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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm so beyond frustrated at this point so I'm going to you all for help, tips, and advice.

Kayla has to be one of the messiest kids I know when it comes to eating and doing artwork. She's pretty careless when she's holding a marker, paintbrush, or pen, not paying attention to when she's waving her arm around. So she tends to get a lot of marks on her shirts.

Couple that with a mother who very obviously doesn't seem to have laundry as a strong point, and you have a kid with some kind of stain on just about every shirt she owns.

Again, I'm beyond frustrated. It's hard to dress her every morning when I'm looking at faded stains throughout her wardrobe. I hate buying new clothes, or even clothes from the thrift shop, because I know after a couple of wearings (sometimes even just one) they will end up being stained too.

I feel like I've tried every stain remover out there, but I just am not doing something right. Ok I did find out one thing I wasn't doing right. I only recently found out that if the stain did not come out after being washed do not put it in the dryer as the heat will set the stain (yes I just recently found this out - I told you laundry is not one of my stronger points). I do wash in cold water so at least there is that.

I heard about Goop from Ann at Its Always A Production and for the most part that seems to work pretty well; I've been impressed with it.

But what do you guys do when your child comes home and you see paint, or ink, or food, or what have you, on their shirt? What is the first thing you do? I can't always wash the shirt the same day because sometimes I've just done the laundry and I'm not going to put one piece of clothing in the washer...so what happens when you have nothing else to wash?

Here is an example. Last week Kayla went to school wearing this brand new shirt for the first time and this is how she came home (this was definitely one of her more messy days as it's usually not that bad):

Blue marker, or paint, (I'm not sure which, and I don't think they use "washable" in their classroom - for preschoolers!) on one sleeve.

Pink on the other sleeve

On the other side of above sleeve was a nice big glob of ketchup:

so when she put that arm down the ketchup then spread to the side and back of her shirt:

(Maybe I need to find a kids smock to send to school and have them put it on her when she does artwork and ask them to roll up her sleeves!)

I put Goop all over everything and let it sit in that. Before I washed it I also sprayed it with Oxy spray remover (or something). For the most part everything came out; except some faded blue on the one sleeve. I air dried it. I've put more Goop on it and am praying it will come out with a second washing; but I don't really have any other clothes to wash since it's just us and I just did the laundry, but I know I can't let it sit for days either!

I guess I'll continue to use the Goop, but once you're done laughing at my ineptitude to do laundry, do you have any other suggestions?

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Tara said...

Michelle, I have the same problem with Payton....I end up usually buying her clothes at garage sales (Bob asked me just yesterday when Payton would stop being so messy!). Anyways, we use a product called De-Solv-It and it removes grass stains, crayons, blood, etc. and we've been pretty pleased with it. Shout also has a new product out that is supposed to work for set-in stains. I haven't tried it yet but my sister says it works wonders. I enjoyed reading your post because i have the same problems!!!!

Tara said...

sorry, meant to tell you, you can get de-solv-it at walmart. :)

Amy said...

Lol, I was just online this morning trying to figure out the secret to getting set-in spagettio stains out. Last week Avery smeared them all over her of course, and then got me in my favorite shirt!Come to find out my shirt is pretty much doomed. This list was very comprehensive

Christina said...

Oh man...I want to know where to get that goop..I tried to go to the site but it wasn't cooperating!

Robin said...

I have heard that soaking clothes overnight in Oxyclean takes lots of stains out. I haven't tried it myself, but a friend of ours who lives on a ranch swears by it.
Good Luck - I'm sure this is very frustrating!

Corey~living and loving said...

oooo stains soooooooo annoy me.
I have a small bucket that I keep in my laundry room just for stained clothes. I treat it...with all sorts of stain stuff, and use an old toothbrush to scrub on it...and soak it in the bucket with BIZ. I get about 98% of all stains out...but it takes a ton of work. ugh....

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I use good old Shout/Spray and Wash or Fels Naptha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fels-Naptha) soap for the most part. I spray on the stuff or rub on the soap and scrub like crazy with an old tooth brush. If I'm not washing it right away, I soak it in a bucket of cold water with a little laundry detergent. For things like the marker or paint I use Woolite Oxy Deep Rug Cleaner (yep, rug cleaner). Seems to work better for some reason. And again, scrub the heck out of it with the tooth brush. For ink, try spraying it with hair spray and dab it with a cloth.
I have a book called Haley's Cleaning Hints by Graham And Rosemary Haley that has a bunch of useful cleaning tips too.

