How to remove milk stains?

Got milk? Then you’ve probably got milk stains, too. But don’t have cow! These stains are easy to remove if you know what to do. Here’s what cleaning pros suggest.

How to remove milk stains from clothing

Note: This is not recommended for silk, wool, cashmere or any dry-clean-only article.

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Robert Bell, owner of Threads cleaners, suggests removing milk as follows:

  • Blot up the excess milk with a white cotton towel.
  • Using your fingers or a soft-scrub brush, rub the stain with a mixture of 2 cups of cold water, 1 tablespoon of dish-washing liquid and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
  • Rinse with cold water.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • If the stain persists, take the garment to a dry cleaner.

Surprising uses for cream of tartar

Oct. 21, 201601:04

How to remove milk stains from upholstery and carpet

Note: This is not recommended for silk, antique or vintage upholstery or silk or wool carpet.

Michael Jacobs, a cleaning professional with Service Pros Local, keeps it simple when removing milk stains from furniture fabric.

  • Be sure to follow the instructions on the care label. If it’s safe to use detergent and water, proceed to the next step.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon liquid dish-washing detergent with 1 cup of water.
  • Starting at the outside of the stain and working toward the center, lightly blot with a cloth moistened with the solution.
  • Rinse detergent solution from area by blotting with a dampened white cloth. (If you have a wet/dry vac, that will do a great job removing liquids.)
  • Blot with a towel to dry.

How To Remove Milk Stains

Milk stains are inevitable if you have kids, or perhaps even if you don’t.

And it seems like kids always get this drink into the most unlikely places, especially when they carry their sippy cups all over the house.

Below are instructions for how to remove these spots and spills from fabric, upholstery and carpet, so you don’t have to cry over spilled milk.

Remember, the quicker you treat the spot the better.

In addition, do not use warm or hot water in the process, but only cold, so you don’t basically cook the proteins in the milk, which will set it.

Also, these instructions below are for white milk. If you’ve spilled chocolate milk check out the chocolate guide. Further, I’ve shared some instructions for how I removed strawberry syrup stains from a tablecloth here (which were in strawberry milk).

Removing Milk Stains From Fabric And Clothing

Step 1: Run the fabric, inside out, under the cold (not warm or hot) water to flush out as much of the milk as possible.

Step 2: Pretreat the stain with liquid laundry detergent containing enzymes, soaking for 30 minutes in cold water, or in the alternative pretreat with an enzyme pretreater. Do not use hot water.

Hint: If the stain is older, you may need to soak even longer, perhaps even overnight.

Step 3: Launder the item.

Hint: Make sure the stain is gone after washing, but before you place in the dryer or you may set it.

If it is not gone let the item air dry and pretreat again with a prewash stain remover. Repeat laundering if necessary.

Oxidized And Yellow Stains Caused By Milk

Over time clothing that looks clean when it comes out of the washer and dryer can get yellow stains on it. This is especially likely to occur with old baby clothes that are put up, generally in a hot garage or attic, waiting for the next baby to wear them.

What happens, over time, is that these almost invisible stains caused by milk, breast milk or formula, begin to oxidize as they break down and make yellow stains.

Here is an article written by a reader giving her secret for yellow stain removal from old baby clothes. This may help you too, if you are experiencing this issue with your milk stains.

Stain Removal For Milk From Upholstery

Step 1: Blot any excess milk from the upholstery, being careful not to spread the spot or grind it into the upholstery.

Step 2: Mix a solution of two cups cool water and one tablespoon dishwashing liquid.

Step 3: Using this solution, sponge the stain with a clean white cloth.

Step 4: Next, blot at the spot until the liquid is absorbed.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 until the stain is removed from the upholstery.

Step 6: Now that the spot is removed you should get plain cold water and a new white cloth and sponge the area to remove the cleaning solution, and then blot dry.

Hint: Be sure to get the upholstery only as wet as necessary to remove the stain from the milk.

In the alternative you may try to remove the stain with a dry cleaning solvent.

You can get more information on how to clean upholstery here.

How To Remove Stains Caused By Milk From Carpet

The instructions for removing stains caused by milk from carpet is the same as for the dishwashing solution instructions above for upholstery.

