How to Get Yellow Stains Out of Stored Baby Clothes

By Polly Conner

Looking for a way to get yellow stains out of baby clothes after storage? I’ve stumbled on the PERFECT solution! Read on to learn how to save those baby clothes! (Tip- be sure to read the comments too! People have offered some great tips there as well.)

How to remove the yellow staining that shows up in stored baby clothes.

A rumbling-tumbling-jumping belly, achy back, out of breath…all the time, decreased appetite, and hating 95% of my clothing can only mean one thing: the third trimester!

It’s game time baby.

Stack of baby clothes

The nursery is starting to take shape, I’ve got some fabulous freezer meals made, and I’m starting to knock off some to-do’s before baby #3 arrives. Since we aren’t finding out the gender of this one, one of my big tasks was to dig out infant clothes for both genders. I’ve stored and hauled around bins and bins of these pre-washed, organized baby clothes for years knowing that this day would come.

So, I’m sure you can imagine the shock and horror I experienced when I opened up the first container to find a mysterious yellow staining on almost all of my baby clothes! I washed these, I tell you! The yellow staining was particularly bad on the girl clothes that had been stored for 4 years now. The boy clothes did not escape the yellow-plague by any means either.

Onesie with yellow staining around the neck

Since hormones and emotions are a bit heightened presently, I came close to calling it all a loss and throwing away all of the totally ruined-hopeless-grossly yellowed clothes. Drama.

Well, luckily I still had a tad bit of sanity left that evening and decided to do a little research on the issue.

Turns out, I’m not alone.

Why do baby clothes get yellow stains?

It’s quite common for stored baby clothes to go into storage clean and come out a few years later with discoloration–even if you’ve washed them well. The culprit: the protein from milk.

This can come from breastmilk or even spit-up. Even if they’ve been washed, the residue can remain and bond to the clothing. Over time it takes on a yellowish color.

How to get yellow stains out of baby clothes

OxiClean

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After digging a bit more, I learned that many have had success in removing these stains using OxiClean. So, on my next store run, I snagged a tub of it and gave it a whirl. 

You guys.

IT WORKED!

Baby girl clothes

I feel like only fellow mothers can appreciate the triumph of the situation. (When I told my husband about it all he was happy but, I guarantee you, hasn’t given it a thought since.) It not only got stains OUT but I feel like it brightened up the clothes and made them look almost new. 

Step by Step Guide on How to Remove Yellow Stains from Baby Clothes

Here is exactly how I got those yucky yellow stained clothes looking good as new.

Oxiclean

I set my washer on a medium-load, hot water soak cycle. I then put 6, yes 6 scoops of OxiClean. The directions said to put a scoop for every gallon of water and my best guess what that my load would be about 6 gallons. It seemed like an insane amount of detergent to put in a load but I was trusting the directions. 

I let it soak about 10 hours (overnight) and then ran a wash cycle as normal.

Baby clothes Before & After washing with oxiclean

The clothes came out STAIN FREE. Stain free, I tell you! Here are a few before and afters of some of the boys clothes:

Baby clothes before and after washing with oxiclean
Baby clothes with yellow stains before and after washing
Baby clothes with yellow stains before and after washing with oxiclean

It even worked just as well on the four year old stains on the girl clothes.

So mama friends, learn from this gal. Don’t be shocked when your precious, cleanly stored baby clothes come out with the yellow plague. While no vaccine may be available, rest assured that there is an easy cure!

Since you have a tub of Oxiclean on hand now, here are a few more ways you can use it in your home!


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84 replies
  1. Clarice A. says:

    We adopted our daughter in 2001 when she was 14 years old and three month after we got her we baptized her at sunday mass.We did her in a white,short sleeve,poofy,top of the knees baptism dress with a matching bonnet,white tights and white mary jane shoes.We did a white tee shirt as her top under the dress with a cloth diaper and adult size rubberpants under the tights.We had the entire outfit cleaned and boxed.Back in march,some cousins adopted a 15 year old girl and are finially having her baptized on August 30th.We are loaning them our daughters baptism outfit to wear and i opended up the box the other day and the dress and bonnet are still white,but the tights and the cloth diaper have yellowed a little,the rubberpants are still white.Would washing the diaper and tights in Oxyclean get the yellowing out?

