Tips and tricks for using Oxiclean.
August 31, 2012 12:39 PM   Subscribe

I bought a box of Oxiclean. I have a bunch of dirty clothes. Now what?

I have a baby and so I also have a bunch of clothes, bibs, burping cloths and washcloths that have an assortment of stains from drool, vomit, food and even a bright pink antibiotic I had to give my baby for a week. Apparently Oxiclean is good at getting these sorts of stains out, but how do I do it being as effective as possible from the start?

Most stains are on white fabric, but there's also a few of baby's regular clothes and pj's that could use a little freshening-up.

Any laundry masters out there that can point me in the right direction?

I have a top load regular washer, if it matters.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
OxiClean is most effective (a) in hotter water, and (b) over a longer period of time.

Have you already tried washing these things once? I generally fill the washer (not too full), start a load on hot, wait for the washer to fill, and then open the lid to let the clothing soak with a couple scoops of OxiClean for a while (anywhere from twenty minutes to several hours) before letting the load run through normally. Make sure all the clothing is safe to wash in hot water first, although I hope most baby stuff would be.

If the stains remain after that level of treatment, you could try upping the OxiClean or the soak time, but I find the OxiClean stain stick (not the same thing as the granulated stuff) to be even more effective. It's a blue gel that comes in a tube. Put it on the stain, rub it in, let the item sit for several days, and then wash normally.
posted by pie ninja at 12:49 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I dump the clothes in a dishpan filled with warm water and a scoop or so of OxiClean and leave them sit for several days.

Depending if the clothes have already been laundered/dried, the stains may or may not come out.

I also toss half a scoop in with every wash, along with the detergent.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have two points to add:
- remember to set your washer to a second rinse as oxyclean is pretty gentle but residue can irritate baby skin.
- for baby poop stains (the yellow breastmilk ones) I found that wetting the area and rubbing a bar of old fashion yellow laundry soap (like Sunlight) on the stain before throwing it in the wash was nearly 100% effective at removing all traces of blow outs.
posted by saradarlin at 1:12 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they are tough local spots, you can make a paste of the Oxi, spread it over the spot, and let it sit for a couple hours or so. Then launder as normal with your regular detergent, adding a scoop of Oxi in the wash (once the tub has filled with water).

Or, skip the paste part and just do the regular laundering w/Oxi.

Note: I only do the paste thing on whites. I've not tried a paste of Oxi on darks or colors. Feel free to guinea pig.

Personally, I find that something like Spray-n-Wash gets stains out better than Oxi.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love OxiClean, but will mention that it's murder on my hands-- dries them out and makes them feel awful, especially if I'm rubbing it into fabric or otherwise handling it a lot. Definitely wear gloves if your hands are the least bit sensitive.

That said, I've never had any issues with items laundered with OxiClean, just the substance itself.
posted by charmcityblues at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Less performance art more answers please?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just spot-treat stains with an enzymatic stick, set the washer up, add oxy-clean and detergent to the water before the clothes, so it's well distributed, and then toss the clothes in (whites on hot or warm, bright colors on cold).
posted by zippy at 1:27 PM on August 31, 2012

Put oxyclean in warm water not too hot though. Let clothes soak, overnight is good you need to give all the enzymes time to do whatever it is enzymes actually do. Drain water and wash clothes as normal.

Easiest way I've found is to put some in an empty washing machine, let it fill with water a bit let it dissolve, throw in clothes and swish around and then turn off the machine and let the clothes sit over night. Turn on in the morning to let it finish it's cycle and then run again through a normal wash to get all the oxyclean out. I have sensitive skin and this works for me.

You can always just throw a scoop in with the normal wash too for an extra boost too, though I'd double rinse clothes for babies.

Be careful getting it on your hands as it can feel like it's burning a little if you then get your hands wet.
posted by wwax at 1:28 PM on August 31, 2012

I use Oxyclean in conjunction with detergent in HOT water. It's pretty great. If your washer has a presoak cycle, do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:38 PM on August 31, 2012

I keep a bucket in the utility sink, add a full scoop of OxiClean, and add HOT water - it needs the hot water to dissolve the powder and activate the bleach. Then I toss in whatever is stained or just gross and leave it to soak until I get around to tossing the whole bucket in the washing machine with the rest of a load. I've done this since my oldest was a baby, and have very few things that did not come out stain free, or at least kid-wearable, as a result.

Because I have a front-loading HE washer, I don't like to use the OxiClean powder in it. So I buy the OxiClean liquid and use that for things that don't need to be soaked but need a little help, along with my laundry soap. Again, three messy kids and a husband who has lots of work out clothes and bike racing gear. I do a LOT of laundry, and I absolutely swear by OxiClean.

I do like that both the powder and liquid are available in a dye- and scent-free version, too.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2012

Jolie Kerr's Ask a Clean Person column on the Hairpin has a wealth of information about how to use Oxyclean on a whole bunch of different stains, but most are in line with the above recommendations (use a paste on stubborn stains, soak for dirtier stuff, and add to regular wash to nip smaller dirt/stains in the bud). I will also say that putting baby stuff out in the sun to dry and bleach a little can sometimes do wonder on some pretty gross stains.
posted by goggie at 3:26 PM on August 31, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. I'm going to try the overnight soak this weekend and see how it works out.
Those of you who try it to pre-treat spots, is it ok on colors?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2012

Because I have a front-loading HE washer, I don't like to use the OxiClean powder in it.

Interesting. I have heard a bunch of anecdotal reports (and my own experience agrees) that regular use of OxiClean in a front loader is correlated with not having the stinky front loader problems that some people have. I've been using it in nearly every load for nearly five years- I do a soak cycle and then follow with a wash cycle. Since I have two preschool-aged boys it's pretty much my go-to for getting stains out.

I've noticed that if you get a stubborn stain, repeated washings with OxiClean will frequently vanquish them. It just takes a little patience.
posted by ambrosia at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2012

Just chiming in on the 'soak for a long time' chorus. I buy old white cloth napkins and table linens at garage sales - some of these things are yellowed from years of storage.

After a long (1 week or more) soak in a strong solution (two-three scoops in a 5-gal bucket) of warm water (to dissolve the Oxyclean), then a regular wash with extra rinse = snowy white linens.

It always amazes me. According to some local vintage fabric care experts, Oxyclean only attacks the stain (esp. the protein), not the fabric (as with bleach).
posted by dbmcd at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

My secret to using OxiClean is definitely HOT water, but if you are afraid of your clothing being in hot water, either use enough hot water to activate the OxiClean (the water will turn a milky white and yes, it is rough on one's hands!) and then fill the rest of the way with warm or cold water. Longer soaks help, too.
posted by kuppajava at 7:38 AM on September 1, 2012

Just as an FYI, Consumer Report rated Resolve as the best stain remover.
posted by futz at 7:52 AM on September 1, 2012

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