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Getting Rid of Yellow Oxidation Stains

Seeing yellow or brown stains on your stored clothing? They could be oxidation stains. Learn how to remove yellow oxidation stains from clothes and fabric.

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I have some used baby clothes that looked clean when I packed them away, but when I got them out to prepare them for the birth of my second child, they had yellow stains around the neck from spit-up and/or formula. Can anything get these stains out?


This happens a lot as we think things are clean but storage seems to find those not so clean areas. It’s not uncommon to see this in stored underwear, sheets, and towels. The yellowing results from oxidation, the slow reaction of oxygen in the air with residual stains left behind on clothing that isn’t obvious when you put them away. Over time, the stains yellow and become visible months or years later. These unremoved stains often have a protein component that needs to be removed. These are big, complex structures that are best broken down using enzymes.

What I would suggest is try a presoak with Clorox 2® For Colors Powder. Add a scoop of Clorox 2® powder to 2 gallons hot water and stir to dissolve completely, then add the baby clothes. If you have different colors, sort them into the appropriate color groups before soaking to avoid dye transfer. The longer they can soak the better: white items can soak for up to 8 hours; darker items should soak for an hour. If you have a lot of different items, you’ll probably need to mix up additional solution, too.

When the soak time is complete, machine wash the items in the hottest water recommended on the care labels using detergent and more Clorox 2®. The warmer the water, the better the cleaning and stain removal.

Let the clothes air dry and then check for success–since these are years-old stains, you may need to repeat the treatment to get the stains all the way out.