  2. T says:

    Did this today with my twins’ clothes, which I had stain treated so carefully prior to putting them in storage. I was planning to give them to a friend who is getting ready to have a baby and due to a variety of circumstances, has very few options as far as baby clothes go. I followed the steps one by one and went to go check 3 hours later…the colors had bled EVERYWHERE. Black and red staining over $1000 worth of baby clothes, which also had incredible intrinsic value to me. I’ve been washing them like a maniac all night and the dyes are permanently staining them. Now I have nothing to give my friend, and everything is in such bad shape I can’t even donate it.

  3. Hannah says:

    I’m so glad I found this post and all the helpful comments. I’m expecting #2 and realized many of the clothes we had were stained. I’m hoping this works as well for us as it has for y’all. Our washing machine only soaks for a couple of hours before starting the wash cycle. I soaked my clothes in the bathtub and now my tub is yellow. Did anyone else have an issue with this? If so how did y’all clean it out? My husband scrubbed with our normal tub cleaner and now we are letting bleach soak for a bit. I’m hoping that helps, but wanted to check in case it doesn’t.

  4. Debbie McHenry says:

    I have baby cloths that have yellow stains after being stored. I picked up Oxi Clean white revive thinking I had the right thing. Will that be safe to use on colored baby clothes?

  5. Sophia Anglo says:

    For newborns, would you use a free and clear detergent after using the oxiclean on the clothes? Or is the oxiclean safe on newborn skin?

    • Polly Conner says:

      I don’t think I can speak to the safety of oxiclean. I’d say do a little research on their website to get that answer. I always used a fragrant free detergent with my baby clothes though.

  6. Ana says:

    Thank you for the recommendation I will be trying out this method today. But I ask that you please don’t alter or brighten the “after” photos as it can be misleading….

    • Sally says:

      Hi, I live in the UK.

      I have a similar problem.
      Can I use oxiclean on white pure wool first size clothes? (knitted for my children by my godmother 36 years ago).
      I’m guessing I can order oxiclean from amazon, not sure it is sold in the UK.

      • Colleen says:

        Hi, live in the USA.
        Wool can shrink when washed. For something that precious, I think I would take it to be dry cleaned

  7. Donna says:

    I’m expecting my first grandson and just used this method on some of my son’s baby things, which have been stored for about 30 years. Some items were very yellowed, and I am amazed that now they look like new! I put about 4 gallons of hot water in a plastic tub with 4 scoops of Oxiclean, stirred until it was all dissolved, and then stirred in the clothes. I washed them after 11-12 hrs of soaking, and they look great!!

  8. Hannah says:

    Can this Oxi-clean also get out stains more than six years old, stains like: oil stains, chocolate stains, car grease, stains from under arm and groin places, and is it a water softener, plus have the ability to brighten and whiten whites? Because I have clothing that are turning gray! They were brand new and white before I moved and now they are turning gray! I’ve tried lemon juice, vinegar, and bleach, etc., and it’s not going well.

  9. Shae says:

    Just wondering what the Oxiclean water ratio would be if soaking a lot of baby clothes in the bathtub first? I have probably a whole tubs worth of clothes that need to be soaked but would I need to add more than 6 scoops for soaking?

  10. Jill says:

    So glad to find this info this morning! I just took out my container of 25 year old white baby clothes that my mother in law (who passed away many years ago) made for my first born and I was shocked to see that they have lots of yellow/dingy stains on them. My first grand baby is due in July and I wanted to surprise my son with the items….sure hope this works!

  11. Monique says:

    I have a front loading washer, so I’m not sure if I should follow the same instructions- the clothes won’t necessarily all be soaking. Should I soak them in the tub first With oxiclean and then Repeat oxiclean process in the washer or is that overkill?

    • Tammy says:

      I have my oldest son’s baby blanket that was made for him after his birth, it’s been stored away for well over 20 years. It’s full of those yellow stain’s. if I soak it in the tub over night using the Oxi clean then wash it will that do the trick? Plus how many scoops should I use?

