When my daughter was one month old, I discovered a large yellowish-brown stain on the back of my favorite newborn sleeper suit while folding laundry. Not only was this a gift from a loved one, but it was also one of the first outfits she ever wore once we got home from the hospital. I tried everything after discovering the damage, but the stain was there to stay.
Ruining cherished outfits is one reason baby blowouts can be so devastating. Not only is it nasty to clean up, diaper contents can destroy the resale value of an item and/or the ability to use it as a hand-me-down later on.
Don’t be like first-time-mom me. There are tricks to cleaning up after a baby blowout that will effectively preserve clothing, memories and your sanity. Over the past year, the following steps have worked well for me.
Remove as much of the offending material as possible.
Diaper changes are never glamorous, but blowouts are downright disgusting. While it’s much easier to pick up the dirty onesie with two reluctant fingers and quickly toss it on top of the laundry pile, you’ll thank yourself later if you do some pre-treatment before you hit the laundry room. Liberally use wipes to scrape off as much of the poop as possible. I know some moms even keep a knife or other tool handy to be extra thorough during this step.
Begin lifting the stain.
As soon as you finish restoring your darling baby to a clean, sweet-smelling state (wipes work well in most cases, in others… the tub may be necessary), coat the visible stained areas with Dawn dish soap and run under cold water.
I have used OxiClean and other stain removing products, but I’ve found Dawn to be the most reliable. I pinch two areas of material surrounding the stain and scrub vigorously with my fingers. Since the items are covered in cold water and Dawn, I rationalize it’s not as horrifying as just scrubbing poop with my fingers.
Soak clothing and changing pad covers.
After lifting the stain, immediately place the soiled items in a bucket of cold water. From there, let everything sit for at least 15 minutes. While many suggest using hot or warm water, I’ve found that very cold water is more effective if you act right away.
Transfer to washer.
After soaking, stick everything in the washing machine with your baby-friendly detergent of choice (we like Dreft). Stick to the delicate, cold water settings and wash as you normally would. Usually, I add these items to a load of non-blowout clothes, but you can also wash separately if you wish.
Dry clothes and be amazed!
In my experience, when you pull the items out of the dryer after this process, it will be like the nightmare never even happened. Just sweet, baby-smelling clothes without a hint of blowout evidence.
It’s extra unfortunate when the blowout extends beyond the baby and what she’s wearing. Revisit the scene of the crime as soon as you can to spot treat. If the blowout happens in the car seat or another difficult-to-clean spot, follow these same steps.
Start by removing as much of the poop as possible, then saturate the corner of an old rag with cold water and Dawn and begin pressing it into the stained areas. After letting the material absorb the soap and water for a minute or two, scrub the area until you start to see the stain disappear. If your car seat has a removable cover, throw that bad boy in the wash too.
Take preventative measures.
If you want to avoid a massive laundry moment, take proactive steps to contain some of the mess. I personally get tired of taking the changing pad cover on and off, but I’m still determined to have my pretty, lily-white cover in the nursery (yes I’m that person).
So, I use an old towel underneath my little one whenever I know it’s going to be a particularly dramatic diaper change. Better to ruin the old towel than the cover I say.
Another tip is to remove clothing and change the baby ASAP. The longer she sits in the baby blowout, the more opportunities there are for the destruction to spread. If your child is old enough to stand on her own or with assistance, try undressing and wiping down any explosive poop before laying her down for the full change.
The next time you’re up to your elbows in #2, I hope these tips are helpful. And remember, I’m right there with you in solidarity.
Katie McCall is a lifestyle portrait photographer, content strategist, and producer based in San Antonio, Texas. When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, she's exploring the world with her husband, darling one-year-old daughter and tiny pup. If you’d like, please follow their adventures on Instagram (@hersideproject)!