Beck said...

I use a fantastic laundry add-in (Amaze!) that removes most stains, but I think it might be Canadian only. I'll check at the grocery store tonight, adn you can email me if you want more information.

Jen said...

A. You can buy second hand shirts at Consignment stores.....and make sure these are her school shirts

B. As soon as she comes home take the shirt off and spray it with your stain remover soak in water and spot it again before you wash.

Madison was always dirty from preschool with paints....I shopped second hand stores and let her wear those to school and spotted them as well as I could...the good thing is they grow out of them fast....second hand stores...look in the yellow pages for them. They are great.

Cate said...

I keep a bucket by the laundry and put things to soak in Oxyclean.

Also, I try to buy dark colored-clothes.

LauraJ said...

Buy a large smock that will go over her clothes! At home you could only use those wonder markers by crayola...they don't mark anything! ummmm....you're doing the best you can with what you've described to get them stains out. Another thing I heard was Dawn dish detergent...dab it on the stain scrub with a toothbrush rinse in cold water repeat until the stain comes out and let it be until wash day. For tough marker stains try hairspray or pure alcohol.

Shelley said...

I use Oxiclean. I buy the liquid and the powder. Soak the clothes in the powdered oxiclean and water if it's a tough stain. If you use the liquid, you can spray it directly onto the stain and scrub it with a toothbrush. I also put the powdered oxiclean into the washing machine. So far, the oxiclean has never let me down. I use it on my carpet too. It's gotten out everything....blood, grass, marker, food....even mud and such that my husband brings home from the doggies at work. Many times I have used oxiclean and a toothbrush to get a stain out of favorite outfits.

I also agree that maybe you should send a smock or an oversized tshirt to the school. Why do they not use washable products with preschoolers???? And why do they not have smocks and such to protect the kids' clothes???? Odd.

Pam said...

Michelle~ I know this may sound simple, but I read it somewhere else recently on another mommy blog . . . sunshine. While the clothes are still damp from the washer, hang them or lay them on a towel outside, flipping as needed. If the stain is super stubborn, add some diluted lemon juice and water in a spritzer bottle and spritz the stain before the sunshine. Hope that helps. We are full of stains here, too.

Ladyblog said...

I have also heard that if you leave the clothes out in the sun it removes the stains. Apparently, this is big in the South although I never heard of it before a couple of months ago.
Another tip is to use hydrogen peroxide on organic stains mostly, ie. foods, etc.
Good luck with the neverending battle of laundry! :-)

Glo said...

Don't know if it will work,but when my son played football I would soak his "White" pants in electrasol( not sure of spelling)dish washer power,then wash like always. Worked like a dream on grass stain. Poor boy he had the whites pants on the teem.
Making one of your old shirts or Dads into a paint shirt for her might work. You could even put her name on it to make it special. Also for home I'd invest in some colorwonder markers from Crayola they come off on special paper and nothing else.
Just my thoughts hope they help.

Much More Than A Mom said...

I have no idea but I'm loving all the comments about it!

killlashandra said...

Goof Off. Ok, this stuff smells awful and I would recommend applying it to clothing outside or near an open window, however, it does work.

I've actually combined rubbing Goof Off into the clothing and then spraying with Triple Action stain remover spray of some kind, letting it sit for 5 or 10 minutes then running it through a cold cold wash with bleach. Of course this is only good for white clothing...

I got pine sap and tar out of one of my step son's white sweatshirts that way.

Good luck, I'm not sure it gets any better regardless of age. My teenagers are just as bad as my 2 year old!

Tammy said...

I rub in that oxy-clean stuff in before washing. But sometimes my dear, sweet helpful husband does the laundry and throws everything into the washer and then the dryer without checking for stains...so we have our share of stained clothes here, too...both kids clothes and men's! ;)

Tammy and Parker said...

Dear Michelle,

As the Mother of SIX kids, may I suggest purchasing clothes in DARK colors. Dark blue, dark red, etc.

Then just don't look too closely at her shirt sleeves.


Once Upon a Dream... said...

