Tips For Removing Yellow Stains From Clothing & Other Fabrics

by Taylor

A frequent type of question I get here on the site is about removing yellow stains from clothing and other fabrics.

This can be rather complicated to answer though, because there are a lot of reasons why cloth can become yellowed.

Sometimes it is because of an actual yellow stain, such as from things like mustard.

Other times it is because of a chemical reaction caused by perspiration or sweat.

Another possibility is an overuse of chlorine bleach which causes the cloth not to get whiter, as you would think, but to deteriorate and become yellowed.

And finally, it can be from age and storage of clothing, both of which can cause them to develop stains or general yellowing.

This page is really devoted to this last type of issue, and the tips I've collected from readers for how they remove such stains.

I'd love to hear from even more people about this issue, sharing how they've removed or lightened these stains, and salvaged their linens or other clothing so it can be used again. If you've got a tip of your own, you can share it here!

Otherwise, scroll down to see the tips already submitted by other readers to solve this very common problem.

Photo courtesy of f_shields

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Yellow Stain Removal - Removing Yellow Stains From Old Baby Clothes

by Mae L.
(Wilmington, DE)

Old Baby Clothes Can Develop Yellow Stains While In Storage

Old Baby Clothes Can Develop Yellow Stains While In Storage

Mae tells her secret for yellow stain removal, and how she saved her hand me down baby clothes for a second use.

Mae says:

When my oldest child grew out of her infant clothes I lovingly packed them away in hopes that a sibling would come along some day.

As her sister’s arrival approached I went into the attic to pull out the onesies, bibs, and adorable pajamas I had saved. As I pulled them out of the container I was horribly disappointed to find the clothes covered in yellow stains.

I knew I had washed them before putting them away, and the dryer sheets were left in as proof.

It turns out that those yellow stains were secret, hidden proteins from breast milk. As the milk sits on fabric over the course of time the protein breaks down and leaves behind a yellow stain.

I thought the clothes were ruined. I called my best friend and cried.

Luckily, my friend had heard somewhere that OxiClean could help. I made a solution of warm water and OxiClean in a clean bucket. I slipped in the clothes and crossed my fingers.

After soaking for a few hours I removed the clothes and put them through a spin cycle on the washing machine. The clothes looked cleaner, but it is always hard to tell when they are wet.

I didn’t want to raise my hopes only to be disappointed once more. I put all the clothes through a regular wash cycle, and then put them in the dryer.

When I pulled them out the stains were gone! It was a wash day miracle! I now know the secret for yellow stain removal!

Since then, I have used OxiClean on all my baby stains.

For example, just the other day I saved a lovely white sundress from a messy diaper leak.

If you add an extra scoop of Oxiclean into each load it catches the stains I didn’t even know about.

The only wish I had known about the power of OxiClean with my oldest child.

Taylor says:

Thanks Mae for sharing your tips for yellow stain removal.

I get questions all the time about this issue of yellowed baby clothes, because after a regular washing, right after it happens, the clothing looks clean.

Oxiclean uses
It is only after time, and generally some heat while the baby clothes are stored somewhere like an attic that can get hot that the stains oxidize and all of a sudden you are left with the task of removing yellow stains from clothing.

So, does anyone else have some great uses for Oxiclean, for stain removal or other cleaning tasks around your home? If so, share your Oxiclean uses and reviews here, or read even more already submitted.

In addition, you can share your reviews of other laundry stain removers here, telling me which ones are your favorite (or least favorite) and why.

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

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Homemade Yellowing Stain Removal Recipe

by Nan

Nan says:

I have been hired to recover some old clothes that were left downstairs in the laundry room for years.

There is a older gentleman and disabled lady who is his wife.

These clothes have everything on them - blood, urine, chocolate, red sauce, and above all yellowing from sitting...

I have found that hydrogen peroxide works really well.

Also, baking soda toothpaste worked into the spot, and then soak in hydrogen peroxide, and it really comes out in the wash!

Taylor says:

Thanks Nan for sharing these great tips.

There are lots of laundry uses for hydrogen peroxide. You can click the link to see more, or share how you use this common household item for cleaning, laundry and stains.

In addition, just as Nan said, toothpaste is a great cleaner as well. You can check out these uses for toothpaste here, or tell me your own!

