Who knew how messy kids could be? From the time you bring them home from the hospital to breastfeeding every two hours, starting solids and the never-ending “oops, sorry Mummy” (and the dreaded mess that comes after), our kids are total stain magnets! Sometimes, it feels as if we’ve spent half of motherhood screaming at our kids and the other half cleaning up after them. And since we can’t do anything about it, here’s the HoneyKids mum’s guide to stain removal by age group:
Newborn to six months
You know you’re a mum when you’ve become immune to poop. But what happens when you’re faced with a poo-nami that goes up and all over your bub and onto *gasp* their onesies? Our fave trick in the book is to soak those onesies in lukewarm water then spray lemon juice all over the spot and let it dry under the sun. If you’re fresh out of lemon juice, try some dishwashing liquid in warm water and soak that bad boy before you chuck it in the wash.
You’ll need to hit the chemist for some ammonia for this one. Once you’ve soaked the material in warm water, get a Q-tip and get dabbing! If you’re dealing with dry blood, not to worry. Add a bit of salt to the warm water and try the ammonia again.
When you’ve got a little one that’s still getting the hang of feeding, they’re bound to get vomit on you, on your couch and everywhere else if you aren’t careful. Our fave solution? Baking soda! Cover the stain with the white powdery stuff then wash it off with the rest of your laundry.
Yep, breastmilk, as wonderful as it is, can leave a not-so-wonderful yellow stain even if your favourite shirt has been through the wash. The fatty proteins in your breastmilk are actually what cause the yellow stains, so you’ll need a good dishwashing liquid that cuts through grease to remove it. Soak your clothes in a mixture of warm water and dishwashing liquid before you put them in the wash.
Blot the stain with a towel and warm water, adding a little bit of dishwashing soap as you go along. If the stain doesn’t go away after you’ve washed it with the rest of your laundry, try again with an enzyme-based laundry detergent to break down the formula’s protein.
Six months to 12 months
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Ah, welcome to the wonderful world of solids and a whole new group of fun stains to manage and get rid of. Berry stains may look intimidating, but they’re actually quite easy to remove. Rinse the article of clothing from the back and dab a bit of dishwashing liquid on the stain. When you’re done washing, leave good ol’ Mr Sun to do his work!
What kid doesn’t love pasta and bolognese sauce? Once the damage is done, scrape off as much as you can. Then, soak your garment in dishwashing soap and water then blot (don’t rub) the stain out. If this doesn’t work, add some distilled white vinegar to the stain!
Most littlies will tell you that nothing goes better with fresh fruit than spoonfuls of yoghurt. Unfortunately for us, yoghurt leaves stains. Rinse the stain thoroughly with cold water and use your favourite spot stain remover (we love Tide pens). Soak the garment in cool water with some dishwashing soap when you’re done. Psst… this works for ice-cream too!
The toddler years and beyond
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When bub is being good, it’s OK to give them a bit of chocolate. But beware of the stains! If it does happen, blot the stain to remove the excess, don’t rub. The more you rub it in, the deeper in the fabric the chocolate will bury itself. If you have soda water on hand (tap water works too), soak the back of the fabric with it. Doing this helps loosen the chocolate particles from the cloth. Dab a bit of laundry detergent on the stain and continue blotting with a wet cloth then launder as per normal.
Grass and mud
Although being in the great outdoors is all gravy, it also means getting tough-as-nails grass and mud stains on everything. Because both are protein and organic matter, you’ll need to soak the garment in cold water and borax first and keep the garment moist. Once grass and mud stains are dry, the harder it will be to remove them! Before laundering, opt for an enzyme-based detergent instead to thoroughly remove the stain.
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On skin: Does your little one love your tattoos as much as you do? Don’t panic if they’ve gotten permanent marker all over their skin. Just rub some olive oil where they’ve drawn on themselves and say goodbye to their new body art.
On cloth: Get yourself some rubbing alcohol and start dabbing! As per usual, don’t rub it in – you’ll make it worse! Contain yourself and just dab until the stain goes away.
On walls: Toothpaste, yup toothpaste, will be your best friend for this stain. Use white toothpaste (not the gel kind) and cover the stain liberally. Once you’ve got it covered, soak a small rag with warm water and get dabbing.
Although it’s great for sensory play, it’s not the easiest thing to remove from fabric, especially if it’s dried up. Scrape off as much of the dried playdough as you can (a toothbrush is great for this), then soak the garment in cold water and dishwashing liquid for 30 minutes. Next, apply more dishwashing soap to the stain and then launder as per normal.
By now, you should be the master of the soak and dab. After you’ve scraped the excess paint off, mix dishwashing soap with some warm water and soak the garment in your mixture. Gently dab at the stain then rinse and repeat as needed.
Create a paste of 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water. Blot the stain and then cover it with your baking soda and water paste. Leave it for a few minutes (the longer, the better) then chuck your garment in the laundry.
Kids love anything bright and colourful – and if you’ve started on a slime or playdough project, the chances of getting food colouring stains on their skin is very likely. Use an old washcloth to dab at the stains and wipe away as much of the food colouring as you can. Soak another washcloth with white vinegar and start gently rubbing over the stained areas – trust us, they’ll regret the day the started playing with food colouring!
If your little Picasso has left you with another surprise on your wall, slather their work of art with some mayonnaise and let it sit for a few minutes. Using a toothbrush (an old one – not hubby’s), go to town and scrub away!
Little ones love their stickers so you’re bound to find them everywhere. Although they may be relatively easy to remove, getting rid of the residue can be one tough mother. Our trick? Spraying a little WD-40 on the residue and letting it sit for a few minutes. This should loosen up the sticky bits and make it easier to scrape clean.
Using a paper towel, blot the stain and remove as much of the coffee as you can. Run the garment under cold water and rub at the leftover stain. Add some baking soda or dishwashing liquid to the stain and leave it for a few minutes. Rinse off the baking soda and dishwashing liquid and rub at the stain. Repeat.
Happy hour a bit too happy? Not to worry. Simply cover the stain with some salt then steam the garment with a handheld steamer. For white wine, just run under cold water, add dishwashing liquid to the stain, rinse and repeat.
Spot treat with some rubbing alcohol and blot with a wet paper towel. If you’re trying to remove a lipstick stain, hairspray works wonders! Simply spray the stain then use baby wipes to remove the sticky residue. Woo hoo!
Remember, when it comes to stain removal, persistence is key, people! And more importantly, preparation is key. By having all these stain-removing tips in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to take on anything. You’ve got this!
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