How to Remove Stains from a White Skirt

Dear Home-Ec 101,
My two year old daughter has a white skirt that she absolutely loves to wear. The last time I washed it, I noticed lots of large yellow spots all over the skirt. Since she’s two, there is no telling what those spots may be. I have tried using OxiClean, Dawn dish soap, and bleach, and the spots haven’t budged at all. I want to rescue her favorite skirt. What can I do?
Signed,
Still Spotty

get stains out of a white skirt

Heather says:

First of all, I’m going to let you in on two little, disappointing secrets:

  1. Some stains are permanent.
  2. Some stains can be made permanent if treated incorrectly the first time.

With toddlers, both tannin (fruit juice) and protein stains are usually a possibility and both can be difficult if not treated promptly.

Both tannin and protein stains should be rinsed under cool water. Tannin stains should then be washed in the hottest water tolerated by the garment, while protein (milk) stains should be soaked in warm water with plenty of detergent.

In your specific case, it looks as though you haven’t tried using the acid route. Grab some lemon juice or vinegar and rub directly on the spots and place the garment in the sun for a few hours. Wash and inspect the skirt and repeat, if necessary.  This method works especially well for tannin stains which can be caused by fruit juices. Since apple juice is so light, you may not have noticed the stain until after it had been washed and dried.

how to remove stains from clothes

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Another round of soaking oxygen bleach MAY finish removing any residual stains, but I can’t promise.

Unfortunately, it does sound like this stain has set and these suggestions may not be completely effective.

Good luck!

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com

 



10 Comments

  1. Julia Adams on March 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for this, I got garden compost on a white skirt (I know, what was I thinking, gardening in a white skirt, lol ) & then put it in the washing basket, became ill and so, it was forgotten – until today, almost 8 months later! I shall be trying the vinegar as it worked so well on the little girls skirt. Just got to wait for the sun to come out now…

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  3. HeatherSolos on August 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    @Bobbie Laughman Great idea

  4. HeatherSolos on August 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    @irishpagal hydrogen peroxide and oxygen bleach are essentially the same thing, at least once the powder has been dissolved in water. http://www.home-ec101.com/oxygen-bleach-an-introduction/

  5. HeatherSolos on August 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    @asimonis I was never big on fruit juice, either. However, it seemed like any time we went anywhere they were offered juice. I picked my battles since we were home most of the time. 🙂

    I’m so glad to hear that it helped.

  6. musingminds on August 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    It it’s white, you can try RIT Color Remover to get out the stains and get the garment white again. Works for colors too, but then you have to re-dye for color.

  7. asimonis on August 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I will guess that the stain was milk, since baby girl doesn’t usually drink fruit juice. I had not thought of vinegar as a stain removal device, but it looks like the vinegar + sun has worked! I am going to let it sit outside for a bit longer, though. Thanks for the advice. 🙂

  8. irishpagal on August 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Using hydrogen peroxide works very well on stains, especially blood. I keep a bottle in the laundry area and use it instead of bleach. It will not ruin material or leave spots. It has even worked on older spots unless they have been treated with other things – but still worth a try. A friend at work spilled coffee on his tie – I always keep a bottle at my desk – I gave him some to try – and it took the stain right out. Works best when the stain in fresh.

  9. Bobbie Laughman on August 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

    When I took a decorative painting class back in the day, someone complimented the instructor’s hand-painted sweatshirt – it had flowers in random places. She said it was a garden shirt — every time she got a stain on it, it “grew” a new flower. I thought that was a brilliant idea and used it a couple times myself. If you don’t paint, maybe you can sew on some applique patches?

  10. elizabethavice on August 31, 2011 at 10:05 am

    If it doesn’t retreat from your cleaning prowess, maybe a bit of rit dye and poof and now it is a wonderful new color. I have a friend who tie-dyes all her baby t-shirts to help hide baby stains.

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