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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

Say Goodbye to Breastmilk Stains: Effective Stain Removal Methods

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A lactation professional friend named Des reached out to me yesterday to ask me a very interesting, probably wondered by many but rarely asked question, for a very common problem, one worthy of a blog!

You might see breastmilk stains on items such as nursing bra, babies clothing, bedding, reusable breastmilk pads, furniture, etc. Some people may have milk that is has a higher fat content or richer in protein which can make for a tougher or more yellow colored milk stain. The faster you can get it out the better but with a baby around you will likely not get to it until later, and that's ok because fortunately, there are several effective methods to remove these stubborn stains and restore your items to their original condition.

Here are some tried and tested techniques to help you say bye Felicia to breastmilk stains for good, even the tough ones!

1. Act quickly:

The key to successfully removing breastmilk stains is to address them as soon as possible. The longer a stain sets in, the more difficult it becomes to remove. So, tackle the stain as promptly as possible to increase your chances of success.

2. Cold water soak:

Start by rinsing the stained fabric with cold water to remove as much milk residue as possible. Then, fill a basin or sink with cold water and add a mild detergent. Allow the garment to soak for about 30 minutes. Afterward, gently rub the fabric together to further loosen the stain.

3. Pre-treat with stain remover:

For more stubborn breastmilk stains, consider pre-treating the affected area before washing. There are various stain removers available in the market (I like Oxyclean), but you can also make your own natural stain remover at home using equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap. Apply the stain remover directly to the stain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before washing.

Other natural stain remover options include:


Fresh lemon juice or bottled 100% lemon juice can be used as a natural stain remover. Its acidic properties make it effective in breaking down and removing various types of stains.

1. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stained area.

2. Gently rub the lemon juice into the stain using a cloth or sponge.

3. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the lemon juice to penetrate the stain.

4. Rinse the area with water.

5. Launder the fabric as usual, following the garment's care instructions.

Please note that lemon juice is most effective on fresh stains and may not completely remove older or stubborn stains. It's always a good idea to test lemon juice on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn't cause any discoloration or damage.


Vinegar can also be used as a stain remover and has mild bleaching action. It is particularly effective for removing stains and balancing discoloration on light or colored clothing.

1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

2. Spray the vinegar solution onto the stained area and let it sit for a few minutes.

3. Gently blot the stain with a clean cloth or sponge. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as it can spread the stain further.

4. Rinse the area with water.

5. Launder the fabric as usual, following the garment's care instructions.

Vinegar's acidic nature helps break down and remove stains, but it's essential to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the stain to ensure compatibility and avoid any potential damage.

4. Enzyme-based cleaners:

Enzyme-based cleaners are excellent for breaking down protein-based stains like breastmilk. Look for laundry detergents that contain enzymes specifically designed to target protein stains. Follow the instructions on the product label for best results.

5. Sunlight and fresh air:

Sunlight can work wonders in fading and eliminating stains. After treating the stain, put the garment outside in direct sunlight. The combination of sunlight and fresh air can help lighten the stain and remove any residual odor. This method works especially well for white or light-colored fabrics.

6. Repeat if necessary:

Sometimes, removing breastmilk stains may require more than one attempt. If the stain persists after the first round of treatment, don't lose hope. Repeat the process or try an alternative method to increase your chances of success.

7. Be cautious with heat:

Avoid exposing breastmilk stains to heat until you have successfully removed them. Heat can set the stain, making it more challenging to remove. Therefore, refrain from using hot water or applying heat through ironing until the stain is completely


Breastmilk stains may be stubborn, but with the right approach and a little patience, you can effectively remove them from your clothes and fabrics. Act quickly, use cold water soaks, pre-treat with stain removers, opt for enzyme-based cleaners, harness the power of sunlight, and repeat the process if needed. Remember, persistence is key in saying goodbye to breastmilk stains and keeping your items looking fresh & clean.

Thank you @_chestiebestie Destinée Cameron, CBS, IBCLC-pending, for raising this question so that parents everywhere can have some answers and help!

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