Paint. Chocolate. Blood. There are probably very few stains you haven't seen as a parent. Here's how to clean a few of the most common (read: annoying) stains that regularly show up on your kid's clothing.

By Christin Perry
April 30, 2021
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Kids and stains pretty much go hand in hand. No matter how adorable your little one looks when they walk out the door in the morning, you can be pretty sure they'll come back with a spot somewhere. And even though this is just part of being a kid, you certainly don't want to let stains destroy every article of clothing they own.

What's the best way to get a stain out of your kid's clothing? Well, it depends on what it is. From blood (it happens) to mustard (hopefully it happens more), experts share their tips for cleaning common stains when they strike.

An image of a mother and daughter doing laundry.
Credit: Getty Images.

Blood

Ahh, blood stains. Whether it's from a rowdy playground sesh or one of the many spills they'll take as they grow, blood stains are no fun to deal with. But they're actually not too difficult to remove, says Dean Davies, professional cleaning and laundry expert at Fantastic Services. If you're wondering how to get blood out of clothes and it's fresh blood, "simply running the stain under cold water can often do the trick," he says. For set-in stains, try soaking the area with either an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle, or hydrogen peroxide, both of which work by breaking down the organic material in the stain.

Paint

It's always wise to send your little one to school or daycare with a set of painting clothes. But if they do manage to splash some paint on their good clothing, don't sweat—if you catch it fast enough, it's not the disaster it seems. How to get paint out of clothing? Quickly remove the clothing and run it under fast-flowing water. The harder the water hits the paint, the more likely it will be to agitate it out of the fibers, so a sink sprayer or even a garden hose works well. Rub the fabric vigorously against itself as you spray it. Then, simply launder like you normally would.

If the paint has dried, Davies recommends the following trick: "Simply take an alcohol-based hairspray and spray the dried paint. The alcohol will turn it back to liquid. Then, use a toothbrush to loosen the paint. If you notice that the stain starts drying up again, spray a little more hairspray. When most of the paint is loosened, rinse it away with hot water."

Ink

When it comes to getting ink out of clothes, it's all about blotting. "Blot the mark with a microfibre cloth," says Davies. This helps to prevent the stain from growing larger, like it would if you rubbed it. Then, Davies says to apply stain remover, let the clothing sit for 10 minutes and launder as usual. If that technique doesn't fully remove the stain, he recommends blotting with rubbing alcohol again and re-laundering.

Gum

If you use the right technique, it can be easy to remove gum from your kid's clothes. But if you do it wrong, you'll be "stuck" with it forever. (Put intended.) Here's what Davies recommends: "If the gum has spread all over the cloth, put it in the freezer and wait for two hours. But if the gum is small you can use ice cubes in the area. Then, using a knife or credit card, scrape off the gum and pre-treat with white distilled vinegar. Once the stain is gone, launder the cloth as you normally would." Other handy ways to remove gum from clothing are to press another freshly chewed piece of gum into the existing gum, or to use a steamer or a hot iron to remove it.

Permanent Marker

Kids and Sharpies are like a moth to a flame. Those bold, dark lines are simply irresistible for kids, which is how they inevitably end up on everything from your walls to your sofa and of course, on your favorite new blouse. But all is not lost, even if you're unlucky enough to have a budding artist without an (appropriate) palette. Here's how to get Sharpie out of clothes, according to Davies: "First, put an old towel between the stained area and the other side of the cloth to prevent the stain from transferring. Then dip a cloth in rubbing alcohol and start dabbing the stain until the stain starts to disappear."

Continue this method over and over until the stain becomes very faint, then launder as usual. Just remember—it's key to switch to a clean cloth when the one you're using starts to get ink on it, otherwise you'll just smudge the ink stain everywhere.

Chocolate

Melted chocolate works a bit like gum when it comes to clothing stains. You can freeze the article of clothing to stiffen the chocolate, then scrape away any excess, says Davies. After that, you can apply stain remover and wash then dry the clothing like normal. If there's any oil left behind from the chocolate stain, rub talcum powder or chalk on the oil stain, let it sit for an hour, then re-wash and dry.

Crayon

We've all reached into a pocket only to draw our hand back in disgust over a mashed up, melted up pile of crayon. Crayons are made of wax, which can make quite a mess when it comes into contact with clothing. So how to get crayon out of clothes? It may seem impossible at first, but Davies insists it can be quite simple: "Put a paper towel onto the area and press it with an iron for a few seconds until the crayon is transferred to it. Once most of the wax is gone, apply a stain remover to the stain and soak in warm water for an hour."

Mustard

Made with turmeric, which is used in some countries as dye, mustard is one of the most difficult stains to remove from clothing. So what to do if that ballpark dog gets the best of your little one's favorite jersey? Davies suggests good old elbow grease is the best method for how to get mustard out of clothes. "Treat the stain with a generous amount of laundry detergent, then rub the material together to loosen the stain. Alternatively, you can try rubbing alcohol to further lighten the stain." Once you've got most of the discoloration removed, follow by washing and drying according to the instructions on your garment's tag.

Silly Putty

According to Maids.com, silly putty is one of the most difficult stains to remove since it's both oily and gooey—a terrible combination for fabric. The best plan of attack is to scrape off any excess material, then use a fabric stain remover to dissolve and break down any oily residue that gets left behind. Then, if the garment is washable, it's best to wash and dry like you normally would. Any left-over oil residue can be soaked up using chalk or powder, then re-laundered.

Grass Stains

If summer doesn't come with grass stains, you're doing something wrong! To get grass out of clothes, Davies suggests an enzymatic cleaner here, too. First, soak the stain in a one-to-one mixture of water and white vinegar. Then spray or rub a cleaner like Nature's Miracle directly on the stain, gently scrub the stain, and launder as usual.

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