How to Remove Baby Spit Up Stains


Caress asked: How can I get baby formula spit up stains off of my daughter’s clothes? I have tried baby detergent, but I don’t know if I should or could use more abrasive products.

Babies spit up all the time. Though some more frequently than others, every mother has encountered spit up stains. Whether it’s food, breastmilk or formula, all spit up requires some quick stain removal techniques. The methods below offer safe, effective stain removal that will remove both fresh and old stains. Rinsing the clothing well will ensure that your baby’s delicate skin is not affected.

Removing Breastmilk Spit Up Stains

You Will Need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Lemon juice
  • Sunlight

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Breastmilk is typically easier to remove from baby’s clothing.
  2. Simply wash as normal with liquid laundry detergent. Mild detergents such as Dreft work fine. However, if a stronger cleaning agent is needed, use normal detergent and run an extra rinse cycle to remove any remaining soap that may be in the clothing.
  3. Once the clothing has been washed, hang it to dry in the sunshine. The bleaching effects from the sun will remove the remaining stains.
  4. If the sunlight does not work, dab a small amount of lemon juice on the area.
  5. Place in direct sunlight again until dry.

Removing Formula Spit Up Stains

You Will Need:

  • Stiff brush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Club soda

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Unfortunately, the chemical make-up of formula makes it much more difficult to remove. Follow these steps for the best results.
  2. Begin by brushing as much of the dried stain away as possible with a stiff brush.
  3. Lay the clothing in a sink or tub.
  4. Sprinkle the entire stain with baking soda.
  5. Pour some club soda over the stain. The baking soda will begin to fizz. This is normal and the reaction that you want.
  6. Allow the piece to sit and fizzle until the bubbling stops.
  7. Wash as normal with detergent and warm water.
  8. Baby detergents such as Dreft are fine. If a more powerful detergent is needed, use regular detergent and run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all of the soap residue is removed as this can irritate baby’s sensitive skin.
  9. Allow the clothing to air dry away from heat.
  10. If the stain remains, repeat the steps above.

Removing Old Spit Up Stains

You Will Need:

  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Dishwasher detergent

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Old stains are often set in or become noticeable after the clothing has been stored in a box for some time.
  2. Begin by filling a bucket with hot water.
  3. Add dishwasher detergent to the water and agitate to mix thoroughly.
  4. Place the affected clothing into the bucket.
  5. Allow it to soak overnight.
  6. Remove and launder as usual.
  7. Rinse well (run extra rinse cycle(s)) to ensure all of the soap is removed.
  8. If the stains are light, simply add the dishwasher detergent to the washing machine water.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you are unsure if the stain was removed, avoid drying the clothing in the dryer. The heat will set the stain and make it virtually impossible to remove.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals and cleaners that may irritate baby’s skin. Bleach, stain removers, etc. all contain harsh chemicals and are not recommended for stain removal.
  • A safe cleaner is Bac-Out. This mild cleaner contains natural enzymes that work through tough stains without leaving a residue that can harm baby’s skin.
  • Some stains are not noticeable at first, but become more prominent after clothing is stored for some time. To remove these stains, follow the guidelines in Removing Old Spit Up Stains above.
  • Bar soap also works well when removing stains. Rub the stained area with the bar soap. Allow it to set for at least 30 minutes, and then wash as normal.


  1. Does anyone know how to remove old breast milk stains from the carpet?

  2. How much dish detergent do you use in the bucket for removing old stains?

  3. I brought out my 26-year-old’s hospital sweater and it’s stained!!! I was hoping to use this sweater set for my granddaughter in August. What will work? It can’t be anything but formula stains.

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