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How To Get Breast Milk Stains Out Of Clothes (Simple Guide)

As a new parent, you’ve probably noticed that breast milk stains can be tough to remove from your baby’s clothes. These protein-based stains can be stubborn, but with some clever tips and tricks, you can get those garments looking clean and fresh again. This article will provide you with effective methods to remove breast milk stains from various types of fabrics.

To start, it’s quite important to treat breast milk stains as soon as possible, as fresh stains are easier to remove compared to set-in marks. But don’t worry, if you already have set-in stains, we’ll take you through how to remove these also. 

Not only will these techniques make the task of managing breast milk stains less scary, but they’ll also ensure your little one’s clothes continue to look their best. 

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What You’ll Need

Before we learn how to get breast milk stains out of clothes, you’ll first need to gather the following household items:

  • Gentle laundry detergent 
  • Baking soda 
  • Old toothbrush 
  • White vinegar (optional) 
  • Oxygen bleach (optional)

Why Does Breast Milk Stain

Breast milk is an incredibly miraculous substance that nourishes your baby, but it can also leave some challenging stains on clothes and fabrics. These stains primarily come from two main components of breast milk: protein and fat.

Understanding how these components contribute to breast milk stains might help you tackle them effectively.

Protein stains are often visible as a yellowish discoloration on fabric. These yellow stains result from the proteins in breast milk – such as casein and whey – that can bind to fibers in clothing, making them difficult to remove. 

Fat, on the other hand, creates greasy stains that can be just as stubborn to eliminate. Since breast milk is a combination of both protein and fat, it can lead to particularly persistent staining if not dealt with quickly.

When dealing with breast milk stains, you should try to tackle the stain as soon as you notice it. Fresh stains will be much easier to remove than older, set-in stains. 

How To Get Breast Milk Stains Out Of Clothes

When you notice a fresh breast milk stain on your baby’s clothes or your own nursing pads or shirt, the first thing you should do is to gently blot the excess milk with a clean blanket or burp cloth before attempting to clean the stain.

Next, you should rinse the stained fabric with cold water. Avoid using hot or warm water, as this could actually set the stain, making it even more challenging to remove. So, always opt for a cool water rinse.

​Some baby stain removers can come in handy for tackling these fresh stains on baby clothes. Apply a small amount of baby stain remover or dish soap to the stained area, gently rubbing it into the fabric with your fingers. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to help break down the proteins in the breast milk.

While the stain remover is doing its job, fill a tub with cool water and add a capful of your usual detergent. Place the stained garment into the tub and agitate it by hand. After 15 minutes, give the item another rinse with cold water.

Woman's hands holding white baby grow under running water
Image by Evgeniy Skripnichenko from Getty Images Pro

If the stain remains after this process, try applying a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent and can effectively remove protein-based stains like breast milk.

But be careful with colored fabrics, as hydrogen peroxide can cause discoloration. I suggest testing it on a small, inconspicuous area first, especially on darker clothes.

Leave the hydrogen peroxide on the stain for about 5-10 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

Finally, proceed with your regular laundering process, ensuring you check the stain before putting your baby clothes or nursing pads in the dryer, as the heat may set any remaining residue.

By following these steps, you should be able to remove fresh breast milk stains from clothes effectively. Remember, prompt action and using the right cleaning agents like cold water, baby stain remover, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide are key to keeping your baby’s garments and your own clothes looking clean and fresh.

Treating Set-In Breast Milk Stains

Old breast milk stains can be a bit challenging to remove, and you’ll certainly need a bit of extra effort for complete removal. To begin with, prepare your clothes by rubbing off any crusty areas and turning them inside out. Turning the garments inside out helps in protecting the fabric while you’re treating the stains.

Choose a specialized baby stain remover product or a gentle enzyme-based stain remover to break down the proteins in the breast milk. Apply the stain remover directly onto the area and gently scrub the fabric using an old toothbrush. Focus on the stubborn areas and allow the garment to sit for 15-20 minutes.

Next, prepare an oxygen bleach solution to further treat the stains. Oxygen bleach is preferred as its color-safe and gentle on fabrics. You could also use Oxiclean Baby Stain Remover, which is specially designed for tough stains on baby clothes, as per the product’s instructions. Alternatively, mix a solution of 1 part baking soda to 2 parts water, which can also be effective in treating old stains.


After applying the oxygen bleach solution, let the clothes soak for about an hour. Make sure you read the product label to ensure you’re using the proper soaking time. Once the soaking is completed, inspect the stains to see whether they’re lifting. If they’re still present, repeat the previous steps until the stains have faded considerably.

Lastly, wash the garment as per its care label instructions. It’s important to use warm water and a color-safe detergent during the wash. Cold water might not be as effective in removing any set-in breast milk stains. Remember to avoid using fabric softeners as they can hinder stain removal.

Once the clothes are out of the washing machine, inspect them for any remnants of stains before transferring them to the dryer. If there’s any faint residue, you might need to repeat the treatment process. Otherwise, enjoy your effectively cleaned clothes!

Man holding baby with a burp cloth on his shoulder
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Preventing Breast Milk Stains

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and nutritious way to bond with your baby. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter breast milk stains on your clothes, babygrows, or other fabrics. No need to worry, though! There are several strategies you can use to help prevent these stains from occurring in the first place.