Michelle, I'm totally surprised that they do not have washable colors at the school. Do the kids have smocks? If not, maybe you could send one in with her or you could even take an old long-sleeved shirt and have her wear that over her clothes when she does any art/painting/coloring, etc.

Also, hit up some yard sales for some clothes that you don't mind her messing up.

Olyvia always has tons of stains and I use Dreft and it removes most of them.

Nisa said...

Heh heh... Rhi is 10 and Nate is 8 and I still have LOTS of stains to deal with. I use "Shout" on everything and it works pretty well. I would say it gets about 98% of stains out, and yeah, I have used that Goof off stuff too, but it does smell horrible. Be careful if you scrub stains with a toothbrush... If you scrub too hard the stain might be gone, but then clothing may look "thinner" in that spot. I started rewarding Nate when he was clean after a day of school... 10 minutes of extra play time, reading time etc. That works. Before that I had lots of smocks. Something about comletely "ruining" one of Daddy's shirts is so much fun to them both.

Anonymous said...

For tough stains (like school paint)soak in a bucket/pail filled with TIDE (must be Tide), Oxy Clean & Water for aprox 24hours the stain should start to lift... make sure the stain is pretty much gone BEFORE you throw them in the washer.

I wash pretty much everything in warm water, not cold (unless reccomended by the garment manufacturer)... when washing with cold water you will always have a harder time getting stains out. Warm/hot water cleans everything better/easier than cold water (think about washing dishes with cold water it taked FOREVER doesn't it?)

I am also a big fan of Borax (for whites) and I use Zout for my first try at stains like 'washable' markers or drool.

I would ask if she is wearing a smock and has her sleves rolled up for such activities... if not offer to supply one for her... a long sleve botton down shirt from a thrift store should work.

Karen said...

Oh the joys eh? I have cheaper clothes for my daughter to wear when she goes to Kindy, so I don't worry if she gets paint on them, as they have been real bargain clothes. At home I don't let her paint, draw unless she has her smock thingy on, which pretty much covers most of her. But I know just what you mean.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher of a class of preschool students with disabilities, it's insane to me that they don't use washable products or all the teacher/staff clothes would be ruined as well.

I can also tell you that no matter how many smocks you send in or how many times her sleeves are rolled up they will still get dirty. When your trying to manage a group (only if it is even 2 children) of preschoolers with art supplies or food it only takes a glance away and they have something on them. And to be honest, if she's getting messy that probably means she's getting into it, enjoying herself, and benefitting from the experience. I always ask parents to send their kids to school in clothes they don't mind getting messy because if I focus on the mess they are making it takes my focus away from more important things.

In the end, I hate stains and it would frustrate me too. I'm glad I learned some good stain tips.

Anonymous said...

Laundress here!

My mom taught me to put Dawn dishwashing detergent on stains. Put it on, rub it in with an old toothbrush and launder. If it is something white, you can use the bleach pen. I always use detergent with Oxyclean built in. (One less step.) If they are really crubby, you can put them in to set overnight in the washer. Let them agitate for a few minutes and turn the washer off. Turn it back on in the morning. Spray and Wash Dual (a double bottle sprinkle on stuff) works WONDERS!

Julie said...

Sometimes soaking stuff in the oxy powder and water works. It has taken blood out of stuff for me.(Grace's name does not suit her. :)) Shout works well if you rub it in the stain right away. I have also just recently learned that if colors run clorox 2 will take most of it out. I have become a pro at laundry. I wonder if I could make a career out of that? Good luck.

Leslie said...

We use a combo of Goo Gone and Spray n Wash or Shout. Spray the heck out of it and wash over and over and over...

Also, Dawn dishwashing liquid helps too. Lots of elbow grease with a toothbrush and persistance.

I just went through about 4 shirts this morning trying to find one without a stain on it...except I was looking for a shirt for ME to wear.

Anonymous said...

I can't help with the marker stains, but I find that all of Gabe's organic stains (ie. spaghetti sauce) come out when I soak the clothing item for a few days in liquid laundry detergent and bleach for colorfast clothes. And, I mean "days". Not one day, or even two...sometimes four or five. I always start out with hot water too, and I'll refresh it over the days' wait.

Omaha Mama said...