However, if you don’t have luck with this method you can also do something additional with the carpet stain, which is to mix a solution of one tablespoon of ammonia with two cups warm water, and use this as a cleaning solution.

Recommended Milk Stain Removers

Perhaps you don’t want to make your own stain remover, but instead want to use something designed to remove milk stains. The key is to find products which contain enzymes, since this is one of the best ways to remove these stains.

Here are some articles and reviews on this site which discuss various products that are designed to remove these stains:

Totally Toddler Stain Remover Carbona Stain Devil #4
Madame Paulette Kit For Delicate Fabrics
Blue Magic Upholstery Cleaner

Biz Stain Fighter Liquid Shout Advanced Ultra Gel With Scrubber Head Shout Free Pretreater

You can also share your own stain remover reviews here for other removers that work on milk, or any other spot or spill.

Do You Have Any Tips To Share For Removing These Stains?

I’m always looking for more tips and ideas for how to remove stains. You can share your stain removal tip here, for removing spots caused by milk or anything else.

Unusual Uses For Milk

This page is devoted to helping you figure out how to remove milk stains from surfaces throughout your house, so you may be surprised to find out that this drink is sometimes suggested as a home remedy for removing other stains.

I’ve actually created a whole page about this topic, and the unusual uses of milk since I’ve gotten so many home remedies which use it. Come check it out, and be surprised like I was!

Get Even More Stain And Spot Removal Help Here

Are you a stain magnet like me? If so, check out the A to Z Stain Removal Guide which gives directions for how to remove over 100 types of stains from all kinds of surfaces.

Third photo by Nick Piggott and fourth photo by gromgull

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Hi, I’m Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.

I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I’ve done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.

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Related Pages You May Enjoy

A-Z Guide: Instructions For Removing Over 100 Types Of Stains

Go From Removing Milk Stains To Home Page

CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won’t come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.

“Did the dog pee on the laundry?!” I nearly shrieked, rifling through the pile of clothing that I had just washed. She must have; why else would there be yellow stains on my baby’s bibs, onesies, and…everything else? I knew I shouldn’t have left the clothes sitting on the couch…

Well, as it were, the dog was innocent. The cause of the stains? Me, myself, and baby; it turns out that breast milk can turn any fabric a “lovely” shade of yellow, even after it’s been put through the wash.

So, does this mean that all babies destined to wear splotchy, stained clothing for their entire nursing life? Not at all. With the proper method, you can get those stains out of fabric, and keep them out.

Let’s talk about breast milk stains.

Why Does Breast Milk Stain

You would be hardpressed to find a mother who doesn’t know that breastfeeding is healthy, but do you know exactly why?

Nature has made our bodies capable of producing breast milk that is not only rich in vitamins, but that also contains the much-needed fat and protein your baby needs. It’s the ideal concoction for your child’s early meals, and you don’t even have to wait in a checkout line to buy it.

Funny story, though; those proteins are responsible for the icky yellow tint that a breast milk stain can leave behind. And how about the (not-so) occasional ‘greasy’ stain? Yeah, that comes from the fatty part of your breast milk. It turns out good nutrition can be messy. (source)

What About Colostrum

Your body’s natural amuse bouche, colostrum, is produced during your pregnancy and for 2 to 5 days after you have given birth. It will then blend with breast milk for about 10 to 14 days before the complete transition to breast milk takes place, at which point colostrum disappears off the menu altogether.

One of the primary benefits of colostrum is that its jammed pack full of protein. Great for your baby, not so great for that snow white onesie because, as we discussed above, protein is quick to leave some unsightly stains on fabric. (source)

Related reading

Getting Rid of Stains

The methodology behind removing stains is actually pretty straightforward, and something we will get into shortly. Before we get to the fun stuff, however, let’s brush up on some baby laundry tips.

Detergent Type

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of detergents from which you can choose.

  • Biological Detergents: These products contain enzymes, and enzymes are troopers when it comes to breaking down a protein stain. They can also deliver a perfectly good clean in cooler water temperatures. However, these enzymes may also be a skin irritant, so some parents decide to bypass this type of product.
  • Non-Biological Detergents: Perfectly capable of taking on tough stains, these detergents do not contain protein-attacking enzymes. You will tend to need to use higher water temperatures for a thorough clean, but some believe these products are easier on the skin.

