This one is for all the parents who, like me, have been spending the valuable toddler years trying to figure out how to get stains out of their kids' clothing.
The only reason I feel compelled to post this is because:
a) I spent months trying to find a formula that actually got my kid’s clothing completely clean more than 50% of the time.
b) I figured all the other parents in the world had this kind of thing figured out, until I talked to a mom at a playground recently who also lamented how quickly a lot of her two-years-old’s nice outfits were becoming play clothes after one use.
First, a quick list of things I’ve tried, and their level of success:
Stain Stick: Stain Stick has been a standby at our household since the day Kara and I got married and moved into an apartment together. Perhaps once a month or so, one of us would accidentally dump something on ourselves, and The Stick probably got everything clean, say, 98% of the time. The big problems were generally things like olive oil, which just plain doesn’t come out easily.
I will say this: Stain Stick works really, really well. The problem is context – kids don’t get one dot of sauce on an outfit. When my little one comes home, it appears that she was playing paintball.
You can run a Stain Stick over that, but you better not have anything planned for the night. So that became sort of worthless.
Oxi Clean: For some reason, parents love this stuff. You take a scoop, throw it in some water, soak the clothes, and presto! Nothing happens, and you’ve still got a bunch of dirty clothing.
Oxi Clean worked perhaps 50% of the time, but I’m convinced that the clothing that came clean would have come clean even if I hadn’t soaked the clothing in advance.
Oxi Clean Max: This is a spray bottle that informs you that once you spray something, it MUST be in the wash 10 minutes later.
I’ll say this for it – the spray works, say, 80% of the time. Unfortunately, it still has to be applied everywhere your stains are. So if the wee one looks like she’s been playing paintball, chances are good that you either a) miss a spot, or b) spend lots and lots and lots of time trying to spray every inch of her clothing on laundry day.
So it’s useful, but not practical.
Color Safe Bleach: This, folks, is the magic bullet, and I say that in all seriousness.
A story: The little one was having lunch with us. Pasta. Red sauce. New dress, with a white collar. Guess what happened? Right.
I tried soaking the dress, then washing it. It did not come clean.
I tried the spray, then I washed the dress again. It did not come clean.
I tried the Stain Stick, then washed the dress again. It did not come clean.
I figured, “You know what? The dress is wrecked anyway. If the bleach makes it worse, so be it.”
And guess what? I washed that dress, and you would never ever guess that the thing had ever been worn, much less sauce-smeared.
So, to all you parents spraying and sticking and washing and hoping to get more wear out of clothing, I say this:
Stick all the clothing that seems like a lost cause into a separate pile.
Find a washer with a “bleach” slot in it.
Put the color-safe bleach in the slot.
Wash the clothing normally.
Weep for joy over not having to spend an hour in your basement hunting for stains.