To clean the uncleanable

Baby may be one of the tiniest people in your life, but they definitely make some of the biggest messes. And once they transition to solid foods, the contents of their diapers may change a little, but they probably won&;t be any more help in changing them.

When Baby’s messiest disasters hit, having a plan ready can cut down on the clothing and linens that are sacrificed to stains forever. If you have a serious aversion to vomit or poo (as opposed to a great interest in it!), latex or rubber gloves are always super helpful to grab before cleaning up. But if that’s not an option or necessity, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Clothes, linens, and other detachable surfaces

  • Clothing that’s been stained with baby poop or vomit is at least partially a protein stain. The first thing you want to do is scrape off any solids and dispose of them, as they can clog a bathroom sink or tub, and then run the piece of cloth under cold water. The water will keep the stain from setting, and the cold will keep the protein from cooking into the fabric – it’s the same principle behind soaking out stains from menstrual blood in cold running water first.
  • Running water helps the stain drain away instead of soaking in with the fabric. If you need to wait to deal with the fabric because Baby is calling, put the fabric in a basin, sink, or tub to soak. Just be sure that if you’re leaving out a container of standing water, it’s in a room that’s fully blocked off so Baby can’t get in.
  • When you’ve run the fabric under water, add soap or stain remover and scrub with your fingers, a rag, or a nail brush. Then spray it with stain remover and leave it to soak for an hour or longer.
  • When you do wash the garment-in-question, wash it on warm or hot with your regular detergent and stain remover, and if it’s been stained with baby poop, don’t wash it in with the rest of the family laundry.
  • When it’s been through the wash, air dry it in the sun if possible, because sunlight can also help to get rid of protein stains. Really anywhere you can find to dry it will work, but putting it in the dryer can set the stain, and wet fabric can look like a stain has been fully removed, when really it’s just waiting there to pop out at you as soon as it’s dry.
  • Whether you’ve used a bathtub, a bathroom sink, or a basin to soak things in, be sure to fully disinfect it before you use it for anything else, especially if you were using it to clean cloth stained with poop.

Non-detachable surfaces (couch, carpeting, mattresses)

Surfaces that can’t be stripped down and thrown in the sink or tub and under running water, like your couch, carpeting,  or mattresses can be a bit more tricky, but are still manageable. Note that it’s not a good idea to use vinegar or abrasive cleaners on your car seat as they can weaker the seat buckles and straps. But for your couch, carpeting, and mattress:

  • The first thing you want to deal with on these surfaces is odor – a stain can be covered up, but a bad smell is forever. Start by blotting with clean water, then apply a fairly thick layer of baking soda, thick enough to completely coat the surface of the stain, and leave it to dry for a few hours.
  • When the baking soda is dry, vacuum it up.
  • Next, dab the stain with water, then dab it dry, and then do the same thing with white vinegar, and then with detergent or dish soap. Voila- just like new! Until next time, that is.
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