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Baby Stains 101: A Guide to Cleaning Your Little One’s Big Messes

Baby Stains 101: A Guide to Cleaning Your Little One’s Big Messes

Having a baby is all about discovering new things: You're actually pretty great at assembling a crib. You can get by on two hours of sleep after all. Love at first sight really is a thing, because you've been totally smitten ever since you first laid eyes on this tiny human.

Of course, you also get to discover just how big a mess that adorable little person can make. Clothes, bibs, bedding, toys, rugs, even the furniture…nothing is spared. And tackling tough stains while you're in a sleep-deprived haze is nobody's idea of a good time.

At Heritage Park, we get it (we have kids, too). That's why we developed our Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent: a hypoallergenic, plant-based laundry detergent that's effective on stains while being safe, gentle and non-irritating to baby's skin. Its concentrated, five-enzyme formula is pH neutral to protect sensitive skin, scent-free, and dermatologist tested. Heritage Park Baby and Laundry Detergent contains no harsh chemicals: it's made without sulfates, phosphates, chlorine, bleach, optical brighteners, synthetic fragrance, or dye. Safe for even newborn skin!

We recommend using Heritage Park Baby and Laundry Detergent for the first wash of new baby clothes and linen; for regular laundering of clothing, bedding, bibs and toys; and for pre-treating stains. It can even be used to spot treat carpets and upholstery. (Always follow directions on the manufacturer's care label before using any cleaning product.) Read on to learn more about how this versatile detergent can help you handle common baby and toddler stains.

Five Common Baby Stains and How to Treat Them

Set Up A Soaking Station in Your Bathroom or Laundry

The first step to stain-fighting success with a baby or toddler is to make things easy on yourself. You've probably got your hands full -- literally -- almost every waking moment. We recommend setting up a “soaking station” in your bathroom or laundry to keep everything you need to pre-treat stains conveniently within reach. Consider stocking the following items:

  • Two soaking tubs (one exclusively for diaper stains which may require extra sanitizing). These need not be fancy; a utility bucket from a home improvement store works perfectly well
  • A baby-safe, enzyme based laundry detergent like Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Detergent
  • An empty spray bottle to make a concentrated enzyme-based, pre-treatment spray with water and the baby detergent (1 to 1 ratio) and/or a commercial enzyme-based stain spray (look for one that is non-irritating)
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Oxygen bleach powder
  • Chlorine bleach liquid
  • Disposable plastic knives

Five Common Baby Stains and How to Treat Them

Stain removal is not a one size fits all set of guidelines, particularly when it comes to babies, who have sensitive skin and tend to make their own special brand of stains. In every case, however, it's best to act quickly and plan to soak. The goal is always to get the stain/smell out of the fabric using the gentlest treatment possible; in some cases (diaper stains, for example) stronger products and hot water washes may be needed to properly sanitize.

1. Spit Up

Whether it's on a burp cloth, bib, baby's clothes or your shoulder, you're likely dealing with spit up stains several times a day. Sometimes these stains are relatively clear and inoffensive; on other occasions, they may be a cheesy texture with a sour, acidic smell. The best way to counteract this is to soak the garment or item in a solution of warm water and baking soda; the “basic” pH of baking soda works to neutralize the acid and remove the sour smell. Then launder with an enzyme-based detergent. If soaking isn't possible, or the stain is particularly strong-smelling, blot with a damp paper towel and apply a mound of making soda directly to the affected area; add water to make a paste. When the paste dries, scrape it off, rinse, and wash as usual (Note: baking soda can also be used for carpets and upholstery providing they won't fade).

2. Breast milk/Formula

While breast milk and formula can be components of spit up, sometimes these stains occur on their own, particularly on baby clothes and nursing garments. Breast milk and formula are protein-based, dairy stains; as such, they should be rinsed immediately in COOL water, as warm or hot water will actually “cook” the stain and cause it to set in. The next step is to use an enzyme-based stain remover or a 1:1 mixture of room-temperature water and Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Detergent in the spray bottle. Thoroughly spray to soak the entire area. For a stubborn breast milk or formula stain, use an oxygen bleach soak; place the item in a tub of cool water, dissolve oxygen bleach powder in a cup of warm water to activate, and pour the oxygen bleach solution into the tub of cool water (this is to maintain the cooler temperature and not allow the stain to set). Wash as usual in the machine.