Uses for toothpaste around your home

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Soaking In BIZ Removes The Years From Antique Linens

by SR101 Reader

SR101 Reader says:

To remove the yellowing from antique linens fill a sink (or large bowl for small items) with warm water, a small amount of detergent and a large amount (as much as three times the recommended amount) of Biz.

Mix it all really well then add the item to be cleaned.

Be sure the item is clean and wet.

Let it soak for several days.

If the water gets dirty, pour it out and start over.

After soaking and when the item is as clean as you want it, then rinse well and wash again.

This works well on white or colored items.

Taylor says:

uses for BIZ stain remover
Thanks so much for sharing this tip.

Both of the tips so far for removing yellow stains from clothing and other fabric have involved the technique of presoaking the cloth, just using different products.

There are, of course, lots of uses for BIZ stain remover, for both stain removal and clothing, so check out the article if you'd like to learn even more about them, or to share your own.

Further, I would love to hear from more people who have successfully removed yellowing from older cloth, sharing how you did it. You can share your own tips here, and I'll add them to this page!

Photo by Mr Thinktank

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White's yellowing
by: Nancy

I have a beautiful white eyelet skirt that I had altered a few years ago to fit just perfect. Then I never went any where to use it. It now is starting to yellow at the waist and pockets. Is there any thing I can do about this?

Kitchen curtains
by: Makene Hunt

Soaked my 100% cotton kitchen curtains in Oxiclean overnight in the washer. Twice. They were quite yellow and much of the yellow is gone but still not great. Would really like to have white curtains again. What can I use now after using the Oxiclean?

Yellowing on white linens
by: Anonymous

I had white linens in storage. When I opened them back up, they are yellowed in the centers!

Yellow stains on new clothes
by: Anonymous

I have brand new clothes with tags still on that when I go to wear them they have yellow spots that I can’t get out and don’t know what is causing them.

Vintage fabrics I designed that had been in a trunk
by: Kim

I found some fabrics I designed 25 years ago up in the attic. Where they were folded there are yellow bands and some spots that look like it could be rust, but they were in steamer trunks so they weren't exposed to rust or water. I washed them in the washing machine in warm water, but I don't know what to do next? Please help, I found a matching comforter and would love to redo a bedroom with these fabrics!

Yellowing of white capris
by: Marlene

The legs of my white capris are yellow and I am assuming that it is from body lotion. How do I get it out, please? I have tried bleach. Thank you for any help.

Yellow stain on white jacket after washing
by: Anonymous

Our water softener has not been working properly and, after washing, my white cotton jacket came out with yellow stains. I soaked it in chlorine bleach which turned the stains more yellow. Is there a way to remove these yellow stains?

bring back the whiteness?
by: Hemachandra

My bright white shirt has turned into light yellow colour. How can I bring back the whiteness?

yellow patches
by: Jackie Wilton

I need help to stop my whites turning completely yellow please.

How to remove yellowish stains on 15 year old cotton quilt?
by: Patty

I have a beautiful 15 year old handmade cotton quilt that has yellowish blotchy stains, probably from using too high a dryer heat setting (accidentally done by a helping husband). I always hung it up to dry after washing on special gentle cycle of washing machine. These stains are probably 7 years old, very set in. Over the years I have tried Biz, different Oxiclean powders, baking soda, different All detergents, Tide, and various other detergents, vinegar, special cleaning product from a quilt shop, I have presoaked quilt in bathtub many times using these products, but can't do that anymore as its gets tremendously heavy, I can't work with it that way anymore due to me undergoing intense, extremely difficult back surgery, from which I'm still recovering. It's a job in itself to wring out queen size cotton quilt.

I believe the too-high dryer setting is the cause of stain, which probably is impossible to get out. Any help very appreciated.

clothes on hanger have yellowed
by: Sharley

How do I get a sort of yellow stain off clothes that have hung on a hanger for a long time?

Yellow stains on white trousers after the first wash
by: Robin

I have tried nappy San with no effect, then tried bleach.

pillow case covers
by: Anonymous

How do I get yellow stains out of pillow case covers?

Mystery yellow marks
by: Lisa Zitelli

After storage clothes have yellow marks cannot get out.

