Tips For Baby Formula Stain And Spit Up Removal

by Taylor

Below I've gathered several tips from readers, as well as a video from the web, which share spit up and baby formula stain removal instructions and tricks.


The key with these stains is to treat them as quickly as possible, whenever you can, because they can set quickly and also, especially in the heat, can smell sour and nasty quite soon.

The longer they dry onto the clothing, the more difficult they are to remove. Therefore, below you'll find some tips for neutralizing the spit up, which contains some stomach acid generally, to keep it from causing as much damage to the clothing before it can get washed away.

Further, some people differentiate between washing these stains from the baby's clothes versus adult clothes.

I personally don't think there is much of a difference, and have always treated my clothing and those of my kids in the same manner, but if you want to use products specifically designed for babies for their clothing you can.

There are always lots of ways to remove spit up and formula, so I don't claim I've gathered all the possible ways to do it. Therefore, if you've got another way that works for you I'd love it if you shared it with me here.

Further, the tips below focus on removing formula and spit up stains from clothing and other washable fabrics, such as bibs and burp cloths, but as you may know babies don't just spit up onto washable stuff. Instead, they also make a mess on upholstery and carpet. If you're searching for information for these surfaces make sure to check my article about removing formula stains.


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I Always Take A Bar Of Fels Along When We Travel

by SR101 Reader

SR101 Reader says:

Fels Naptha is a great pre-treater to have in the laundry room, but I have found that when traveling with a baby that it is very helpful to rinse out formula spit ups with cold water as soon as possible and apply the Fels, then rinse it out 5 to 10 minutes later.

This way when you are able to do laundry when you return home you have little or no stain to deal with.

Otherwise I have a lot of pre-soaking (and line drying) to deal with when I return, both on his shirts as well as mine!

I have also had good luck removing blood stains with Fels.

This product is well worth the price I pay for it.

Taylor says:

Fels Naptha soap uses
Thanks for sharing that tip!

I've collected a bunch of uses for Fels Naptha soap here if you're interested in even more ways to use this laundry soap bar.

In addition, you can read more tips for how to remove blood stains here, or share your own.

Further, since I got this tip another reader, Nancy, shared she had been following the advice and here's what she thought of it.

Nancy's Response To This Advice:

We recently took a long weekend trip with the baby and I packed a bar of Fels.

While I would like to forget about laundry for at least a few days, having the Fels with me really cut down on the time I would have spent on this constant task when we returned.

Rinsing out those formula stains and applying the Fels allowed me to just throw the clothes in the wash when we got home.

If it were not for the laundry bar I would have had to run 3 different soaks, one for his clothes, one for my tops, and another for my robe!

BTW for soaking clothes, I really have found the BIZ powder to be the most helpful.

Taylor says: Here are links to buy this or related products. If you make a purchase I receive a small commission which helps support this site and my family.



Photo by bradleyolin

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I Pretreat Formula Stains With Dishwashing Liquid

by Liz

Liz says:

I had already been using the 20 Mule Team Borax for soaking baby clothes (and mine), but when I saw your tip about pre treating formula stains with dish washing liquid I tried it, and it is really helpful.

Before I put the clothes in to soak I apply dish washing liquid, leave it on for about 15 minutes, rinse with cold water, and then apply a little more, rub in, and drop the garment into a soak bucket.

I use the same process for my tops because I get a lot of the same stains on them as well, just use a separate soak bucket.

When I am ready to wash a load, I just dump the bucket of clothes into the washer and add detergent.

Pretreating and soaking stained clothes makes a world of difference in the cleaning results, and saves time and money.

Of course I try to apply the dishwashing liquid to the stains as soon as possible, what a difference the timing makes.

Though it is not always possible, the other catch all here is that it is best to air dry all of the garments that you know were stained, just in case the stain was not totally removed in the wash.

Otherwise you can end up with clothes that you can only wear at home, believe me I have some of those.

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing this Liz. Everyone's got dish soap at home, so this can really help some new Moms with these pesky spots.

You can use dishwashing liquid for lots of cleaning and stain removal uses. Here's some more dish soap uses here, or share your own!

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The Sun Plus Lemon Juice Is How I Deal With These Tough Stains

by Mary

I use the power of the sun to remove extremely tough (old) formula stains from white clothing.

Once I have done my normal soaking and washing of these garments and there are any stains remaining, I will apply a liberal dose of lemon juice and let them dry in the sun. It works every time as a natural bleaching effect.

Photo courtesy of comingstobrazil

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Use Borax As Presoaker

by Amanda

Amanda shared how she uses 20 Mule Team Borax to presoak baby stains, to help them come out.

You can read her entire suggestions here (since I filed them on a different page).

I just didn't want anyone to miss this tip!

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Baby Formula Stain Removal From Clothes - With Video

Here's a video showing several alternate tips for baby formula stain removal from clothing.

In this video, instead of using liquid enzyme laundry detergent or a stain pretreater, as suggested in my article on removing formula stains, this video suggests using unseasoned meat tenderizer instead.

