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Options for recycling stained baby/toddler clothing - Page 2

post #21 of 38
With a package of a medium or dark colored RIT fabric dye, you can make stained, light colored clothing into unstained clothing ... especially if you do tie-dye.
post #22 of 38
Ack!! Sorry, completely forgot I posted that until someone PMed me! It's really not NFL at, but I use it maybe 3-4 times a year, when I've gathered up enough clothes to fill a bucket. (Or, like today, when I've gotten raspberry sauce on my very favorite, brand new shirt ) It's actually from the Tightwad Gazette, so it's not quite a secret, but most people haven't heard it It works on most "natural" stains--mud, food, poop, spit up, body oil (my DH is one greasy guy) etc. It has NOT worked, for me at least, on mildew, rust, or set-in coffee. And it doesn't work for every single stain, of course, but I've saved many kids' items this way.

1 C of Cascade powder dishwasher detergent (the plain, regular kind)
1 C of Clorox 2 liquid color-safe bleach
5 gallons of the hottest possible water you can get from your water heater--when I posted this on the F&F forum, someone once said she used this treatment, and to boost it she'd add a portion of boiling water from the stove.

Mix this all together, then mix in the clothes and let them soak overnight, or longer. I stir them periodically too, because they tend to float up to the top, and I push them back down and in so no stains get stuck up top. I also make sure I use a container I can close--I tried this once in a open container and the heat dissipated too quickly.

You can also do half batches, or quarter batches, or whatever, as long as you can keep it hot enough. I've done half batches, but I imagine anything smaller might cool pretty quickly, and the heat is what does part of the work.

You must use the actual brand-name products--off brands don't work, I've tried. I've soaked cranberry and bright pink items together with white stuff many times and never had a transfer problem (I think the color-safe bleach helps prevent it), but I did soak some place mats that had black in them, the whole batch went gray. I wasn't able to re-whiten a few of the items either, so use caution when you're mixing colors. It's only been a problem once for me, but still, you never know just when it WILL turn out to be a problem!

You can also do the same process with a few scoops of oxygen bleach (I used 4 scoops to 5 gallons of hot water), and it does pretty well, but doesn't eliminate as many stains, and it fades colors terribly--it actually lightened my DD's pink ballet tights up several color degrees! Oxygen bleach is definitely more environmentally friendly though.
post #23 of 38
A less intensive version of the above is to wash the stained items in the machine, adding a scoop of Cascade with the detergent. I've used this tip to get formula stains out of thrift store baby clothes. Apparently, the reason it works is that dishwasher detergent contains phosphates, which were removed from US laundry detergents in the 70's due to environmental concerns. There's currently a strong push to ban phosphates in dishwasher detergents, too, so this method's days might be numbered.

One further note: If you haven't used Oxi-Clean Spray (in the blue plastic bottle), it might be worth a try. In my experience, it often does the trick for stubborn stains on light-colored clothing. However, DO NOT spray an item of clothing and leave it in the sun to "bleach." I tried that, and it left nasty yellow patches. Now we have a few pairs of training pants with large "faux pee-stains" in the crotch.
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryCeleste View Post
A less intensive version of the above is to wash the stained items in the machine, adding a scoop of Cascade with the detergent. I've used this tip to get formula stains out of thrift store baby clothes. Apparently, the reason it works is that dishwasher detergent contains phosphates, which were removed from US laundry detergents in the 70's due to environmental concerns. There's currently a strong push to ban phosphates in dishwasher detergents, too, so this method's days might be numbered.

One further note: If you haven't used Oxi-Clean Spray (in the blue plastic bottle), it might be worth a try. In my experience, it often does the trick for stubborn stains on light-colored clothing. However, DO NOT spray an item of clothing and leave it in the sun to "bleach." I tried that, and it left nasty yellow patches. Now we have a few pairs of training pants with large "faux pee-stains" in the crotch.
I don't know if the OC spray is EF, but it does work.

I thought their were plenty of detergents that have phospates in them? Why would they allow it in dishwashing detergent, but not in your clothing detergent?
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by hubris View Post
Places like the Salvation Army and Goodwill don't usually sell the stained items in their US thrift shops, BUT they do send them to other countries and/or recycle them as rags. I'd go ahead and donate.

I've also heard of people shredding them up to use to stuff homemade stuffed animals.
There's a momma here who shreds everything to use for box fillers for her ebay shipments.
post #26 of 38

Will this work on stiffened armpit stains?