Many popular brands make both biological and non-biological versions of their laundry detergents.

Pretreatment Options

Odds are, you are going to encounter a stain that is stubborn enough to require soaking in something stronger than cold water. In cases like these, you may be wondering what, exactly, is safe enough for your baby. Many parents have experienced exceptional results from using:

OxiClean Baby Stain Remover: free of dyes and chlorine, this oxygen-based cleaner has earned a favorable reputation.

Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap: an oldie but a goodie, this is a classic cleaner for those greasy stains.

Dreft Laundry Stain Remover: another industry standard among parenting circles, this stain remover can do its work in virtually any water temperature.

If synthetic cleaners aren’t really your thing, no worries. There are plenty of natural products that fight stains. A few that have been shown to help with breast milk blemishes are:

  • Lemon or Lime Juice: acts as a natural bleach with none of the chemical fallout; just be sure to make sure it’s 100% juice and only use it on your whites. (source)
  • White Vinegar: add about 1/4 cup to your normal wash cycle for a bit of extra cleaning and brightening power. (source)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: although eco-friendly and capable of cutting through stains, you might find it doesn’t get through greasy spots as well as some of its product-peers. (source)
  • Baking Soda: add four tablespoons of baking soda to 1/4 cup of water, and voila, you have an all-purpose stain remover. (source)

What About Bleach?

It can be tempting to just toss everything in the washer, along with a healthy dose of bleach, and call it a day. But, as frustrating as breast milk stains can be, we advise you put the bleach down and step away from the washer.

Bleach is harsh. Fun fact: it can actually break down polymers that give certain outfits, including some baby clothes, their fire retardant properties. (source)

Moreover, bleach can irritate the delicate skin of our babies. If you do resort to using bleach, be sure to run the laundry load through an extra rinse cycle or two.

Related reading

Removing Fresh Breast Milk Stains

If you can immediately address a milk spill, it will, of course, be much easier to remove. So, if the planets align and you can act quickly:

  1. Rinse off the breast milk with cold water.
  2. Soak the garment for at least 15 minutes in cold water. This will help break down the stain and prevent it from setting into the fabric.
  3. Work the stain with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush (like a toothbrush), taking care, not to overstretch or otherwise damage the fabric.
  4. Wash as the garment as per the label instructions.
  5. Dry in the sun to harness Mother Nature’s natural bleaching powers.

Removing Set-In Breast Milk Stains

Let’s assume that, because you’re pretty busy raising a member of the next generation, you usually are not able to drop everything to soak a fresh colostrum stain in cold water. In such a case:

  1. Rinse off the area as best you can. If there is any crusty residue left, gently scrape it away.
  2. Pretreat the fabric by spraying your product of choice on the stain.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush (such as a toothbrush), gently working the pretreatment into the stain.
  4. Allow the pretreatment to sit on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes, but feel free to wait a whole 24 hours or more if your pretreatment allows for it.
  5. Wash per the garment label’s instructions.
  6. Dry in the sun. Remember-it’s the most natural bleach in the world.

Be prepared to wash, rinse, and repeat as needed. Stains are stubborn little beasts, but with some elbow grease, you can get those fabrics looks bright and clean.

Related reading

What About Mom’s Clothes?

It’s not just the baby’s clothes that are going to take a breast milk beating from time to time. Odds are, you have stained shirts, sheets, and bras just begging to step through that washer door.

The good news is, all of the above will work for your clothes as well. So simply:

  1. Rinse off the breast milk.
  2. Pretreat your fabric.
  3. Gently rub with a soft-bristled brush.
  4. Allow the pretreatment to soak in.
  5. Wash per the garment label’s instructions;
  6. Dry in the sun; your clothes can reap the benefits of a natural bleach, too.

While it might be tempting to use detergents that are a little more built for strain fighting business, remember that your baby’s bare skin will continuously be in contact with your body and clothing. In the interest of not accidentally passing along something that might be irritating to young skin, we advise parents to stick with milder products whenever possible.

