Laundry. A never ending task. Just when you think you are caught up, more always shows up. Sometimes it feels like it appears out of nowhere or it’s impossible to keep kids clothes clean. You may be wondering where on earth do all these clothes come from? Between spills, messy eating, playing outside, school, sports, and activities, kids create a lot of laundry.
From day 1 as a baby, soiling clothes was natural for kids. Between urinating and pooping through clothes to spitting up and throwing up on them, laundry has always been a time consuming task with kids. But, what if there was a way to decrease your laundry? Follow these tips on how to keep kids clothes clean and save yourself time and money with doing less laundry.
Avoid Stains to Keep Kids Clothes Clean
The best way to keep kids clothes clean is to avoid stains and dirty clothes to begin with. I know this is easier said than done. However, if you can take precautions to avoid stains, it will save you some laundry, money on clothes, and time working on stains.
How Children Should Eat to Keep Clothes Clean
1. Wear a bib. Babies and young children should wear a bib when they eat. There are many kinds of bibs out there as well. If your child drops a lot of food try a bib with a pocket.
2. Eat at a table or high chair. Keep them in a high chair or booster seat as long as possible to eat. Snacks that are messy or not dry should also be eaten in a high chair or at a table. I can recall a few specific instances when I shared my food with my toddler in our living room. It ended up with me getting extremely frustrated with myself when my toddler spilled on himself and the carpet. I should have known that even as careful as I was, that anything can happen with young children and food.
3. Sit properly at the table. Make sure their chair is pushed in as far as possible so there is not space between them and the table. The child should sit on their behind with legs in front of them and feet on the floor. Train them to eat over their plate so access food goes on the plate, not on their clothes.
What to Wear/Not to Wear to Keep Kids Clothes Clean
4. Avoid wearing white. As cute as white clothes are and the many fun styles they come in, white clothes are not meant for babies and young kids. White does not hide dirt or stains and is difficult to keep clean. If your baby or child is wearing white, serve them food that does not stain. For example, I would suggest not having spaghetti and meatballs when your child is wearing white.
5. Wear old/dark clothes. Dress your child in dark colors or old clothes when going outside or doing anything messy. This could include painting or other art, bubbles, playdoh, and eating. If there is food I am going to feed my child that I know stains or from experience has stained their clothes before, I make sure they are wearing old or dark clothes. For example, mac n cheese tends to stain my kids clothes and is difficult for me to get out. Plus they always end up spilling a couple of noodles. So I only will serve them mac n cheese on days when they are wearing dark or older clothes.
In addition, if you are at home, take off their shirt and potentially pants if eating something messy to keep the clothes clean. Another trick I use is on nights they have to take a bath, I serve something more messy for dinner and then have them go right from eating into the bathtub. Lastly, as much as possible, I have my kids eat their breakfast before they get dressed. This way any spills go onto their jammies instead of their outfit for the day.
How to Clean Stained or Dirty Clothes
You did everything you could to avoid a stain; however, the inevitable happens. Your child will get stains on their clothes. If you are like me you wonder how could this have still happened after all the precautions I took, but it does. Every or every other day at my house:)
6. Take care of the stain as soon as possible. When your child gets a stain, treat and handle the item as soon as possible – do not wait. At days end I usually check over my toddlers clothes and if I see a specific stain I will treat and handle it that night. And if not that night, for sure the next morning because once it sits for a while or gets washed without pretreating, the stain is much more difficult to remove.
7. Apply a stain remover. Apply a stain remover to the soiled area and scrub with your finger nail fast or with the bottle handle of the stain remover. If the stain does not seem to be subsiding, try rubbing it in different directions. For baby/toddler stains I like to use dreft. For school aged children and adults I use shout. More importantly than the brand, the timing is key to apply stain spray ASAP.
8. Soak the soiled item. Soak the clothing item after applying stain remover. (If it is a tough stain, you may need to soak it for a few hours to a few days). I have a washer that has a basket on top specifically to soak an item or two. It was part of the reason we got it 4 years ago with a baby and now having 2 small kids, it has been used plenty. We also have a small sink in the laundry room that we plug and soak items in as well. For a bad stain, I have already repeated the applying stain remover/soaking cycle 2-3 times until the stain has lifted.
9. Check the clothing label before washing. Different clothes have different instructions or specific cleaning instructions. Typically, the manufacturer who made the clothing item gives instructions how to clean that particular item so follow their advice.
Other Tips to Keep Kids Clothes Looking New
10. Wash clothes regularly. I do laundry loads of my kids clothes usually 2 times a week. If a shirt or pants sits in the hamper for a week or two it is tougher to get completely clean, especially if stained, and may have a bad smell. Another reason to do laundry at least weekly is they sometimes want to wear something that is in the hamper. Although most importantly, I end up doing the kids laundry a couple times a week so stained and soiled clothes don’t have time to set in. After I treat and soak stained clothes, washing the clothes completes the cycle of keeping kids clothes clean. Typically, clothes go in the hamper after they wear an outfit for a day.
11. Change diapers frequently. Besides not being good for their skin and body, urine and poop will leak through to clothes if left in a diaper too long. Check diapers at least every 2-3 hours – more often if they are under 12 months. Once you smell, see, or feel poop or urine change the diaper immediately.
12. Teach your kids how to wipe. An important yet difficult part of potty training is teaching your child how to wipe properly after having a bowel movement. If you don’t, there will be stains in their underwear or worse on their clothes. Learning proper wiping can take some time. It took my son almost a year to fully “get it”.
13. Use free & clear products for children with sensitive skin. One final tip is to be aware that detergent and dryer sheets can irritate a child’s skin. To be safe, use a free and clear detergent for babies and toddlers. Also if you need a free and clear dryer sheet they make those as well.
Final Thoughts on Cleaning Children’s Clothes
Keeping kids clothes clean is a mighty task, but by taking some preventative measures you can help avoid lots of stained clothes or clothes you have to trash because they are soiled. Remember to check clothes over at the end of the day. Then, treat and soak them as soon as you can before the stain has a chance to set in. These tricks may be used for adults too:)