How To Get Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes | Proven Tips

As a parent, it is a delightful experience to choose the cutest outfits for your precious child – baby clothes are simply irresistible!

However, as a mama, you also know how IMPOSSIBLE it is to keep those cute outfits clean throughout the day.

It seems like babies attract messes and enjoy ruining one cute outfit after another — not to mention how expensive those clothes are! 

Fortunately, a formula spill does not necessarily mean that you have to toss that cute outfit or break the bank buying another one.

While formula can definitely create some pesky stains, there is hope for your little one’s ever-messy clothes.

There are tons of methods out there for removing even the toughest stains, and I’m going to share some of the best with you here! 

How To Get Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes

Regardless of what stain remover you choose to use, there is a basic method for getting formula stains out of your little one’s clothes. 

Step 1: Pretreat

It is important to pretreat stains before washing in order to give the stain remover time to work and lift the stain.

To pretreat, spray your choice of stain remover (either a product or a homemade recipe) directly onto the stain.

Rub it gently using a toothbrush or a cloth, and allow it to set for a few minutes to an hour depending on the stain.

Depending on what stain removal method you use, you may set your garment in the sun for a bit while it is being pretreated. 

Step 2: Load and Wash

Load your laundry as usual, and choose the appropriate cycle. Wash as normal with laundry detergent. 

Step 3: Check

Once the garment is done washing, check to see if the stain is gone before tossing it into the dryer.

Drying a stain can set it and make it more difficult, or impossible, to remove. If the stain is still there, repeat the process. If it is gone, continue to dry it as usual. 

Step 4: Dry

After you’ve checked that the stain is gone, dry the garment as usual. 

Stain Removers

If you aren’t opposed to using products with chemicals, there are several tried-and-true stain removers that will do the trick. 

Dreft Laundry Stain Remover

Dreft is specifically formulated for tough stains on infant clothing and other baby products.

If you read its reviews, you will find thousands of happy mamas that swear by this stain remover to get rid of the toughest formula stains.

OxiClean Baby Stain Remover

Can’t forget about OxiClean! It’s one of the most tried-and-true products that many mamas love. 


Zout (not to be confused with Shout) is another stain remover that many people love.

While it is not specifically for baby stains, it is known to work like a charm and get rid of just about any stain you can imagine. 

Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover

Many people claim that this stain treatment is a miracle worker! From formula stains to blood, grease, and grass stains, this product seems to be able to do it all. 

Clean baby clothes in a laundry basket and on a clothesline outside.

Natural Options

Many people overlook the power of the natural products that you probably already have in your cabinets.

While I do use some stain removers to get out stains, I have also relied heavily on natural products and have not been disappointed. 


White vinegar is an all-around powerhouse cleaner! It is inexpensive, gentle on fabrics, and much safer than bleach. 

Pre-treat your formula-stained clothes by soaking them in a vinegar/water mixture. Mix one part water with one part white vinegar, and allow the garment to soak for half an hour or so before washing.

Then, wash as usual and say bye-bye to your stain. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another good natural stain remover to try. Using 3% hydrogen peroxide, soak the stain, and allow it to sit for five minutes before washing as usual.  


Ammonia is another powerhouse cleaner. Ask your grandma — I bet she uses it to clean everything! It’s one of those timeless products. 

Mix a little bit with water and dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn), and then rub the mixture into the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before washing. 

Lemon Juice

Lemons are incredible cleansers. Paired with sunlight, they can be one of the best stain removers as well. 

To use lemon juice as a stain remover, run the stained garment under warm water to saturate it, and then treat it with regular lemon juice. No scrubbing is necessary.

Then, place it in direct sunlight with the stained area facing the sun. After a few hours, the stain should be gone.

Wash as normal to fully clean and soften the garment. 

Baking Soda

Oh, baking soda, how I love you! It is so multifunctional! This is definitely one of my go-to products that I ALWAYS have on hand for cleaning purposes.

To treat stains, mix a little bit of soda with water and dish liquid to make a paste. Then, rub it on the stain gently. Wash as usual to fully remove the stain. 

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Stain Remover

This stain remover is free of dyes and synthetic perfumes/fragrances. Composed of enzymes and cleaning agents derived from plants, it is a biodegradable formula that is 100% cruelty free.

Based on the reviews, it does just as well as other stain removers that contain chemicals. 

Dapple Baby Stain Remover

Many mamas love this product as well. It’s another option for a natural stain remover with an A EWG rating.

This remover has plenty of positive reviews, although many have reported having to use it a few times to completely remove a stain. 

Puracy Baby Stain Remover

This is another natural, chemical-free stain remover. Many mamas love it because it is just as effective without harsh chemicals. 

Homemade Recipes

As I dove into the world of endless baby laundry and endless stains, I gained an appreciation for using products that I already have on hand.

I have found great success using different homemade recipes to remove stains, and it makes me feel better knowing that I am using products that are multipurpose and all natural. 

Baking Soda, Dish Soap, and Hydrogen Peroxide

This is a good one. It will get rid of just about any stain! Combine one part Dawn dish soap, one part baking soda, and two parts hydrogen peroxide.

Rub/scrub/brush it onto the stains, and let it sit for at least an hour before washing. You might see some stains disappear before you even wash the garment!

Meat Tenderizer and Water

For a fresh stain, sprinkle enough tenderizer on the stain to cover it. Let it sit for about an hour, then brush off the tenderizer, and wash as normal.

For a set-in stain, make a paste by combining 1 teaspoon of tenderizer with 2 or 3 drops of water. Rub in the paste, let it sit, and then wash as usual. 

Borax and Detergent

Borax is a natural mineral that boosts the performance of laundry detergents and helps to remove stains. Mixing borax with your laundry detergent can help to remove tough stains. 

Dawn and White Vinegar

Combine one part blue Dawn dish liquid and four parts white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it directly on the stains. This solution works best when clothing is damp or wet. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is absorbent, which is why it can remove stains. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to lift stains. Mix baking soda and vinegar to create a paste that you can use to treat stubborn stains. 

Closing Thoughts 

There ya have it! There are plenty of things you can try to remove even the most stubborn formula stains.

All it takes is a little extra TLC for your baby’s clothes to be good as new!