3. Diaper Stains

Baby blowouts are a fact of life. Any new parent will tell you they are downright amazed at the frequency and scope of their baby's diaper disasters, which can extend to include clothing, linen, toys, furniture, car seats, baby bouncers, high chairs, rugs and, in some epic and unfortunate cases, the wall. Your first order of business after a blowout is probably a bath for baby (and maybe a shower for you).

When it's time to clean poop stains (hopefully sooner than later) start by scraping off excess material (this is what your plastic knives are for, and yes, we know it's gross). Spray with either an enzyme-based stain treatment or your bottle of 1:1 water and HP Baby and Toddler enzyme detergent and soak in warm water in your dedicated “diaper stain” tub with a small amount of dish detergent. (Diaper stains are protein-based; dish detergents and enzyme-based laundry detergents/stain products will work together to break these down). Leave items soaking for at least a half-hour, and then launder per instructions, using the hottest cycle possible for the fabric in order to sanitize. You can also use powdered oxygen bleach in the washing machine or, if permitted by manufacturer's care guidelines, liquid chlorine bleach.

4. Early solid foods

Watching your baby explore and experiment with solid food is an exciting time indeed. However, plan to see approximately as much food on your baby's face, hair, bib and clothes as in her tummy, especially in the early days. Some single solid foods can stain quite a bit, particularly pureed orange and green vegetables like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and green beans. To treat, scrape away excess food and rinse in cold water from the reverse side of the fabric to force the stain out. Use your pre-treatment spray to spot treat and rub gently. For a stubborn stain, soak for a half-hour in a tub of warm water mixed with oxygen bleach. Launder with Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Detergent following care instructions.

5. Teething trouble (baby drool)

Along with fussiness and fingers in the mouth, one of the early signs your baby is cutting their first tooth is an alarming amount of drooling. Use teething bibs to keep your baby comfortable and change them out whenever they get wet to prevent irritation. The good news is, baby drool is easy to clean; it usually doesn't require pre-treatment of any kind. You can take care by washing with an enzyme-based detergent like Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Detergent (the enzymes in the detergent break down the enzymes in the saliva right in the wash cycle).

Heritage Park Baby & Toddler Detergent gets the toughest baby stains out

Baby Stains Cleaning Chart

Baby Stain

How to Treat

Spit Up

Soak in warm water and baking soda
Or make a baking soda/water paste
Let dry, scrape off paste, wash

Breast milk / formula

Rinse in cool water to avoid cooking
Pre-treat with enzyme detergent or stain remover
Soak in oxygen bleach
Wash as usual

Diaper Stains
(baby poop stains)

Scrape of excess material
Spray with enzyme-based detergent or stain remover
Soak in warm to hot water with dish detergent
Wash on hottest temperature possible
Use oxygen or chlorine bleach in wash

Food Stains

Scrape of excess food
Rinse under cold water from "wrong side"
Pre-treat with detergent or spray and rub gently
Oxygen bleach soak if necessary
Launder per directions

Teething / drool

Wash with enzyme-based detergent.

Other Uses for Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent

Wouldn't it be great if baby messes confined themselves to just the baby's clothes and linen? Unfortunately, that's not how babies work (see “diaper stains” above). As a general rule, it is okay to use Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent to spot clean baby messes from other materials and fabrics around the house:

  • stuffed animals (sometimes these can be machine washed)
  • car seat and bouncy seat covers (usually also washable)
  • play mats
  • fabric furniture upholstery
  • rugs or carpeting

Of course, we always recommend testing on an inconspicuous area and following manufacturer's care instructions. However, this plant-based formula is natural, non-toxic, and safe to use around people and pets.

About Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent

Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent is a hypoallergenic, pH neutral, baby-safe laundry detergent for use on clothing, bedding, and toys. It has been dermatologist and pediatrician approved and is free from any harsh chemicals or cleaning agents that can irritate baby's sensitive skin. Our proprietary enzyme blend effectively cleans even the dirtiest baby laundry and tackles the toughest stains (food, biological and diaper residue) while being safe, gentle, and non-irritating. Concentrated formula means you use a smaller amount -- less waste! Made with only nine gentle ingredients for less chemical exposure for your family. And even though it's unscented, our baby detergent smells naturally "clean," removes smells, and leaves baby's clothes stain-free and soft. No need to use fabric softener or dryer sheets.

All of our products are also Leaping Bunny approved as being cruelty free and never tested on animals during any phase of the manufacturing process.

About Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

Heritage Park Baby and Toddler Laundry Detergent is a product of Heritage Park Laundry Essentials, where caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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