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How to remove milk stains and baby spit up stains

Milk stains are a part of parenthood. So is learning how to tackle them.


Father feeding a baby with a bottle of baby milk

Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom or using formula, you’ll likely need to deal with milk and spit up stains from time to time.  Here are our top hacks for removing these stains from any fabric.

What to do when you first notice baby milk stains on clothes

  • Ideally,  dab the stain with a clean cloth, sponge or paper towel as soon as it occurs.

  • Avoid rubbing milk stains as this can make them harder to remove.

  • If the milk has dried, you may be able to remove the dried bits. Just scrape the stain gently with a dull knife.

  • Soak the item in cold water for at least 5 minutes. Don’t use warm or hot water as this can set the stain into the fabric.

It’s much easier to get out soaked milk stains than those that are dry, so even if the stain isn’t new, still soak it! The older the stain, the longer it needs to soak.

Pre-treating milk stains

  • Once an item has been soaked, apply a small amount of detergent to help lift the stain before running the wash cycle.

  • If you don’t have liquid detergent, make a paste from laundry powder by mixing it with a small amount of water before applying.

  • It’s important to remember to use detergents specially designed for sensitive skin such as hypoallergenic formulations. This is because newborn baby skin doesn’t have the same defenses as our own or that of older children.

Completing the process with a full wash

  • After pre-treating, put the item in your machine and start the wash cycle at the hottest temperature permitted. This should be indicated on the clothing label.

  • Higher temperatures are better at this stage to remove tough stains as they help kill bacteria too.

  • Once washed, dry items naturally over 24 hours. If you can, leave them in direct sunlight as this has a gentle bleaching effect.

That’s it. Easy right? Just remember:

  • Soak the stained item in cold water to prevent setting milk stains.

  • Pre-treat the stains with a stain remover or gentle detergent.

  • Wash as normal according to the clothing label and using products suitable for a baby’s delicate skin.