  12. Cristina says:

    I just did this trick with Set in, haven’t been washed in 3 years, stains. And I can’t believe my eyes to find they look brand new. Some of these were almost thrown in the garage because I thought there was no way these stains would come out! Thank you, thank you so much for sharing and saving my baby girls clothes!

  13. Laura says:

    I, too, share a similar story as many others. I thought I did everything right. (Us mothers, we do so try!) Twenty years ago, I stain treated, cleaned and appropriately stored for long-term storage my son’s baby clothes on the hopes that one day there might be a precious grandbaby to bestow these upon. In the process of moving to another home, I checked on the condition of the clothes only to discover the yellow plague! With over 100 articles of clothing, none was left unscathed. Thanks to the Internet and quick perusal of sites, I came across this wonderful blog and tutorial. I filled two large 10 gallon plastic tubs with warm water and six scoops of Oxiclean each. I stained treated each article of clothing with spray Shout and then placed in a tub. With the frenetic energy of a witch at her cauldron, I stirred my concoctions of clothing and water/Oxiclean/shout to ensure each piece of cloothing was well saturated and then I left it sit overnight (11 hours so far and counting). (Side note: I agree with the comment about wearing gloves if you love your manicure! I used a large metal stir stick to saturate the clothes but did manage to get quite a bit on my hands checking on the clothes prior to putting on the gloves. The Oxiclean instantly dried out my hands to the point of being quite painful!) But, back to the good news, by morning, the mixture and soaking had eradicated the yellow stains on nearly all the clothes. The only ones that appear to need a little more work are the ones made of heavy duty denim. I plan to leave everything soak another five hours (for 16 hours total, per one of the comments) and then will run through my high efficiency washer and dryer. Moms, please don’t despair! Try it! (And, yes, put ALL SIX SCOOPS in until your water when stirred is white and foamy!)

  14. Sarah says:

    I was so excited when my husband and I took our daughters clothes out of storage. We are expecting our second girl early September! I loved going through the clothes (although only 2 years old) I had forgotten all the cute outfits we had received. I thought I had been such a great ‘mother’ by washing our first daughters clothes as she grew out of them and putting them in vacuum sealed bags in a rubbermaid bin. Thankfully out of the two bags we took out of storage, maybe only 15-20 pieces were stained. But I was sad. I threw everything in the wash to freshen them up and the yellow stains remained. I immediately sat down and googled what to do and your blog was the first link to come up.
    I promptly ordered oxyclean from Amazon and it arrived 24 hours later. I had let the clothes soak in a pail with the oxyclean overnight. My washer will automatically drain if left untouched for more than 2 hours….
    All but 3 pieces came out clean! I put them through a hot wash cycle with more oxyclean and threw most of the pieces into the dryer. The three that are still stained are out sunning and I can already see the leftover stains fading!

    Thanks for the great suggestion/tutorial!

  15. Stephanie says:

    I got the stains somewhat out using Dreft stain spot treatment, but I found that leaving the clothes out in the sun has actually cleared the stains best!

  16. Lyndsey Howland says:

    Thank you so much for the tip! My sister has had clothes in her attic waiting for me to have a baby for YEARS and we finally pulled them down and almost all of them had these stains. I wanted to cry but probably not as much as she wanted to! I can’t wait to try this tonight 🙂

  17. Barbara says:

    Thanks so much for this information. My granddaughter is expecting boy #3 the first of July. Number one will be 8 in August, number two just turned 5 a week ago. These clothes have been stored for a long time. She was heartbroken when she got her newborn clothes out and they were all stained. I used the hottest water and the 6 cups of Oxi-Clean. After two hours when I checked them they looked like the stains were gone. I left them one more hour. Then I put them through three wash cycles to remove any Oxi residue. Then a final wash in Dreft and rinse in Downy. They are in the dryer now and it looks like they are stain free. I believe the colors are brighter also. To those who don’t want to do colors, Oxi-clean is not bleach, it’s completely safe for color fast clothing. Thanks for making Great-grams the hero one more time.

  18. Jackie says:

    Pregnant with baby #2 and clothes have been stored for 5 1/2 years. I was DEVASTATED to see those dreaded yellow stains but elated to find this blog. Clothes are currently soaking and I’m impatiently awaiting the (hopefully good) results.

