How To Get Food Stains Out Of Your Child's Clothing

Priyanka Elhence
·5-min read
Stained shirt
Stained shirt
Photo: 123RF

Wouldn’t it be nice if dinner actually stayed on the plate instead of ending up on your child’s clean clothes? There’s a good chance you’ve lost many beloved outfits to food stains over the years.

But imagine if you could enjoy the blotches and stains as much as your little bubba, knowing that there was an easy way to get the clothes clean again, no matter what.

Home-cleaning the stains is not only cheaper than going to a drycleaner or going shopping, but it’s also satisfying to know exactly what you are using to clean your child’s clothes – no fancy chemicals or cleaners here, so it’s safe for your child.

Surprisingly, dishwashing liquid and a simple bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitiser have a lot of cleaning muscle to tackle those stubborn stains that never seem to want to leave clothes.

Try this little test - place a drop of oil on a plate, and smear it around. Now add a drop of dishwashing liquid. See how it starts to break up the grease? In a nutshell, the idea is to break up the grease and hold it suspended in a water solution until it can be flushed down the drain.

Now that you know the science, follow these simple steps for getting the most common food stains out of your child’s clothes:

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Milk

1. Fresh protein stains must be removed by soaking and rubbing the stain in cold water before washing. Milk stains contain other ingredients but protein needs treatment first. Never use hot water on milk because it cooks the protein, making the stain hard to remove.

2. If the stain is dried or old, scrape off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water using a liquid detergent.

3. Soak for 30 minutes and launder in warm water.

4. If stain remains, soak for an additional 30 minutes and wash again.

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Baby Food

1. Scrape off as much of the food as possible before it dries up.

2. Pre-treat the fabric with a vinegar solution (mix one part vinegar and two parts water) and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes (please note that dried stains may require soaking for a few hours).

3. Wash as normal and air dry (do not use the dryer as the heat may permanently set the stain residue).

4. Repeat the process as needed.

5. For stubborn stains, spot rub the stain with a few drops of an alcohol-based solution (hand sanitiser).

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Chocolate

1. Remove excess chocolate from the fabric using a dull knife or a spoon.

2. Using cold water, rinse the back of the stained area (this allows the stain to travel back through the least amount of fabric possible, therefore limiting the stain).

3. Gently rub in liquid detergent into the chocolate stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

4. Soak clothes in cold water for 15 minutes rub the stained area every 3-5 minutes to loosen the stain. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat as required.

5. Sometimes due to the fat in cocoa butter, a faint oil stain may develop, so ensure that the stain is completely gone before drying. Rub liquid dish soap into the stain and wash in hot water.

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Ketchup

1. Remove the excess ketchup from the fabric using a dull knife or the back of a spoon.

2. Run cold water through the back of the stain as quickly as possible to force the stain back out through the fabric, rather than pusher it in deeper from the front.

3. Gently rub liquid detergent into the stain in a circular motion beginning on the outside and working inwards, to minimize the stain spreading.

4. For white clothes, use a mild bleaching agent such as white vinegar, lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide. Rinse well.

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Oil and Butter

1. Sprinkle flour, talcum powder, corn starch or an artificial sweetener on both sides of the stain and let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Shake off the powder - the stain should be faded or gone.

3. Rub in some dishwashing liquid and rinse under hot water. Repeat as needed.

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Tomato-based Sauces (spaghetti sauce, marinara sauce, bbq sauce, pizza sauce and salsa)

1. Never use hot water to treat tomato-based stains as heat sets tomato stains permanently. Soak the stain in cold water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.

2. Soak for at least half an hour and rub the spot to help release any lingering discoloration. Rinse. Repeat as needed.

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Jams & Jellies

1. Scrape away excess fruit using a dull knife or a spoon. Dried fruit stains will often have seeds or bits of fruit that are still stuck to the fabric. Removing these will make it easier to get rid of the stain.

2. Form a thick paste using 3 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of water. Layer the paste over the stained area and allow to dry for at least 15 minutes. Rinse in lukewarm water.

3. Rub several drops of detergent onto the stain and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse in hot water.

4. If the stain persists, use a mild bleaching agent (lemon juice or white vinegar) to remove the stain. Sponge solution onto the stained area and leave out in the sun for 10-15 mins. Rinse as normal.

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