Good As New

How to Get Stains Out of Stored Baby Clothes #layette #stainremoval

Since April is just around the corner, I’ve been feeling the itch to get our new baby’s layette ready. I had been bugging my husband to bring in the boxes of baby clothes we had stored in the barn, and Superdad finally hauled the 9 boxes up (NINE? Yes, I was surprised too, and it turns out nearly half were filled with blankets!)

So the first thing I did was tear into each box and did a quick sort of what to keep, donate and trash. I was pretty brutal with my sorting and a lot of things ended up in the donate/trash piles even though I’m sure I did a donate/trash sort BEFORE boxing all these things up. I have a little bit of a hoarding tendency that I have to fight when I’m trying to get rid of things; I guess having them out of sight for a few years made it easier now to let stuff go.

I’m always amazed and slightly vexed by the ugly yellow stains that magically appear on clean baby clothes after being in storage. Always around the collar or diaper area — where drool, milk and other bodily fluids are prevalent. Although nearly all my favorite items were covered in these yellow stains, I am happy to report that after a bit of effort in the laundry room, the clothes I’ve decided to keep for our new little one are looking almost as good as new.

If you’re getting ready for a new baby too, here is the process I used for getting those unsightly yellow stains out of stored baby clothes:

:: First, I divided the clothes into two loads by size; one load for 0-3 months items and another for 3-6 months.

:: Put the first load into the washer with two scoops of Oxi Clean (I buy the big tub from Costco and swear if it weren’t for this stuff every item of clothing my kids have would be ruined) and a small amount of laundry detergent. I let the agitator run for about 5 minutes and then let the load soak overnight.

:: In the morning I poured white vinegar into the fabric softener compartment on my machine. Vinegar is helpful during the rinse/spin cycle to break down excess detergent that might “stick” and create residue on the clothes. If your washer doesn’t have a fabric softener compartment you can get a fabric softener ball to throw into your wash — it automatically dispenses at the right time. Since these clothes will be going next to sensitive baby skin, I also set my washer for a second rinse cycle to make sure everything rinsed out nice and clean.

:: Once the washer was done, I transferred the clothes to the dryer but as I did so I checked each piece to make sure the yellow spots were gone. The soak and wash worked really well but there were a few pieces that still had spots. I kept those items out of the dryer (for fear of setting the stains), and applied spot stain removers and then rewashed. I also let these items hang out on the clothes line as the sun is supposed to help fade the spots.

I then repeated the above process with my second, 3-6 months load.

Now most of the stored baby clothes should be ready for new baby to wear, and whatever didn’t come clean enough can be added to the toss/donate piles. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’ll probably go splurge on one pretty new baby outfit that you’ve been eying for a while, to reward yourself for all the hard work in the laundry room.

96 thoughts on “Good As New”

  1. Thanks for the tips! I just pulled out a bunch of clothes to give to a new little baby, and half of what I had packed had stains. I know that I packed them clean. Now I know what to do!

  2. To be able to get the rest of those stains out make up a mixture of your Oxi-Clean and water. Lay those clothes out in the sun and spray them with your mixture until they are nice and damp, really focusing on the stains. Go back out every couple of hours and spray them again (each time they get dry.) Normally within the day all of the stains will be gone, though sometimes it may take another day or two.. The sun really is the best stain buster their is out there (that’s how most of us cloth diapering mama’s get poo stains out of diapers!)
    This process can be done without the Oxi-Clean, too, I just like to add that extra boost. ;)

    • Hey! I saw you’re a cloth mama too! Nice to meet ya!! I’m just wondering if Oxi-Clean is safe enough for cloth diapers?? I’ve wanted to try, but I’m afraid of ruining them!! I do love the sun tho!

    • Dissolve the OxyClean in a little bit of hot water, then fill it up the rest of the way with cold. Hot water helps to dissolve the OxyClean, but it can set your stains.

  3. Great tips! Weird question…where is that grey striped with pink outfit from (or maybe just the brand)? Someone else I knew had that outfit and I can’t find it anywhere!! Thanks!

  4. Great post, but another thing that works great on those set in yellow stains that won’t seem to come out is Ivory bar soap. It takes elbow grease to rub this stuff in, but it’s a miracle worker. It’s my most used laundry item when I have babies (great for poop stains too!)

  5. Just tried this out on a bunch of baby clothes and bibs I pulled out of the attic. I was worried that since I don’t have a long-time soak option on my washer that the stains wouldn’t come out (it just soaks for about 30 minutes or so). I followed the other directions and stuck the stuff that was still stained after being washed out in the sun for a couple of hours. Worked like a charm. I think I have one bib that can’t be salvaged, but everything else looks clean and fresh. Thanks a lot; I’m going to be sharing this on my blog!