Basically, the premise is the same -- both the meat tenderizer and the laundry detergent or laundry pretreater contain enzymes, which help break down the formula stain, which is made of protein, mainly.

I guess the theory in suggesting meat tenderizer is that you can use items that will be in your pantry to remove the stain.

Taylor says: Here are links to buy this or related products. If you make a purchase I receive a small commission which helps support this site and my family.



Unfortunately for me, I would have to go out and buy meat tenderizer at the store before I could use this stain removal method, where as I already have both a laundry pretreater and laundry detergent sitting in my laundry room.

However, this gives you an alternative way of removing these stains, for those of you who do keep meat tenderizer handy.

Further, I do like how this video suggests some additional methods for formula stain removal.

First, it suggests that if you catch the stain fast enough you may just be able to wipe it away with a baby wipe. Those are generally pretty handy if you are dealing with formula stains -- so I like this tip. (Click the link if you'd like to read more uses for baby wipe around your home, or to share your own.)

Finally, it suggests using undiluted lemon juice if the stain is on a white item, which can then be laid out in the sun (see the tip above for more details on that).



***Update: An SR101 reader wrote in to share this thought about the video with me. She said:
I agree with the video that you should use sunshine to help remove these stains.

I do this all the time for bibs and shirts that get spit up stains on them.
***End Update

Photo by brokinhrt2

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Baby Spit Up Stain Removal Tip

by Taylor

Baby spit up is generally acidic, since it came from your baby's stomach.

These stains can yellow quickly. To stop the acid in the spit up from yellowing your baby's clothes you need to neutralize it.

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The easiest way to do this is sprinkle baking soda onto the spit up, and then wash as soon as possible.

If you do these steps many pieces of clothing and also your spit cloths can be saved from yellowing.

Of course, if you get out baby clothes from storage and see a yellow stain that you don't think was there before, it is not necessarily a yellow stain from the acid in the spit up, which got washed away in the wash.

Instead, it is most like oxidized proteins from the spit up, from either formula or breast milk.

Here is another reader tip for removing yellow stains from old baby clothes, which should help.

So, do you have any tips for how to use baking soda around your home? If so, you can share your baking soda uses here, or read others already submitted.

Photo by susansimon

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Dishwashing Liquid + Oxi Clean Powder Works For Me!

by Joan

I also pretreat formula stains with dishwashing liquid just as Liz indicated.

The dishwashing liquid really breaks up these stains.

I have also used it on greasy food stains.

I do a lot of presoaking with the Oxi Clean Powder, of course the version that is free of perfumes and dyes.

Unless you are able to wash these stained clothes right away presoaking is the best method.

An ongoing soak bucket is the most economical and efficient way to handle these constant stains, both on the baby's clothes as well as ours.

I also use a separate soak bucket for the adult clothes.

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I Use Fels, Zout & 20 Mule Team Borax For Baby's Messes

by Heidi P.

Heidi says:

I have used Fels for several years, mainly to pretreat shirt collars and other occasional stains.

Of course after my son was born laundry became a whole new process.

I contacted the company that produces Fels and asked for advice regarding my new laundry problems, i.e. formula and baby food stains.

They recommended Zout as a pretreater and also 20 Mule Team Borax as a presoaker and general laundry booster.

I now use all three of these products depending on the severity of the stains and how fast I can tackle them.

I really like soaking with the Borax and also adding it to the wash as a booster.

The Zout is a very good pretreater for small stains, including formula and fruit juice.

Of course I will never give up on my Fels, especially since it is effective and inexpensive.

I keep a bar of Fels at work, as well as an extra shirt, since my son will occasionally perform a delayed spit up on me between the time I leave the house and drop him off at the day care.

It is amazing what a difference it makes to rinse out a spit up stain right away, rather than to have it sit for several hours!

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How To Handle Fresh & Old Baby Formula Stains

by SR101 Reader

An SR101 reader shared with me how she removes these stains, depending on how old they are. Instead of using home remedies she uses specific products, which she recommends.

SR101 Reader says:

For same day treatment of baby formula stains:

1) Apply a cold water paste of baking soda to the stain and let sit for 15-30 minutes. This will neutralize the stain and help eliminate sour odors.

2) Rinse, and apply Shout Gel pretreater rubbing the Shout into the stain using the applicator brush.

3) Launder with Dreft detergent.

For stains more than 1 day old or where there are multiple stains, i.e. baby food and formula:

Pre-soak with Clorox 2 powder noting the appropriate soak times for white versus colored garments. Rinse thoroughly.

Then apply Shout Gel if needed.

Leave the garment sit for about 10 minutes. Finally, launder with Dreft detergent.

For formula stains on adult clothing (a common event) apply the same rules as above. You may want to substitute another enzyme detergent such as Tide or Wisk since they tend to be more economical than Dreft.

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for sharing what products and method you use for treating these stains.

I'd love to hear from even more people sharing what products they use too, be they baby laundry products, or more general supplies designed for everyone to use.

You can share your laundry stain remover reviews here, or read other opinions and experiences that have already been submitted by other readers.