Related reading

Wrapping up

Remember: improperly treated milk stains can reappear on clothing even after it has been put through a normal wash cycle. To avoid this, be sure to master your rinse, pretreat, and scrubbing skills; you don’t want those stains surprising you when you’re putting away clean laundry.

Seriously, that dog looked side-eyed at me for months.

  1. Soak the fabric in cold water: Treat milk stains as soon as possible for the best results. You will need to put the stained fabric into cold water for five to 10 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water since it can darken the stained area. While soaking, you do not need to use any detergent. The cold water soak may be all that is needed. If the stain appears to be gone, move on to step 3.
  2. Treat with laundry detergent: If the stain remains, rub liquid laundry detergent into the stained area and soak in room temperature water for half an hour. Every three to five minutes while the milk-stained clothing is soaking, you should gently rub the stained area between your fingers for a few seconds. You are trying to allow the detergent to work its way into the stained fabric, loosening up the milk proteins and fats adhering to the material. Rinse thoroughly.
  3. Use a stain remover: After thoroughly rinsing the fabric, add a stain remover stick, gel, or spray to the stained area, and allow it to sit for seven to 10 minutes. You do not need to check on the fabric or rub it during this period. Also, do not skip this step. Whether you see a stain remaining or not, you will want to use a stain remover to ensure that no protein or fat has been left on the garment. Remaining residue can eventually turn yellow later.
  4. Repeat the first three steps as needed: Dried stains or stains set in over a long period of time may need several repetitions of soaking, treating with laundry detergent, and the use of a stain removal product to fully remove the stain.
  5. Wash normally: Once you feel the stain is adequately fixed, wash your item as you normally would and at the temperature and fabric settings recommended for the garment. If the stain remains after washing, repeat steps 1 through 3 again before drying.
  6. Use the dryer if you are sure the stain is gone: Once you have verified that the stain has been fully removed, you can use the drying machine. It might be difficult to determine if there is still a residue on wet fabric but inspect it well before you decide if it is ready for the dryer. Drying will set the stain permanently.

How to Remove Milk and Cream Stains

How to Remove Milk and Cream Stains From:

Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone,

Masonry Tile, Sandstone, Slate, Terrazzo


Remove any excess. Wash the stained area with a solution of washing soda or detergent (never use soap) and water. Use a cloth or gently brush. Rinse the area thoroughly with clear water and allow to dry.

Fur/Natural, Fur/Synthetic

Wipe up any excess spill. Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds. Dip a cloth in only the foam and apply. Wipe again with a clean dry cloth. If a grease stain remains, powder the stain with an absorbent, allowing plenty of time for it to work. Gently brush out the powder and rinse the area with a damp cloth. Allow fur to air dry.


Wipe up the excess with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water. If any stain remains, dip a wet toothbrush into powdered cleanser and gently scrub the spot. Rinse well and wipe dry with a clean cloth.


Wipe up any excess cream from the surface. Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Swish to create a great volume of suds. Apply only the foam with a sponge. Wipe with a clean dry cloth. If a grease stain remains, powder the stain with an absorbent such as corn meal. Give it plenty of time to work. Gently brush it out. Repeat if necessary. Follow with Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner or Fiebings Saddle Soap to condition the leather. If after applying the absorbent and brushing it off, any stain persists, use Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner or other liquid leather cleaner. Rub it in with a clean soft cloth and allow to dry. Again, condition as usual.


Remove any excess spill with a cloth. Wash as soon as possible in hot sudsy water. Rinse in hot water and dry immediately with a soft cloth.


Blot up excess spill from surface of fabric. Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Swish to create a great volume of suds. Apply only the foam with a sponge. Wipe with a clean dry cloth. If a grease stain remains, powder the area with an absorbent, allowing plenty of time to work. Gently brush the stain out.


Carefully blot up the excess. With a cloth or sponge dipped in cool clear water and squeezed almost dry, wipe the stained area. Overlap strokes to prevent streaking. Gently pat the area dry.


Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds. Dip a cloth in only the foam and apply. Rinse with a clean cloth dipped in clear water and squeezed almost dry. Polish or wax as soon as possible.

Too much calcium is bad for your wardrobe. These tips will let you get rid of those stains permanently.

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