  6. I’ve been doing a calo candle wicking coat blanket for some time it’s one off those things ive picked up and put down over the years and it has gone yellow now that my daughter is pregent with her first baby I would love to finishes it do you think you solution would work with this i would love to finish it and give it to her. I don’t have the heart to throw it away as I have put a lot of work into it

  7. OxyClean soak is great on baby poop stains….even after they’ve been sitting in the laundry basket for a week. I just soak the poopy clothes in a bucket with about 3 gallons of water and a couple scoops of OxyClean….let it soak for about 3-4 hours and then toss in the washer with the rest of the laundry and wash as usual.
    Also, Shout Advanced is awesome on set-in stains. I dug out a dress I wore 30 years ago for my baby girl….it was a stained-up mess! But Shout Advanced got it all out!

  8. I’ve used half & half blue dawn soap & peroxide. I spray it on a stain before washing & found the sun gets everything else out.
    Oily stains are my problem area though.

    • I had a pile of stained clothes that was starting to take over the laundry room. Clothes I had tried EVERYTHING on but the stains remained. Seriously-this pile was growing over two years, with 4 kids staining clothes faster than I could clean them.
      My recent miracle cure: mix dawn detergent (I use environmentally friendly soap from costco and it works fine), baking soda, and peroxide. I use an old soft toothbrush to apply to the stains. Let sit a short while than launder. I literally started crying as piece after piece FINALLY came out clean. I had just a few that still remained and I tried the sun for that. I also had some baby clothes that had the mysterious storage-stains on them, and this mixture worked on them as well.
      Dish soap (either mixed as above or by itself) works fantastic on any oil stain. Since you can’t see the oil stain if the clothes are wet, I let them air dry after washing to make sure the oil stain is out. If you have a fabric softener stain, rub an ivory soap bar on it, than launder again.

      • I kept reading, looking for a comment like this. My husband and I have been using peroxide and baking soda for a long time now. We have 7 people in the house (including him and myself) and it has saved us a FORTUNE!!! We also make our own laundry detergent, and I swear, it works better than anything you can buy that is already made.

        Here’s the recipe:
        3 Tbsp Borax
        3 Tbsp arm & hammer WASHING soda
        2 Tbsp BLUE dawn dish soap. Name brand.

        Take the powders, dissolve in 4 cups HOT water, until completely dissolved. Pour into a 1 gallon container (we used milk jugs for a long time, but have since moved to gallon juice containers since they’re more heavy duty plastic), add the dawn and SWIRL! DO NOT SHAKE!!! This will only make it suds up, which defeats the purpose of adding the dawn. Fill up the rest of the container with COLD water, until suds run out the top. Use half a cup per load of laundry. My husband and I were both die hard Tide users, until we found this. Haven’t looked back. AND, it hasn’t bothered anyone in my house as far as allergies go. Everyone has sensitive skin and NO ONE has had any issues with it. The kicker, is that, for all three ingredients, it cost us LESS than ONE bottle of Tide. Give it a try! :)

    • Sounds crazy, but I use Simple Green on the grease stains. Works every time!!! (It is a degreaser and all!)

  9. I have three kids and my son is the messiest by far. I get a lot of stained hand me downs and it darn near killed me when I thought I would never get some very set in stains out of his shirts. But I will swear by this. I use oxyclean but not on a regular basis because of its bleaching action I found the clothes have faded. But the perfect stain remover is this: one part dawn soap and two parts peroxide. Mix and spray on the stain. I scrub it in and leave it in there over night. The stain is gone!!!! Then proceede to wash. I use it in multi color clothes and not once did it bleach. Be careful to mix in small amounts or store in a dark container because peroxide will loose its mojo once exposed to light. I have thrown out my other stain stick stuff and will never go back. Saved my life.

  10. i have to say a huge THANK YOU for posting this. i just got out clothes that my daughter wore when she had horrible reflux 5 years ago, that have been stored in a hot hot AZ garage for all those years and tried this method…and i could not be more pleased! amazing!!! this has saved me so much money and headache knowing that our baby girl who will be here in about 6 weeks will have enough clothes to wear without having to buy all new ones!!! thanks for such great advice!!!

  11. I found a “recipe” that I used quite successfully. Oxi-cleaner, dish soap, and borax in HOT HOT water and soak 24 hrs. Works wonders on those pesky bacon splatters too!

  12. Does the sunning of stains work in the midwest humid weather? Often it doesn’t feel like the sun is strong enough out here in Missouri especially during fall and winter.

  13. When my daughter was a baby, I kept a small plastic bucket in the laundry room sink with cold water and Biz in it.every garment went in there to soak before it was washed. No diaper stains, as I used disposables. No stains remained, ever–she is 33 years old now.

  14. How would you do it for a front loading washer without the agitator? Just soak in a bucket overnight then wash?

  15. Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing. So I’ve heard oxy clean bonds with iron and will make stains due to iron worse. Sincd we struggle so badly with that I was wondering if I should use it. Know anything about that?

