Ask the Experts: Stain removal
Keeping your babe clean is important, but a newborn’s skin […]
Keeping your babe clean is important, but a newborn’s skin is sensitive, so you want to cleanse with care. We talked to laundry expert Mary Leverette of About Laundry to learn how to safely tackle the most common stains new mamas face.
Proteins (breast milk, formula, most food stains and spit-up) need to be rinsed or soaked in cold water as soon as possible. Remove any solid matter with a dull knife, and then flush with cold water. Next, pretreat the stained area with an enzyme-based stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty detergent (dye-free).
If the stain remains, it’s time to use an oxygen-based bleach, like Oxi-Clean. (Oxygen-based bleach is safe to use on all washable fabrics except silk and wool and is safe for both white and colored clothes.) Mix a solution of the bleach and cool water following package directions. Completely submerge the stained item, and let it soak for at least two hours (and up to overnight) then wash as usual.
Grease stains include baby oil, creams or petroleum jelly. You’ll need to use an enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty detergent and hot water. Work the stain remover into the stained area, then let it sit for 15 minutes and use hot water for washing. If it can’t be washed in hot (check the care instructions), just apply hot water to the stained area using a soft-bristled brush, then wash in warm water.
Leaky diaper stains should be treated like a protein. If urine is the problem, pretreat with a tablespoon of ammonia combined with at least 1 cup of water. Follow with a combination solvent and wash as usual. (Important: Never mix any product containing chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar—it’s toxic!)
All in all
An expert tip from Leverette? “With a new baby, it isn’t always possible to wash stained clothes and linens right away. Invest in a large bucket and fill it with cool water and 1 cup baking soda. This will keep down odor and prevent stains from drying (which makes them harder to remove) until you have time to treat them!” Remember to always check stained areas before drying clothes and retreat if necessary—high heat from the dryer can set stains and make them very difficult to remove.