How to Get Old Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes

As a mom, especially a new one, your work never gets done. Soon after feeding, your baby has been spitting up formula all over their clothes. You’ve tried everything but are yet to find out how to get old formula stains out of baby clothes.

Due to the chemical make-up of formula, it can be tricky to get rid of when it has set in. A perfect solution for old stains on baby clothes lies in baking soda and some sparkling water or club soda. Do so after scuffing off as much of the caked particles with a stiff brush, soaking the garment, and then later wash normally with a newborn detergent and cold water.

Old formula stains on baby clothes need a pre-treat and longer soaking time to remove. A couple of essential rules are worth noting to follow, as well as how you can neutralize a formula stain before it sets in.

What to Keep in Mind before Attempting to Remove Old Formula Stains from Baby Clothes

Baby formula contains mostly milk, and as such, the stain on the baby’s clothes is protein or animal-based. When fresh, staining removes easily with cold water, laundry, or dishwashing detergent. But it’s when the spill has set in and turned an unsightly yellowish color that you’ve got your work cut out.

The more a formula stain has aged, the longer you’ll need to soak baby clothes. Some stains can also prove stubborn depending on the spill amount, type of fabric, and formula. For delicate materials or treasured garments, I advise you to test your preferred stain removal solution on an inconspicuous area that won’t show discoloration. For best results, always read the detergents, stain remover, and the clothes manufacturer’s instructions.

When dealing with set-in, old formula stains; think in terms of cloth fiber penetration.  The three methods I will talk about below involve how far the stain has penetrated and allowing a suitable remover to access discoloration in the deepest recesses of your baby’s garment.  Lastly, avoid heat at all costs, as dried-up staining will become stickier when exposed to hot water or washer dryers.

How Do You Get Old Formula Stains Out of Baby Clothes?

Essential to remove any old stains are cold water and a stain-removing cleaner will break down the coagulated protein and fat of baby formula. After a long soaking period, set-in stains will require a heavy-duty lipase and protease enzyme-containing detergent. You can also use a mixture of baking powder and lemon juice, especially for delicate and white baby clothes or fabrics that recommend against biological powders.

Getting Old Formula Stains Out with Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is a ready-made solution of washing soda, and sodium per-carbonate or baking soda. Suitable for all types of baby clothes materials; this product doesn’t contain chlorine and is color-safe. Protein stains, for which old formula spots represent, are broken down while the bicarbonate of soda helps discoloration to vanish.

A popular example of oxygen bleach is OxiClean. To use the powdered stain remover;

  • Make a paste that includes oxygen bleach, and water
  • Rinse the stained baby garment in cold water
  • Apply the paste by rubbing it in and then let it sit for ten minutes
  • Wash the cloth normally with baby-safe detergent and cold water
  • Air dry to bleach with sunlight and to avoid very high dryer temperatures

If the formula stain remains on the baby’s garment, repeat the process by applying the paste and letting it sit. You can also add a scoop of the oxygen bleach powder to a bucket of cold water and soak the item overnight.

Get Old Formula Stains Out with Enzyme Cleaners

Biological detergents contain enzymes that work well to get animal-based stains out. They can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin, so extra care such as two more rinses after washing is required. These cleaners contain protease and amylase proteins that digest stains, while lipase works on the fatty grease of milk like old formula spills.

Enzyme cleaners also contain a substance called cellulose which bleaches stained cotton from becoming gray. To get old formula stains out of baby clothes with biological detergents;

  • Rinse the garment in cold water and apply the enzyme stain remover to the stain.
  • Let the garment sit for ten minutes before washing with oxygen bleach plus the biological detergent.
  • If the staining remains add spots of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with water, which isn’t harsh and is baby-safe.
  • Wash with enzyme detergent and rinse twice more before air drying to bleach in the sun.

Rubbing Old Formula Stains Out with Alcohol, Vinegar, and Borax

Diluted rubbing alcohol is safe for fabrics, and you can treat stubborn old formula stains on baby clothes effectively with added white vinegar. Yellowed, stained fabrics that have seen better feeding sessions can disappear to make the garment look new. If the stain still shows, add some oxygen bleach to the mix and soak overnight

Another powerful stain remover that’s effective on old formula stains is borax, comprising of boron, sodium, water, and oxygen. Make sure, however, that you get rid of all the chemicals after a stain removal by doing extra rinses with baby-safe detergent as residues can irritate sensitive skin. Use this heavy-duty powder as your last resort for getting out stubborn staining on baby clothes.


While your baby can be messy, especially at feeding time, you may have your hands full to deal with formula stains immediately. Once it’s time to act, however, the tips I’ve mentioned will help to get set-in staining out of your baby’s clothes. A pre-treatment of the stain is essential, with a soak overnight in your preferred remover solution.

Burps from your baby that spew forth formula or spills from the bottle can’t be avoided. It’s all part of your child’s healthy and happy beginnings. Oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, sodium bicarbonate, and white vinegar are all readily available and safe materials. With extra care; you can tackle stains with enzyme cleaners or borax powder.