DH stopped using solid deodorants and now uses spray on but he is still getting these stiff white arm pit stains. He has been successful in laundering the white color out but the stiffness remains.

He has tried using vinegar as suggested elsewhere on one of these boards but that doesn't work.

BTW, does anyone know what to call this? Whenever we talk about it I refer to it as a "stain" and for some strange reason, unknown to me, DH becomes snippy and reminds me that once the white is gone it isn't a stain any longer. I'm at a complete loss as to what to call it.

Thanks,
~Cath
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CathMac View Post
DH stopped using solid deodorants and now uses spray on but he is still getting these stiff white arm pit stains. He has been successful in laundering the white color out but the stiffness remains.

He has tried using vinegar as suggested elsewhere on one of these boards but that doesn't work.

BTW, does anyone know what to call this? Whenever we talk about it I refer to it as a "stain" and for some strange reason, unknown to me, DH becomes snippy and reminds me that once the white is gone it isn't a stain any longer. I'm at a complete loss as to what to call it.

Thanks,
~Cath
Maybe you are using too much soap? Too much soap makes clothes stiff. To test for this, wash some washcloths, and then dry them. Put a washcloth in a small basin of water, and check for soap.
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CathMac View Post
DH stopped using solid deodorants and now uses spray on but he is still getting these stiff white arm pit stains. He has been successful in laundering the white color out but the stiffness remains.

He has tried using vinegar as suggested elsewhere on one of these boards but that doesn't work.

BTW, does anyone know what to call this? Whenever we talk about it I refer to it as a "stain" and for some strange reason, unknown to me, DH becomes snippy and reminds me that once the white is gone it isn't a stain any longer. I'm at a complete loss as to what to call it.

Thanks,
~Cath
I know exactly what you're talking about. My dh has it too. I don't know if it will work. It might, I should try. The stuff is great. I wrote those off a long time ago. He still wears them, but I stopped trying. I might try one more time. Oh and is armpit crust the word?......maybe he will like the word stain better now. lol
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryCeleste View Post
A less intensive version of the above is to wash the stained items in the machine, adding a scoop of Cascade with the detergent. I've used this tip to get formula stains out of thrift store baby clothes. Apparently, the reason it works is that dishwasher detergent contains phosphates, which were removed from US laundry detergents in the 70's due to environmental concerns. There's currently a strong push to ban phosphates in dishwasher detergents, too, so this method's days might be numbered.

One further note: If you haven't used Oxi-Clean Spray (in the blue plastic bottle), it might be worth a try. In my experience, it often does the trick for stubborn stains on light-colored clothing. However, DO NOT spray an item of clothing and leave it in the sun to "bleach." I tried that, and it left nasty yellow patches. Now we have a few pairs of training pants with large "faux pee-stains" in the crotch.
Oh crud, you're right : I had no idea that was the key. That totally stinks. OK, I guess I'm going to have to get better at pretreating then, or I wonder if the same solution in a tiny amount as a pretreat would work as well? Maybe I'll test that out with a rag shirt. I'm so bummed about this! Seriously, last night I did a batch because every single one of my summer shirts had stains. I had to wear a long-sleeved shirt to a graduation ceremony in 80-degree weather

Thanks for the heads up--I'll work at finding something more EF for sure...
post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by tessamami View Post
Maybe you are using too much soap? Too much soap makes clothes stiff.
Tessamami,
I don't think the amount of soap is the issue since the problem is concentrated in one area and since my clothes aren't affected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellid View Post
Oh and is armpit crust the word?......maybe he will like the word stain better now. lol
Kellid,
Actually, I think "armpit crust" or "crust" will do fine. I'm guessing he's a little self-conscious and/or just plain aggravated about this so the inaccurate term is a distraction or deflection of some sort. He finally threw a bunch of shirts away expecting me to be happy since he has a humongous T-shirt collection that was a source of friction for awhile. I now think he was hanging onto some of his favorites in the hopes that he could salvage them. I feel badly that he couldn't but maybe this treatment will help down the road.

I'm not the most Eco-Friendly person in the world but knowing why it works I would only use the treatment when absolutely necessary. I like the OPs suggestion of accumulating a bunch of items and doing them together.

~Cath
post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by CathMac View Post
I'm not the most Eco-Friendly person in the world but knowing why it works I would only use the treatment when absolutely necessary. I like the OPs suggestion of accumulating a bunch of items and doing them together.
I agree -- when I posted about how the method worked, I didn't mean to suggest that it should never be used. It also makes sense from an environmental perspective, IMO, if it makes the difference between wearable and unwearable clothes. Even the most die-hard Goodwill bargain hunters don't want crusty-armpit shirts. Although fabric can be recycled, "reusing" is generally a far more effective method of waste reduction, especially when you figure in the resources that are used in the recycling process.

