When your kids first discover chocolate, it’s a magical moment for everyone. Unless they teleported from another planet, it will be love at first bite for your child, and their look of fascination and delight is something worth capturing in your memory!
At some point, however, the little ones’ love of chocolate is going to get out of hand – literally speaking. They may be chowing down on a chocolate bar with glee, only for that treat to end up splattered and smudged in their shirt or one-piece.
All the parents that you know probably have a hilarious photo of their little one absolutely covered in peanut butter or yogurt, and now it’s your turn to join in the fun. You’ve already dealt with spaghetti sauce, mashed peas, and who knows what else. Chocolate is your next challenge, and you might not know what to do!
Don’t freak out, because we’ve got your back. Here are the top tips for removing chocolate stains from your kids’ clothes!
Why Chocolate is Tough
Chocolate stains are notoriously difficult to get out because chocolate is a dairy product – those proteins and enzymes settle into clothes fast.
Combined with tannins (yes, the stuff in red wine), oil (also tough), and the natural ink-like qualities of cacao, you’ve got a serious challenge on your hands when your kid smears chocolate into their cutest white t-shirt or pants.
Yes, chocolate stains are trickier to remove than grass stains, crayon marks, gum goo, and even some art supplies like clay or Play-Doh, so your best bet is to have an arsenal of different tools and techniques in your back pocket.
The typical plan of attack for stains may not get you very far when dealing with chocolate, but don’t give up just yet. Be on the lookout for enzymatic stain remover the next time you go to the grocery or pharmacy. It might take some time to find the right one, but read those labels and pick up a few different brands and take multiple attempts at solving the problem.
These types of stain removers are also going to help you conquer stains from ice cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt (yes, even the rainbow-colored ones). Stains from the dreaded milk-and-cereal will happen, so be prepared!
Tackle Fresh Stains Fast
So you’re minding your own business when your kid informs you (probably by pointing and mumbling at the stain) that they’ve spilled chocolate on their shirt. What’s done is done, so don’t get mad – it’s time to jump into action!
Before we talk about the best way to get out that fresh chocolate stain, here’s what NOT to do:
- Smudge the stain further with your fingertips or a napkin
- Leave the stain to sit and wait for later
- Pour water all over the stain (sparkling water doesn’t help either)
- Immediately throw the garment in the washing machine
- Cross your fingers and hope it goes away
Instead, remove the clothing and grab a fork, knife, or toothpick to get as much chocolate out of the fabric as possible. Do whatever you can to scrape off excess chocolate without spreading the stain or damaging the clothing.
You won’t be able to remove all the chocolate like this, and that’s okay. Your next move is to rinse, so we’re not finished yet.
Rather than cranking up the hot water and frantically scrubbing away, you’ll want to turn the garment inside out and rinse the area with cold water. Heat is what causes stains to settle more quickly and permanently, so the colder the water, the better.
From the inside out, that water will agitate the stain less and reduce the chances of settling as well. Trust us – this is the right move!
From there, the cycle of stain removal begins, and you should start with something simple like liquid laundry detergent or dish soap. Save those specialized remover products for later, because those will be the last resort.
A little goes a long way when you’re using these liquid soaps, so just a small squirt on the affected area is probably more than enough. Keep the cold water flowing as you gently rub the soap into the stain without too much pressure. The soap will do most of the work, so keep it light.
After you apply some of that soap, let the garment sit out for at least five minutes before you give it any more attention. No, staring at it won’t make the process go any faster. In the meantime, getting that chocolate off your kids’ hands and face will likely be a higher priority!
When you return to the stain, literally “rinse and repeat” until you see some progress being made. Things should look better after a few go-rounds, and don’t forget to allow for some time to pass between attempts. If you do choose to deploy the serious stain remover, be sure to let that stuff soak for more than twenty minutes before agitating it any further. It takes longer to work.
Eventually, you’ll come to a point where rinsing and repeating these steps is offering diminishing returns. It’s time to load the garment into the washing machine (follow those instructions on the label) and sit back – the bulk of the work is over.
Choose Durable Baby Clothes
It’s not a matter of if your kids are going to have an accident with a chocolatey snack, but when. If you’ve got your strategy ready for action, you’re in a good spot already, but the quality of your kids’ clothes also matters – especially in terms of durability.
Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time you’ve dealt with a stain like this, and it definitely isn’t going to be the last. Make sure you have a reliable wardrobe of high-quality kid’s clothes that can withstand many stains, wash cycles, soaks, scrapes, and everything else that might happen along the way.
It’s definitely worth picking out kids’ clothes that are built to last, since they are going to be enduring many stains over a short time span. Even though kids grow fast, they might wear the same clothes dozens or hundreds of times during infancy or their toddler phase.
Instead of going back to the store time after time and dealing with rips and tears in the fabric of your kids’ shirts, pants, and onesies, make some smarter buys that are built for life. These are clothes that you can proudly donate to friends and family soon after, so don’t fret!
Chocolate stains are just one of those rites of passage for parents. Now that you know the solution, they shouldn’t slow you down one bit.