BLEACH PEN. For any white area on anything! That sleeve looked white in the picture. Bleach pens have worked great for me!

Brenna has never gotten that messy at school, so I guess they wear paint shirts. But both of my kids are messy eaters, so I can definitely relate! I use Shout spray and it usually does the trick.

Catch said...

If I have something that is really stained I have soaked it in some cold water and used some Dawn dish soap on it......Dawn takes out many stains too. AFter I soak it I scrub it real good.......wishing you guys a happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

smileymamaT said...

Actually I had to read the comments to get help! Same problem here, with my 9-yr old, she amazes me with the variety of new colors on her shirt each day. Tide to go stick is good for fresh stains, but set-in, you got me. I'll be following some of this advise!

Karen said...

I think keeping the stain wet would be the best bet until you could wash it. Soak it in whatever solution you choose and then wash when you get a load. I've also heard that sunshine is a good stain fighter.

I have to say that I'm a bit envious of your lack of laundry. With 4 kids I do laundry daily, most times several loads. It's truly never ending.

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

I have no good advice... I'm just as in need as you. I have a toddler and a pre-schooler - my world has MESSES and STAINS galore! I'm hoping that I read something earth-shattering in here :)

You are awesome Michelle - I love how real you are. ;)


chelle said...

We use Spray and wash but the kind that has two sides that mixes together .... seems to get it all out. Just never used it with powered detergent .... stains the clothes. Good luck!

Sniz said...

I think your idea about the smock is the best one. I just spray things with Shout and let them sit up to a week...but if I do that, I re-spray them every day so they are always a little damp with Shout. Most stuff comes out. When the kids were little, I put bibs on them, the kind that go over their shoulders and down to their knees. They covered all their cute clothes, but they were never without one on.

Anonymous said...

I hate stains too!My Mom told me about Dawn dish soap for stains. It really does work. When my kids come home with a stain i treat it with dawn.I also give it a good scrubbing
before i wash the item.
love ya,

Mommatude said...

When the kids were in preschool I sent them to school in play clothing.

Certain types of Marker will come out with alcohol but make sure you have something underneath it so that the alcohol will not spread the stains.

Most stuff I just wash immediately.
I havent too much figured it out either.Kendall comes home-still-with stains on her clothes.

A Special Family said...

Oh Michelle, that must be so frustrating. I know a friend of mine started putting dark tops on her kids for school and messy activities at home and got those plastic pre-schooler mess bibs (the huge ones that go over the arms). Sorry I have no help with products, I've never had to do anything other than wash to remove a stain!

Mayhem And Miracles said...

The only reason I am laughing is because Faith is the exact same way with her clothes! There is never a day she goes without prove of her day's adventures or what she had at each meal. :) And believe me, I may have known about not putting it in the dryer, but I AM scouring your comments for what to do once it's air dried and still set! Good luck!

Mayhem And Miracles said...

Well, now that I've read, I'll be trying the sunshine trick and the double shout product. I actually had already bought it but hadn't actually tried it yet. Glad to hear so many endorsements here. I have tried the hairspray on ink though, and it did work for me. Also I have tried Oxyclean and Shout, and the Oxyclean works better for us. Just my two cents. :)

Anonymous said...

My DD is the same way; I simply buy darker-colored tops with some synthetic fiber content. I love cotton tops, but they just don't stay as clean.
Debbie E.

Melody and Doug said...

Hmmmmmmmm, I will have to give Goop a shot myself for my daughter. For a long while Clorox 2 worked fine, but it just doesn't seem to work on her stains anymore.


Barb @ A Chelsea Morning said...

I'm a little late to this party, Michelle, and I sure don't have time to read the other 42 comments, so pardon me if I repeat something someone else said.

You'd be surprised how often peroxide removes a stain. I know for sure it works on organic stains (blood, food).

The toughest stain I've ever encountered is ink. If the color of the fabric is light enough straight bleach works. I dab it on with a q-tip.

I don't know any miracles, but I find myself using peroxide or bleach most times.

Candi said...


I use Shout Advanced gel and it works great. I check each item as it comes out of the wash and if the stain is still there, I spray it again. Strange, but it seems if you spray the stain and don't wash it right away it works better than spraying it and washing it right away. I use a ton of this stuff!! I spray it down real good and rub it in!!