How to Get Poop Stains Out of Clothes: 7 Effective Ways

It’s a universal truth that everyone has unexpected bathroom moments. Parents, especially those with young kids in the midst of potty training, are familiar with dealing with soiled underwear. Surprisingly, even adults, including marathon athletes, who are typically in excellent health, may experience inconvenient accidents during races, giving a new meaning to the phrase “running shorts.”

Accidents happen to the best of us. While it’s not the most comfortable topic, dealing with poop stains on clothes requires quick and effective cleaning. However, these stubborn stains can be a bit tricky to remove and may need some special techniques. Here are eight simple methods to effectively get rid of poop stains from your clothes.

Can Poop Stains Be Removed?

Dealing with the occasional poop stain is manageable, but it becomes more challenging if you don’t address it promptly. It’s crucial to apply stain removers before tossing anything with feces stains into a hot water wash.

Poop stains are protein-based, similar to blood, grass, and milk stains. If exposed to heat, these protein stains can set and form a strong bond with the fibers of your clothes, making them extremely difficult to eliminate. It’s essential to avoid hot water and, especially, the dryer until the stain is completely gone. While the washing machine can be useful in removing poop stains, starting with a hot water cycle may worsen the situation.

How to Get Poop Stains Out of Clothes

A great method for removing poop stains from clothes is to use an enzyme cleaner during a cold water soak. Enzymes, particularly protease enzymes, are targeted substances that break down stains, allowing them to lift off the fabric. Many top-notch laundry detergents incorporate a mix of enzymes to provide thorough cleaning against various substances.

However, enzyme cleaners might not always be readily available, and they may not be suitable for all types of clothing. It’s advisable to steer clear of enzyme cleaners for baby clothes and cloth diapers, as these are common places for poop stains.

Enzyme cleaners and harsh detergents can potentially irritate a child’s sensitive skin and damage materials like silk and wool—both protein fibers that could break down during washing.

If you don’t have an enzyme cleaner or it’s not suitable for the material, there are plenty of alternative options that don’t rely on chemical stain removers. Most of these items are already in your home:

  • Cold water wash
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Squeezed lemon juice
  • Vodka
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Let’s delve into how each of these can be used to effectively remove poop stains from clothes.

1. Cold Water Wash

To start, rinse the poop-stained clothing in cold water. Cold water helps to loosen excess poop and prevents it from setting, as using hot or warm water can make the stain more challenging to remove. For baby poop clothes or underwear, run them under cool water or let them soak for about 10 minutes. This helps large pieces of poop to fall away and prepares the stain for the next cleaning step.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda, a versatile household staple, is effective for various tasks, from neutralizing fridge odors to cleaning sinks. After washing the poop-stained clothes in cold water, use baking soda to tackle any remaining brown stains.

Sprinkle baking soda onto the damp stain, then gently scrub with a soft brush until the stain is lifted.

As an alternative, consider using a baking soda paste as a pre-treatment for poop stains before tossing the clothes into the washing machine. Mix baking soda and water in a 2:1 ratio to create a thick paste. Apply it to the stained clothes, let it sit for about 30 minutes, scrub lightly with a brush, and rinse it away with water.

3. Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is another versatile cleaning agent that works well as an alternative to baking soda. The acetic acid in white vinegar actively breaks down stains and helps eliminate poop odors.

For safe and effective use without damaging the fabric, start with a diluted white vinegar solution:

  • Mix one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar with one quart of cool water.
  • You can either use a well-shaken spray bottle to spritz the stain or fill a bowl to soak the affected garment.
  • Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to break down the stain, then scrub the poop stain with a soft brush to make it disappear.
  • For an extra cleaning boost, add a drop or two of dish soap to the solution.

Whether you’re dealing with tough stains on baby clothes or colored underwear, white vinegar provides a reliable and hypoallergenic cleaning solution without the risk of staining. Even apple cider vinegar can offer safe cleaning without the worry of leaving stains behind.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice, thanks to its citric acid, not only brightens clothes but also effectively removes stains. It acts as a natural bleach substitute, which is great for stained white clothes. However, be cautious when using it on dark colors, as it can fade or strip them.

To use lemon juice, squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit for 15–30 minutes. Gently work on the stain with a brush until there’s minimal or no lingering poop.

You can then either wash the clothes or follow up with a baking soda paste or hydrogen peroxide cleaner to complete the cleaning process.

5. Vodka

Clear vodka serves as a useful solvent for various stains on carpets and clothes, including poopy clothes. When dealing with stained clothes, spray or dab them with a cloth soaked in vodka.

Allow the alcohol to work for about 10–15 minutes, blot it dry with a clean cloth, and let the remaining alcohol evaporate, which may take a few hours. Avoid using flavored vodka, as it could potentially stain the clothes.

6. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is an excellent color-safe stain remover and a top choice for thoroughly cleaning various poopy clothes, including darker underwear and cloth diapers.

After rinsing the poop stain with cold water, soak the clothes in a mixture of oxygen bleach dissolved in warm water. Let them sit in the solution for an hour or longer until it successfully removes all the poop stains.

7. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is like oxygen bleach’s secret weapon—it’s an oxidizer that breaks down chemical bonds in stains, making them vanish.

Create a mixture of cold water and hydrogen peroxide in a 4:1 ratio for soaking clothes.

To boost its cleaning power, add a couple of drops of dish soap. Soak the soiled clothes for 10–15 minutes, or you can spot-treat specific areas by putting the solution in a spray bottle.

Remove the Poop Stain Before Washing

Ideally, your initial treatment should completely remove poop stains. If your first attempts don’t entirely eliminate the stains, avoid using a hot water machine wash, as it can set the stain further. Instead, consider cleaning the poop-stained clothes in the washing machine with laundry detergent and cold or warm water, adding bleach or oxygen bleach if suitable.

A cold water wash with laundry detergent in the washing machine can be a helpful first step in getting rid of poop stains from clothes. Remember to rinse off excess poop before adding the clothes to the machine to maintain cleanliness. Also, avoid washing poopy laundry with other clothes to prevent additional stains.

How to Avoid Poop Stains on Clothes

Dealing with poop stains on clothes is not a task anyone enjoys. While occasional accidents may happen, persistent issues with poop stains in your clothes can be tackled with a few preventive measures.

1. Monitor Your Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial, particularly when it comes to fiber intake. A proper amount of dietary fiber can prevent the occurrence of soft stools that may lead to skid marks. Adequate fiber helps your colon bacteria process stool more efficiently, resulting in firmer stools that reduce the likelihood of leaving behind poop stains on your clothes.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance, as an excess of certain fiber-rich foods like beans, lentils, and vegetables can cause bloating and gas, potentially leading to unintentional bowel movements.

Similarly, dairy products and certain beverages like coffee and alcohol can have laxative effects. Paying attention to your diet can help regulate your bowel movements and minimize the risk of staining.

2. Revise Your Wiping Technique

Improper wiping technique is a common culprit for frequent poop marks in clothes. Even if you think you’re thorough with regular toilet paper, small amounts may still be missed, ending up in your clothes.

Recognizing that toilet paper isn’t always 100% effective, consider upgrading to flushable wet wipes for a more thorough cleaning. Wet wipes are gentler on the sphincter, less irritating than toilet paper, and more effective at loosening any stuck-on stool, providing an additional layer of cleanliness.

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