  16. just wondering if it works on regular stains that shout won’t get out .i have clothes we are still using that i can’t get the stains out and i dont want to throw them if i can figure it out first

    • You could try some of these ideas, but I’m not sure how it would work. The yellow stains on stored baby clothes are kind of a strange type if stain because they are not there when you put the clothes away — the clean looking clothes come out of storage all yellowed and stained and these methods work well for removing those particular types of stains.

  17. Any ideas on getting dye from other items off… ?I have baby clothes that are either dingy from the darker colors in the wash and many with the not so nice tide dye effect from a pesky red Santa onesie! Hope you can help me save my baby wardrobe :)

  18. So glad I saw this. My best friend is having a baby and she asked me to save clothes from my baby and of course I did. She’s having a girl too! I will need to check on the clothes because when I packed them away they were clean too. I wonder if I’ll have stains pop up that weren’t there when I packed them away.

  19. If you have white clothes, try this, apply stain stick; like shout, let set 24 hours, then soak in automatic dish soap for dishwasher for 24 hours in a bucket or dishpan. Then pour all into washer machine and wash as usual. Check out how bright and stain free they are!

  20. I have a High Efficiency washing machine, therefore, I cannot let it agitate and soak over night. Do you think it would work if I hand agitated it in a laundry tub & let it soak overnight and then run it through the wash and do the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser and whatnot ? I have a new baby coming at the end of March/beginning of April & it is far too yucky out in Ohio to soak clothes in the sun at the moment. Thank you for all of these tips.

  21. When the repairman was fixing my washer he said that Oxy Clean is hard on your washer. For soaking overnight, I recommend a bucket or a dishpan. Also a lanolin based cleaner like Goop is great for the oily stains. I think they were from breast milk.

  22. Oh, how funny! I am just starting a load of yellow stained baby items. There were no yellow stains when I put them away! Will have to try the vinegar. Thanks!!

  23. Baby oxiclean works even better and safer for sensitive skin and cloth diapers! You can find it at babies r us. I use the powder form in every load if wash and then use the spray/pretreat for any stubborn stains. Be careful not to use oxiclean on sunscreen stains if you have high iron in your water though. It will only make the stains more yellow/orange.

  24. I just tried this method and it didn’t work for me :( I have tried everything to get out stains made from my son and I just can’t find anything that works. I don’t know why it did t work for me :( I really want to get all the stains out from his clothes!

  25. Awesome tips! Is there a particular laundry detergent that you use on the baby close? With my first we used drift because he would break out with any other detergent, but that can be kind of expensive especially with the amount of washing for a newborn. I was wondering what you would recommend. Have you tried the free and clear of any brand?

    • I have used both tide and all free and clear types-I can’t say whether all works well or not(I was always using it on towels with bleach) but tide works fine. My mother in law always buys it since I have babies-I just use regular tide. Anyway, it was powder and seems to work fine if you’ve pretreated tough stains. The lack of smell is frustrating to me because I want to smell that they are “clean” and can’t with free and clear. I realize I have been no help;)

  26. Thanks for the tips! I have also found that dissolving a finish dishwasher tablet and scrubbing the spots and then soaking the clothes in hot water for a few minutes removes the stains almost immediately. It has saved so many of my baby’s clothes!

  27. These are great tips, but I just have one problem – why would you donate something that is stained? I mean, this is just a guess, but I think the recipient of any donated items would not like to wear stained clothes.

  28. I actually do a similar process with stained clothes as well. We don’t have a washer & dryer at home, so I soak all the stained clothes in Oxi clean & some detergent over night. Anything that has a small stain on it gens hung on the line and stain sprayed with Shout Advanced. I haven’t tried the vinegar though.

  29. I have a lot of stained, handmade sweaters..knitted..will this work in the washing machine as well on them..and I will block to try of course. They have been washed in the past and the stains may be really “set” after several decades of being packed away. Any thoughts?

  30. This works wonderfully! I brought out my sons infant clothes that have been stored for 3 years and was upset to find so many of them with these stains. I just completed my first load using these suggestions and the clothes look brand new! There are only two things that need a little extra attention. Thanks for sharing!

  31. I use dawn dish liquid for all of my stains. It always works like a charm. I just pulled out my sons baby clothes from six years ago, and I too had all of the yellow stains. I decided to add some peroxide with the Dawn and just like magic the stains were gone after only one wash! I did have two outfits that required a little extra attention. I had never tried putting anything out in the sun before, but I figured it definitely couldn’t hurt. I sprayed the stains with a mixture of dawn and peroxide and after only about a half an hour outside those stains were gone too! Thanks for all the information!!

  32. I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading incredibly slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?

    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  33. Thank you for your tips. I just opened 3 boxes of baby and children’s clothes that have been stored for 25+ years. We have a new grand baby and another coming this fall. I have found many pieces with yellow stains and with red/brown spots all over the fronts and backs. Do you have any ideas on removing the red brown spots?

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