Photo by katerha

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How I Deal With Formula Stains That Happen At Home

by SR101 Reader

For baby formula stains that occur at home I will rinse them right away with cold water.

Then apply dishwashing detergent to the stain leaving it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing.

Next I will apply the Shout Gel pretreater and throw it in the hamper for the next wash. Of course it does not take long to accumulate a load of wash, but the Shout can be left on up to a week.

The only time I have not done a load of baby clothes in a day is when the washer broke down! Most of the time I need to follow these steps for 2 shirts, the baby's and mine.

When I run the baby's wash I use Dreft liquid and always add about a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the load.

If I am unable to handle these stains immediately I presoak them with Biz powder over night before washing with Biz and Dreft. Biz really knocks out set in stains.

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing all these great ways for removing these baby stains.

I noted that you use dishwasher detergent to remove the stains. You may not be surprised, but many readers may be, that this cleaning supply actually has lots of other cleaning and stain removal uses. In fact, I've collected quite a few of them at the link, so if you're interested read the article to see how else you can use dishwasher detergent for stain removal. In addition, if you know of a use yourself please share it as well!



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I Tried The Approach Suggested Above And It Helped

by Sharon

Sharon sent me this note saying she had used the advice from the SR101 reader above, regarding dealing with formula stains that happen at home.

Sharon says:

I am always looking for ways to cut down the amount of time I spend on laundry.

Sometimes I think my laundry hampers are bottomless pits, as my washer runs almost as much as my refrigerator!

I recently tried your approach in removing formula spit ups and it really helped.

I was already using Shout Gel, but the use of dishwashing liquid was news to me. There must be something in it that neutralizes the stain.

I know that dishwashing liquid can be helpful in removing greasy type stains on clothing but never thought of using it on formula.

I have a friend that uses it on shirt collars as it can help in removing make up stains.

I now keep a bottle of dishwashing liquid in the baby's room as well as the laundry room.

BTW I read through all of the tips and note that I also like the Biz product.

Photo courtesy of abbybatchelder

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I Use Carbona Stain Devil Formula #4 For Dry Clean Only Garments

by SR101 Reader

SR101 Reader says:

I have used Carbona's stain devils #4 to remove baby formula from a jacket that was a dry clean only garment.

I restrict my use of Carbona products to stains on dry cleanable items since they are fairly expensive.

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Taylor says:

Thanks so much for the tip, because you're right, unfortunately babies don't just spit up and spill on washable clothing and other fabrics, but sometimes on things that can't be washed!

If you're not familiar with this brand of stain removal products I've written an article about the 9 formulas available which are designed to combat different stains.

In addition, I've shared my own review of Carbona Stain Devil #4 here which I recommend for blood stain removal.

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Baby Stains - A Tip From A New Mom

Monica from Desperately Seeking Coffee has a great suggestion for baby food stains that works for her, and I think will also work for you.

She keeps her favorite laundry stain remover right next to the hamper where she puts her baby's clothes once they've been worn.

That is a wonderful idea, because the quicker you can put a stain remover on the stain, the easier it will come out in the wash.

And babies, as any parent knows, have a tendency to make a mess on the majority of their clothes.

I have even found that babies can make a mess in places you don't normally even look. For example, once I didn't notice my child's sock had a big splotch of, I think, strained carrots on it, and put it through the washer and dryer without pre-treating.

It was basically ruined because I had set the stain in the dryer, but who would have ever thought to look on a sock for a food splatter? Not me, the new mom, but now I know better!

I'd love to hear even more tips from you, sharing your tips for removing baby stains of all varieties. You can share your tip here.

In addition, you can read my tricks and ideas for removing the top types of baby stains.

Photo by tiffanywashko

Related Links On This Site

Clothing Stain Removal Tricks & Tips

Stain Removal Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

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Comments for Baby Stains - A Tip From A New Mom

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How to pretreat a suit?
by: Bonnie

How to pretreat a man's suit to keep baby spit up from staining it?

Best Pretreaters For Formula Stains
by: Anonymous

As far as pretreaters for formula stains the day care workers said that Shout Gel, Zout, and Whink are the best. Shout and Whink are favored because there is no problem leaving them on the stains for several days if needed, and it is always best to pretreat as soon as possible. Since they deal with different types of formula they also noted that Shout Gel and Zout work on most of these stains, but for certain ones Whink is the only product that does the job. They also said that they, as well as their customers, use other laundry boosters for the wash and presoaking which include Borax, Oxi Clean,and Biz. They buy baking soda in the largest size available as it has various cleaning uses in their business beyond laundry.

Stain Devil #4, Fels, & BIZ Remove Formula Stains
by: Sandy

This works really well to remove formula stains on the few dry cleanable items I still own! The Daycare recommended this stain remover. For all of the washable garments that have formula stains, as well as many other types of stains, I use Fels bar soap as a pre treater and BIZ powder as a booster and presoak. These products were also on the list of stain removers recommended by the Daycare. Both are reasonably priced and extremely effective. Note that presoaking is best when you have lots of stains, but avoid using hot water, especially when removing formula stains.

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Taylor

Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.

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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.