pre-treaters are the best option for greasy or oily stains; liquid dish soap is also effective. Work pre-treater or dish detergent into the stain and rub gently, then launder in the hottest water that is suitable for the fabric. Because oily stains tend to be particularly stubborn, you should always inspect the stained area before drying, and reapply solvents or detergents before washing a second time. Greasy stains that have been exposed to the heat of your dryer will almost always set, becoming all but impossible to remove completely. Before applying pre-treatments to oily stains left by diaper rash ointment, lotion, or petroleum jelly, douse the area liberally with cornstarch or baby powder. After the powder has set for fifteen to twenty minutes, briskly scrape or brush with a soft-bristled laundry brush. The cornstarch will absorb much of the oily base, making it easier for solvents to penetrate the remainder.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Stains – Berries, brightly colored fruits, and vegetables are all healthy choices for a baby’s diet as he graduates to solid foods; they can also, however, create some of the most stubborn food stains known to man. Removing these stains almost always requires immediate attention as well as the right pre-treating substance for the job. Enzyme and surfactant combination treatments typically work well, followed by soaking the garment in cold water and then laundering as usual. As with almost all other stains, be sure to reapply treatment as needed before drying to avoid setting the stain and making removal even more difficult.
  • Yellowing and Storage Discoloration Stains – Heirloom clothing like christening gowns and other antiques may be stored for years between uses, and also tend to be white or very lightly colored. Over time these pale fabrics can become yellowish and dingy; removing storage and age discoloration can be difficult, but is also a priority for garments that are intended to be worn on special days and for special occasions. To restore aging white clothing to a like-new gleam, it may be necessary to think outside of the box a bit. Oxygen cleaners are great commercial options, but denture tablets are also reported to work wonders on gentle fabrics. Mixing a half cup of white vinegar and a half cup of salt in a bucket of water, adding the garment, and stirring for at least thirty minutes is also an effective, if exhausting, method. Launder as you normally would, but be advised that delicate special occasion clothing may not hold up well to machine washing.
  • Blood Stains – No one wants to think of their baby’s clothing being stained by blood, but unfortunately learning to crawl and later to walk can be dangerous business. Enzyme cleaners are usually effective for blood stains, but peroxide tends to be a more effective method and has the added bonus of not resorting to harsh industrial chemicals. Dab the area with peroxide and allow it to set for a minute or so before soaking the garment in cold water, then toss in with the rest of your baby’s laundry.

Because your baby’s skin is so sensitive, it’s best to launder them in fragrance-free detergent that contains no dyes or potential allergens; it may not be necessary to opt for more expensive specialty brands, however. Gentle detergents marketed towards adults with allergies or skin sensitivity should do the job just as well.

 P.S. This post was  proposed to me for publication by Hannah Anderson. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information:

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