Hydrogen peroxide for yellow stains on baby clothing that has been stored away for future use.
by: Anonymous

I tried the hydrogen peroxide on a beautiful cream dress that my 6 year old granddaughter wore at 18 months old to her uncles wedding rehearsal dinner. The dress was stored away clean. We took it out to lend to my 18 month granddaughter (the uncles baby girl) to now wear to the "Baby Sprinkle" of the new baby brother that is coming soon. The dress had the yellow stains in quite a few places, until I took hydrogen peroxide on cotton swabs, dabbed at the stains.....every single stain disappeared before my eyes!!!!! So thrilled we can get another wearing out f this beautiful dress!!! Brilliant, so glad I took the time to read your website! The dress looks brand new!!!! Thank you.

Delicate fabric
by: Virginia

My granddaughter has asked for her mother’s baptism gown for her new baby. Been in the family for 60 years, and used by many. Do you think I can whiten the gown with Oxiclean?

Stained jumpers
by: Patrica

I have two jumpers one is white synthetic with some black on bottom of jumper & sleeves the other one is cream wool blend when I went to ware them both had wide yellow stains across front, back & middle of sleeves they were packed away with two other jumpers one cream one light they were both fine & older jumpers. How can I remove stains?

Delicate (and really old) fabric
by: Pat

Will this work on very delicate clothing? I have a baptisamal dress that is 75 years old. Great Grandpa wore, Grandpa wore it, Daddy wore in and now we have a brand new baby - but the dress is quite yellow. It was made by Great Great Grandma and has a lot of hand sewing and embroidery on it so can't use the washer.

Flannel diapers
by: Jan

I have several flannel diapers that my husband's Nonna made for our now 32 year old daughter. I want to give them to her as she is expecting in January. Not to use as diapers but burp cloths etc. I found they have yellowed while in storage. Any ideas to get them clean?

Yellowing on shirts from hanging in closet
by: Anonymous

I have some shirts that has some yellowing lines on them from hanging in my closet. How do I get the yellowing out? It's on white shirts and colored shirts. Please help so I don't have to throw them out.

yellowing of towels left on shelf for long time
by: Linda

How do I get rid of yellowing of exposed edges of towels left on a shelf for a long time? I washed them with Tide and baking soda and they did not come out.

yellow stain in white napkins from being stored a long time?
by: Miguelina

Can I use baking soda?

vintage jacket
by: CJ

I just found this vintage jacket that used to be white. I know it is yellow due to the aging period. It has been in my grandmother's closet. Please help me. It has different color trim on it and it would look great, only if I can turn the yellow back to white.

how can I remove this stain from a gauzy skirt?
by: Eva Morales

Checking to see if you have an answer on removing yellowing stains from clothing. I have a gas furnace plus I smoke. I have a white skirt that is 100% cotton but has a gauze like feel. It is in terrible shape. The thing is stained almost orange in spots and yellowed all over. Is there anything that I can do?

Yellowed Christening gown
by: Kathy

I need to whiten an old Christening to be used soon. It's almost 50 years old and still in good condition besides yellowing over the years. Will baby Oxiclean harm the material, which is nylon and satin with lace?

response to Angie's question re orangish iron stains on clothes
by: Taylor

You've got rust stains, and that can result from a bit of excess iron or similar metals dissolved in well water. I would suggest periodically cleaning your washing machine with a product designed to remove excess rust, and then also to use a product to remove rust stains from clothes. You can read up on rust stain remover reviews here, some of which work well on appliances, while others work on clothing. One I know lots of readers have found to work well is Super Iron Out.

country living and laundry
by: Angie Duffie

I moved to the country last year and have orange iron stains on clothes. Is there any way to get them out? I started running the 1st load empty to clean out any water laying in pipes, but hasn't helped much.

yellowed bedding
by: Judy

I had stored away some cotton bedding. When I took it out a few years later it was yellow. Can this be removed and bedding made white again? I did try the oxy-clean and soaked it overnight. I will check after work today to see if it made any improvement. If not, then what? Any suggestions?

mystery yellowish brown stains
by: Anonymous

I have yellowish brown marks appearing on my light blue work uniform at the back. Tried all the stain removers, none seem to work. It's happened to at least 3 uniforms, any tips?

hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
by: Annette

I have used hydrogen peroxide with baking aoda on yellowed "white" laundry. Make a paste and apply to areas affected, let it dry/sit, then add to a regular batch of laundry. With my HE washer I use a pre-soak and an extra rinse to make sure that they really get all the paste out.

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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.