  • Consider wearing nursing pads inside your bra. These absorbent pads can help catch any excess milk, and they can be easily replaced when needed. 
  • Using bibs, muslins, or burp cloths as a barrier during feedings is another practical way to minimize the chances of breast milk stains. Simply put a bib on your baby before feeding, and they’ll catch any spills or dribbles that may otherwise end up on your clothes. Additionally, you can use a blanket or burp cloth, draping it over your shoulder or laying it across your lap while nursing. This extra layer will protect your clothing as well as your baby’s.
  • When it comes to babygrows and other clothing items, you will need to change them frequently. A wet or damp garment can be a haven for stains to set in. Make it a habit to check on your baby’s clothing throughout the day, swapping them out for fresh, dry ones as necessary.
White baby clothes drying on a line
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Washing and Drying Tips for Baby Clothes

To keep your baby’s clothes in great condition and remove breast milk stains, it’s essential to wash them properly. Here are some friendly tips to ensure the best care for your little one’s garments.

  • Firstly, always check the care labels on your baby’s clothes before washing. This will help you select the proper detergent and wash cycle. 
  • Opt for mild and gentle detergents made specifically for babies as they are less likely to irritate sensitive skin. 
  • Avoid using fabric softeners, such as Fairy fabric softener, as they may contain harmful chemicals.
  • When washing baby clothes, use the normal wash cycle to save both energy and water. This cycle is designed to effectively clean moderately soiled garments. 
  • To prevent colors from bleeding, remember to separate dark and light colored clothes before washing.
  • In terms of drying, it’s best to air dry your baby’s clothes whenever possible. This method is gentle on fabrics and helps retain their shape and softness. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to dry garments, reducing energy consumption.
  • Finally, always inspect baby clothes for remaining stains before folding and storing them. This ensures that stains don’t get set into the fabric, making it more difficult to remove them at a later stage.
Bowl of lemon slices

Natural Remedies for Breast Milk Stains

Sometimes, you might get breast milk stains on your clothes and want a natural way to remove them without using any chemicals. Luckily, there are a few effective natural remedies to tackle these stains.

First, you can try using lemon juice. Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and works wonders on many types of stains, including breast milk.

To use lemon juice on a stain, simply squeeze a lemon to get its juice, and then apply it directly onto the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse the stained area with cold water. You can repeat this process as necessary if the stain persists.

Another popular natural stain remover is white vinegar. White vinegar has a mild acidic property that can help break down the proteins in breast milk stains, which makes it easier to remove.

To use vinegar as a stain remover, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl, then dip a cloth into the mixture and dab it onto the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse with cold water. To get the best results, make sure to use distilled white vinegar.

Some more natural ways to remove breast milk stains are:

  • Baking soda: Create a paste by mixing baking soda and water, and apply it onto the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then brush it off with a soft cloth, and rinse with cold water.
  • Sunlight: The ultraviolet rays of the sun can sometimes help bleach out the stain naturally. After using any of the above treatments, hang your clothing in direct sunlight to let the sun do its work. Make sure to keep an eye on your clothing, as prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to fabric weakening.

No matter which natural stain remover you choose, it’s always necessary to address the stain as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to remove. 

Handling Unusual Surfaces

Breast milk stains can be a bit trickier to remove from surfaces like carpets and blankets or burp cloths. 

For carpets, you’ll need to act quickly to absorb as much of the spill as possible. Gently blot the area with a clean, damp cloth or sponge without rubbing, as this can spread the stain.

Next, mix a solution of warm water and mild detergent, just enough to create some suds. Gently dab the carpet with the soapy sponge, allowing it to soak into the fibers. Rinse the area by using a clean white cloth dampened with water, only pressing down lightly. Finally, use another dry, clean cloth to blot the area and remove any lingering moisture.

When it comes to blankets or burp cloths made of different fabrics, it’s best to check the care label for specific washing instructions.

Generally, you can pre-treat the stain by gently rubbing some laundry detergent or a stain remover into the affected area before washing. Remember to use cold water, as hot water can set the stain, making it even more challenging to remove.

If you’re dealing with a mixed baby formula stain, you might need a more robust cleaning approach. Begin by using a spoon or scraper to remove as much of the formula as possible from the surface.

Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water, and gently dab the area, making sure the stained area is saturated. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing with cold water. After rinsing, follow the same procedure as mentioned above for breast milk stain removal.

Remember, always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous spot to ensure it won’t cause damage or discoloration to the material. And if you have difficulty removing the stain, we suggest calling in a professional dry cleaner. They have specialized tools and products to remove practically any type of stain!  


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Tips for Maintaining Baby Clothes

Caring for newborn baby clothes can be quite a task, as if caring for the newborn wasn’t tough enough! To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will make maintaining your little one’s wardrobe easier.

Firstly, always use a gentle detergent like Fairy Non Bio when laundering baby clothes. It is specially formulated for sensitive skin and ensures that your baby’s delicate skin won’t be irritated. Also, consider adding a scent booster to the laundry. This will leave the clothes smelling super fresh and clean without causing any irritation to the baby.

Patience is essential when dealing with stubborn breast milk stains. Pre-treat the stain with a suitable stain remover before washing, and let it sit for a few minutes to work its magic. You may need to repeat this process a couple of times to completely remove the stain.

Here are a few more useful tips to keep your baby’s clothes in great condition:

  • Wash baby clothes separately: This minimizes the risk of transferring stains and keeps the clothes extra clean.
  • Use a mesh laundry bag: Place small items like socks and bibs in a mesh laundry bag to prevent them from getting lost in the washing machine.
  • Dry on low heat: High heat can cause baby clothes to shrink. To maintain the size and shape, tumble dry on low heat or air dry, if possible.

By following these friendly tips, you’ll find that maintaining your baby’s clothes and keeping them in good condition is much more manageable. Remember, practice makes perfect and soon you’ll become a pro at dealing with those pesky stains.


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