  19. Julie Mora says:

    Darn phone printed some sentences twice! I was wondering if the Oxi clean would be OK to use on dark clothes as well. It seems that the colors may become bleached out .

  20. Julie Mora says:

    This is going to be a lifesaver for me! My daughter Found out that they were having another boy. We knew we had plenty of super cute clothes from my first grandson who is now 5 1/2. I know for a fact I would have never put those clothes away… Yet, we opened up th found out that they were having another boy. We knew we had plenty of super cute clothes from my first grandson who is now 5 1/2. I know for a fact I would have never put those clothes away… Yet, we opened up the containers of clothes and they all looked ruined! I am definitely trying this tonight! Is this only for the Onesies that are mostly white? Will it ruin the colored close? Say, dark blue?

    • Ann says:

      They also sell oxy for dark clothes! I’m going to try soaking them in oxy high def detergent over night since I have it on hand. If it doesn’t work I’ll definitely try the powder. A

  21. Wimberly says:

    IT WORKS!!!! I have to thank you, so very much, for this amazing remedy!!!! I saved my children’s nicest baby clothes in vacuumed sealed space bags. Though they have been protected, all these years, from moisture, dirt, moths, or whatever else attic storage could cause, many items still yellowed. Just like the clothing in your photos. After a google search, I decided to try your remedy. I followed your instructions to the letter! I now have beautiful, 29 year old, baby clothes to pass on to my 1 month old granddaughter! I’M THRILLED!! Thanks so much!

    • Polly says:

      Gosh, I don’t know!
      Maybe do a little online research. I bet you can find some more info.

    • Marie Scott says:

      It was a little more work but I soaked mine in a wash tub then squeezed out as much as I could, put them in the He3 front loader, with a Little bit of soap, then a normal wash, then an Express Wash. I did the extra wash to be sure all the soap was out. Then dried as usual. They came out great. Before I saw this post I had run some white Onesies with just soap and bleach, they did Not do well.

    • Aimee Warren says:

      You can soak in a big bowl or tub instead. The high efficiency washers don’t soak like the top loaders that fill up

    • Aimee Warren says:

      You are right! The wood tones are definitely different. I’ve done this before and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…..

  22. Diana Collins says:

    I tried this on my grandchild’s really nice stores baby clothes this weekend so we could use the clothes for her new baby sister. I soaked them in a bathroom sink which held about 2 gallons of water and put in 2.5 scoops of Oxyclean and dissolved it in the hot water before adding the clothes. They soaked for about 16 hours. They are perfect! No yellow stains at all and they look new!! It did dry my hands greatly. I rinsed my hands well after dissolving the powder but they are dried and chapped. I used a plastic spoon to keep the clothes submerged but stirred the solution with my hands trying to dissolve the powder.

  23. Christine Roderick says:

    Have to tell you this worked incredibly ????I soaked infant items from my two year old granddaughter as well as a sweater from my daughter ( which is 30+ years old and had several yellow stains) every item came out of the wash in pristine condition. Thanks a million ??????

  24. Sharolee says:

    This worked great on my kids clothes after being stored for 10 years. Some items took a couple times and it even helped to dry them on the clothes line in the sun.

  25. Kaity says:

    This technique has worked great for me over the years…it even worked on the old baby clothes my mom had stored for me. Just one tip…you do NOT need to use so much! Unless you have a full load for the washer, I always just use a little bin to soak the handful of stained ones in the tub overnight. That way I only use a half a scoop of oxi-clean. A little bit does go a long way with this stuff, and you can stretch the oxi-clean out a lot farther! The oxi-clean in a squirt bottle works well when the baby spits up. I just squirt a little on and throw it in the laundry to wash when I do a load. Good luck and congrats on the little ones!

  26. Alina says:

    Loved that I found you, but I need some help or advice from others…

    I had some baby clothes stored from my oldest for two years and just took them out for baby # 2 and sure enough there’s those yellow breast milk/spit up stains on white onesies. I soaked the clothes the first time for about 6 hours (following your directions bit maybe using more water so the solution was more diluted). And the clothes were better but still the stains were visible. So I decided to go for round two, this time soaking for 10 hours and using 6 scoops in a medium load and clothes came out A LOT better. But once I was folding them, I still noticed the yellow around the collar, mostly very faded yellow but I still would feel bad having to go out with baby wearing those onesies.

