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How To Clean Baby and Infant Poop Stains Off Clothes and Furniture

A pragmatic, if cringeworthy, guide to cleaning up the worst kind of kid-conceived mess.

Everybody poops. But when you’re not yet potty trained, the act is in the spotlight, there for everyone to see, during and after, especially when a bowel movement turns to a blowout. At that point, parents have a challenging and gross cleanup on their hands.  The trick is cleaning up baby poop as soon as it is discovered. A poop stain sets quickly and, the longer you wait to remove that poop stain, the less likely you are to recover the original color of your carpet, clothing, or bedsheets.

How to Remove Poop Stains from Floors

Hard floors, like tile or linoleum, don’t need quite as much prep work but have the added complication of foot traffic. When cleaning hard flooring, Lily Cameron, the resident cleaning expert at London’s Fantastic Services, recommends bringing everything needed to the turd, including a plastic bag, instead of carrying it through the house to the garbage. Some disposable latex or nitrile gloves should be part of any stool scenario.

“First, put gloves on, then use dry paper towels to wipe as much feces from the floor as possible,” says Cameron. “Carefully fold the towels and throw them into a plastic bag. If you need a scraping tool, use a paper plate — it is strong enough to remove harder particles, yet won’t scratch the surface.”

After the first round, damp paper towels or wipes can clean up the remainder. Then, “generously apply a disinfectant over the affected zone,” recommends Cameron. “Let it sit for at least five minutes. I suggest following manufacturer’s advice, sometimes five minutes may not suffice. Then wipe again with clean water and leave it to air dry.”

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How to Remove Poop Stains from Carpet

Carpets are perhaps the worst place for unexpected blowouts since carpets, like other textiles, can have feces ground into the fibers if the cleaner isn’t careful. In this case, the fibers are essentially glued to the floor and can’t be easily cleaned. And any stools on the floor are susceptible to being smeared by foot traffic.

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First, parents should use a paper towel to gently pick up the poop and throw it away. After they’ve gotten as much as they can, they should blot the area to remove any lingering traces.

“Using a bowl, mix a quarter cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of laundry detergent which contains enzymes,” suggests Cameron. Enzymatic cleaners such as those used for animal scents or stains are pretty effective. Before using any cleaner on a carpet, read the instructions and test on an inconspicuous patch to see if there is any discoloration.  “Dampen a cloth into the solution and dab the stain. Twist and wash the cloth, then dab again, until the affected area is clean. Let it air dry.”

Isopropyl alcohol can be blotted over the area to disinfect. Sometimes the nap – the raised or “fuzzy” part of the carpet – may look matted or flat. “Return carpet’s nap into its original shape by vacuuming thoroughly after the carpet is dry,” says Cameron. “This will be enough to restore the carpet’s nap.”

Of course, messes that include severe diarrhea may be beyond these solutions. They may require hiring a professional, renting a carpet steam cleaner, or burning down the entire house, salting the ashes, and starting over in a faraway land.

How to Get Get Poop Stains Out of Clothes

Clothes and sheets need a rinse and a pre-wash before they go into the washing machine. They should be kept separate from other laundry items and rinsed in a sink – a work sink or slop sink is ideal. Cold water from the faucet can be used to rinse away feces. The best way to know of solids is to flow water through the fabric from the side opposite the stuck excrement. The water pressure itself can work solids loose.

“Soak laundry in hot water for a few hours with two scoops of Oxiclean or similar laundry detergent with enzymes,” recommends Jennifer Collado, a veteran cleaning expert from Pro Housekeepers. “Drain and squeeze any excess water from the clothing, and transfer them to the washer. Use the HOT/HOT setting with two cups of white vinegar or three-quarters of a cup chlorine. Alternatively, you can continue washing in the sink with one gallon of HOT water.”

Poop Stains Cheat Sheet: How to Clean It Up

  • Get rid of the solids – no matter, the first thing is using a paper towel to toss out the solid stool.
  • Prewash – clothes and sheets are going to need to be rinsed and soaked for a few hours in detergent or OxyClean. If there’s no stain, they can be washed as normal.
  • Lysol – after wiping away any trace, hard flooring will need to be disinfected. Lysol and other disinfectants are perfect – if the directions are properly followed.
  • Blotting – blotting with a rag dampened with a diluted vinegar or laundry detergent solution can help remove stains. Disinfect with isopropyl alcohol.