As a parent you quickly find out that “dirty clothes” has a whole new meaning. While you previously thought your jeans were filthy after three wears with not a stain in sight, you’re now contending with pint-sized pants decorated with ink or Sharpie, green streaks of grass, shmears or blood or grease and even poop. Yes, poop. But getting rid of these shockingly common stains isn’t actually as hard as you thought. Here’s how to do it:
How to get ink out of clothes
Wet the affected area with water, then sprinkle on table salt. Gently rub and watch it disappear. This works best on fresh ink.
How to get permanent marker out of clothes
The first rule of parenting is to hide all your Sharpies. Missed the memo? Most times, a bit of alcohol-based hand sanitizer will remove permanent marker from clothes. Apply a squirt over the stain and rub in a circular motion with a sponge. Let sit for 15 minutes and watch the stain disappear. Repeat if necessary.
How to get gum off clothes
Three options await you:
- Nuke a bowl of vinegar for 1 min and dip the gummed fabric in the bowl, scrubbing off with a toothbrush.
- Crank the blow-dryer to heat the gum and scrape it off with a plastic knife.
- Place ice cubes on the gum for at least 30 seconds to freeze it, then scrape it off with a knife.
How to remove grease from clothes
If your kid has opted to use their sweatpants instead of the napkin you’ve carefully placed beside their plate (and reminded them to use six times), not to worry—there are a couple of easy ways to get grease stains out of clothes.
- Rub plain old white chalk over the mark and leave overnight, then launder. Magic! McAllister says that grease needs to be cut with a degreasing agent. She recommends mixing 1 tsp blue Dawn Ultra dish soap with 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp hydrogen peroxide.
- Scrub into the stain and leave overnight. Rinse well and machine wash.
How to remove blood from clothes
Whoops, another wipeout? McAllister says it’s no problem if you act fast. “Pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain to help lift it,” she says. “Then rinse well and wash on cold.” Check the stain when the cycle is done and before putting the item in the dryer to see if you may need to repeat the hydrogen peroxide step. Dealing with dry blood? Tays swears by treating stains with none other than Pine-Sol. Hydrogen peroxide should also work.
How to wash clothes with poop on them
How come they never tell you about up-the-back diaper blowouts in the baby books? First, clean up your baby; then, tackle the onesie.
- Wipe off the excess poop with a baby wipe, or go the extra mile and scrape it using the side of a spoon. (Isn’t being a parent fun?!)
- Rinse, then scrub with detergent. Then—and this part is key—lay the onesie in the sun until dry.
- Wash like normal. If it’s the dead of winter or the sun is scarce, scrape off the poop as best you can and use yellow Sunlight dish soap (not the laundry detergent, and it has to be yellow!) to scrub out the stain before throwing it in the wash.
Tip: If the poop explosion is particularly epic and the onesie is nothing special, you would not be the first parent to decide to throw the onesie away.
How to get grass stains out of clothes
For whites, Tays recommends Cascade dishwasher powder, saying it “works miracles” because the enzymes break down the stains. Let the clothing sit in the hottest water possible and add a cup of Cascade. Wash like normal. For coloured clothes with grass stains, try this:
- Form a thick paste from 1 tbsp baking soda and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Spread onto the stain and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Scrub off, rinse in cool water, then scrub in detergent and let sit again.
- Rinse once more in cold water and launder as normal.
How to remove salt stains from boots
Keep boots salt-stain–free by mixing equal parts white vinegar and lukewarm water. Dab a rag into the mixture and wipe away the stains. Towel dry when you’re done.
Meet the experts who shared their tips, tricks and hacks:
With more than two million followers, McAllister’s company, Go Clean Co., is kind of a big deal on Instagram. Known for her undying love of powdered Tide detergent and for bringing the concept of laundry stripping to the mainstream, McAllister is a serial entrepreneur and mom of one.
Danielle Tays—Hampton, New Brunswick
Better known as @momthatlovestoclean on TikTok, this mother of one and stepmom of two soothed her COVID anxiety by sharing her knowledge and tips. Boasting more than 450,000 followers, she and her like-minded cleaning squad refer to themselves as the #mopsquad.
Along with partner Sean Campbell, Moorhouse started Condo Fresh Inc. in 2011 with a goal of providing professional cleaning and organizing with a natural spin. After encouragement from his customers, he recently launched his own line of natural cleaners, called Moorfreshouse Inc.