BTW, for those who are unfamiliar with the phosphate issue, these substances aren't a direct health hazard -- in fact, phosphate is an essential nutrient. The trouble is that excessive amounts (from agricultural runoff and human waste, as well as detergents) over-nourish plant life in ponds and lakes, causing algae overgrowth which chokes out other life forms. So the bad effects are very much dependent on the dose.
post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryCeleste View Post
I agree -- when I posted about how the method worked, I didn't mean to suggest that it should never be used. It also makes sense from an environmental perspective, IMO, if it makes the difference between wearable and unwearable clothes. Even the most die-hard Goodwill bargain hunters don't want crusty-armpit shirts. Although fabric can be recycled, "reusing" is generally a far more effective method of waste reduction, especially when you figure in the resources that are used in the recycling process.

BTW, for those who are unfamiliar with the phosphate issue, these substances aren't a direct health hazard -- in fact, phosphate is an essential nutrient. The trouble is that excessive amounts (from agricultural runoff and human waste, as well as detergents) over-nourish plant life in ponds and lakes, causing algae overgrowth which chokes out other life forms. So the bad effects are very much dependent on the dose.
Thanks for that I knew you weren't being harsh! I was just bummed to find out that phosphates were the key. I mean, I knew I wasn't using EOs or anything But I've been trying to eliminate the last few non-EF holdouts in my routine--I guess now I'll just have to try a little harder! Maybe if I can cut it back to once a year... I do agree though, that I saved a lot of clothing I would otherwise have tossed in a donation bin, and that I've been able to give a lot of clothing to others via Freecycle and as hand-me-downs that I might not have had they been as stained as my kids can seem to get them!

Ah well, it's always a journey, right?
post #33 of 38
I know this is an old thread, but I have a couple of questions.

With the hot water + color-safe bleach + dishwasher detergent method, how do you keep the water hot? Isn't it going to cool off within a matter of minutes? Is this mixture safe for printed fabric?
I learned the hard way never to use OxyClean on printed fabric when I soaked a mostly-white flannel blanket and many of the pink polka dots faded off. Is Shaklee Nature Bright safe for printed fabric?

I'm asking because I have some baby clothes with (breast milk) spit-up stains that I'm trying to salvage. Most of them have sentimental value.

On another note, I'm glad I read this thread and learned that I can donate old blue jeans. I have thrown away so many pairs of old, holey jeans when I should have been putting them in a clothing bin.
post #34 of 38
Regarding Oxy Clean and fading, I have had a few things fade but most do not. Mostly the things I soak are Hanna or Gymboree - more expensive stuff that I want to keep looking nice - and they have not faded at all. Sometimes I leave them there overnight. I use one scoop per bucket of water, add hot water first and stir it around just to dissolve the Oxy Clean, then fill the bucket the rest of the way with cold water. I think the bucket is 16 quart - the size I use for mopping floors. This is less concentrated than if you follow the instructions on the Oxy Clean box. Maybe try some clothes are the same brand as what you are trying to rescue to see how they hold up. Also, if your stained stuff has been in the dryer after it's stained, all bets are off for getting the stain out. That makes it nearly impossible most of the time.

If your BM stains are on white fabric, you could try a bleach pen and dab around the stain the launder it. I fold the bleached parts in on each other so they don't affect the clothes that are around them in the washer.
post #35 of 38
100% cotton clothes can be quickly cut ripped into smaller sections (you don't have to shred or cut into strips) and COMPOSTED

i'm doing this on a bare packed section of our front yard -- it's covered with the cut up cotton, then it's covered with some wood boards. In a year's time it should be completely composted! (I'm trying to make a layer of dirt on the bare hard part so i can grow something there)
post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmansions View Post
Also, if your stained stuff has been in the dryer after it's stained, all bets are off for getting the stain out. That makes it nearly impossible most of the time.
Ah, well, I guess I'm out of luck. Everything has been through the dryer.

With the items that have no sentimental value, I'll probably trying soaking in OxyClean just to see what happens.
post #37 of 38
Have you tried the Biz boil? I've heard it will even get Sharpie marker stains out.
post #38 of 38
YOu can make family cloth out of old cotton tshirts... just an idea.
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