    Should I go for round three and just stop there or should I just turn them into “at home” onesies?

    Thank you,
    Alina

  27. Sharon S says:

    Worked unbelievable. 15 year old baptismal dress which had stains up at the front of the neck and down the front. Very yellow also. It came out right white and perfect. This saved the day. Thanks so much.

  28. Wendy Pekrul says:

    I recently had another niece added to our extended family. I had some banal clothes from my daughter in the attic for the last 15 years I guess. I was so upset by the yellow stains on the clothes I packed away after washing them.
    I found you blog through Google and tried you method. Thank you! It worked so well. I am happy now to pass the clothes along so they can be used again and my daigjter gets to see her cousin wearing the clothes she wore.

  29. Pamela Bowen says:

    I am a soon to be grandmother for the first time! I saved some of my daughter’s baby clothes ( over 30 yrs!) and would love to give her. Some are sweaters crocheted by her great grandmother. Think it would work?? Hot water ok you think? Thanks!

  30. Amanda says:

    Thank you SO much for this post!!! I too am expecting baby #3 We just found out it is a girl (I was out voted in finding out the gender so we ended up finding out). Anyways, I just pulled some boxes of baby girl clothes from my closet (upstairs, not even in the basement) And LOW and BEHOLD YELLOW STAINS! Thank Goodness I decided to do a google search and found this post!! The tears were seriously about to fall! So thank you for saving my baby clothes and my sanity -for today at least!

  31. Jennifer Sanders says:

    Just curious about when you ran a “normal wash cycle” – did you add an additional detergent at that point – oxyclean or otherwise? Thanks!

  32. Mariella says:

    I had several expensive baby clothes that I took out of storage after 12 years. There were yellow stains on them and I thought I would have to throw them out. This technique was a life and wallet saver. I filled the tub and put in about 8 scoops of oxyclean and soaked it overnight. The next morning the stains were all out. This saved me over $1000 in replacing the clothes!
    Thanks so much!!!

  33. Bonnie says:

    OxiClean stain remover in the spray bottle works like a charm.. no need for soaking and 6 scoops of soap. I always spray on all the necklines before washing baby’s clothes whether I can see yellow or not.. always come out sparkling clean!

  34. A says:

    Oooh I keep hearing great things about OxiClean and now I’m going to get my first tub this week! I just pulled out baby clothes, looking for gender neutral for our 3rd as well. I’m curious though, I’ve always been hesitant to use hot water on anything but pure white– do colored clothes, after many washes, not bleed? I’m mostly seeing the yellow staining on the whiter clothes, a few that have colored stripes or patterns too though…

  35. Stacy says:

    How do you use this for a front load washer? I love Oxi Clean but I have been unable to figure this part out. I am struggling with my 11 month old who takes his bibs off while eating and I am trying to save all of his blueberry stained clothes.

    • Polly says:

      To be honest, I’m really not sure. Maybe give the clothes a soak in a big container of some type and then run them through the cycle after that.

    • Lisa says:

      I have often used this method and done the soaking in cleaning buckets or small totes, with enough hot water (and oxyclean in a ratio similar to what is outlined above) to cover the clothes. After 12 to 24 hours I dump all into the washing machine and voilà-bright colors, and white whites.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! Just found your post as we have baby #3 due in July and our first two are 7 and 4–giving the oxyclean a try with all the clothes I just pulled out. Question–the gender of this baby is also a surprise and we have a boy and a girl–did you soak all the clothes together or do I need to the pink ones separately? Thanks!

  37. hickorynut says:

    Wow! This would have been great to know 2 years ago before I relocated a ton of onesies to the rag bag. Sadly my boys are all out of the itty-bitty phase. I can’t believe how well that worked!! Great information!!

      • Kim says:

        Is there any way of knowing whether they will re-appear AGAIN down the road? I’m considering washing some special baby clothes to keep down the road for my grandchildren…

        • Polly says:

          I haven’t had the chance to test it out over the long haul yet so I can’t tell you anything for sure!