This post is sponsored by Clorox.

Whenever I am wearing clothes, which is 99% of the time, I try my best not to stain them. I put my napkin in my lap at a restaurant, I position myself back a bit when I am washing my hands at the sink, I opt for white wine over red when I’m wearing a white shirt, I change into something I don’t care about when I’m cooking, and so on. It doesn’t always work, but through a lifetime of ruining my favorite shirts, best practices for stain avoidance has become somewhat ingrained in everything I do.

I guess that’s just part of being an adult. Or “adulting,” as the kids call it today.

Kids have no such life experience.

They do not know how much money you spent on their clothes, what condiments will not come out in the wash or even why it’s a bad thing to wear a shirt with a stain on it in the first place. And when I tell them to wash their hands before they touch anything, they think wiping their sticky fingers on my clean clothes is an option.

When Mazzy and Harlow were babies, the potential for clothing stains was somewhat predictable. Spit up, diaper blow-outs, drool. It was a short list and every stain seemed to turn their clothes a dull shade of yellow. Pee yellow, I call it. Subtle, but unacceptable nonetheless.

Since they’ve gotten older and and as school is in full swing, the stains have changed. The sources have become more varied and the stains themselves have become more colorful (not in a good way), but the thing that irks me most is that my kids should know better by now. They are thinking human beings with responsibilities and the wherewithal to care. Plus, they each like to wear the same three things over and over again (never mind the overflowing closet of clothes) so you’d think they’d take special precautions.

But NO. That’s not how my kids operate.

10 Stains I Can Guarantee My Kids Are Going to Make Before They Make Them:

1) Toothpaste Stains

The girls get dressed before breakfast and brush their teeth as their last task before we leave the house. I’m not sure how to order anything differently but this means that at some point, someone screams, “MOMMMMMMMMMMMM!” from the bathroom. I already know the issue. A squirt of toothpaste or an errant toothbrushing spitball has landed on their shirt. Every. Single. Morning. Usually in the exact same spot— chest level, front and center. You know what happens next. You either drench the spot with water only to have it dry up in a chalky white mess 15 minutes later when you are already on your way to school, or you spend the next 20 minutes picking out new shirt and miss the bus to school altogether.

2) Getting Coffee on the Way to School Stains

We take the bus to school which is right next to a coffee shop. When we are a few minutes early, the kids always want to go inside to get a bagel or a muffin. Once I’m at the register, I can’t resist getting a coffee for myself, but I know exactly how this will play out every time. When I get on the bus, I’ll have to rifle through my bag for my Metrocard, balancing a very hot cup of coffee in the other hand. Just as I locate the card and start to praise myself for the impressive transfer from my wallet to the Metrocard slot without even spilling my— OH @$%#! Mazzy just yelled, “CAN I DO IT???” Then reached out for my card before I responded, bumping my bag and causing me to fall off balance while my hot coffee careens out of the cup, leaving brown blotches on the cuff of my sleeve that will be with me for the rest of the day. At least stains are better than third degree burns, right?

3) Crafting Stains

When approaching a crafting station in a classroom, there are usually two groups of supplies: the crayons, colored pencils and washable markers, and then the big, thick, more permanent markers, the paints, the gel pens, the pastels and the craypods that my children choose. It’s like the same way kids know instinctually that gummy worms taste better than broccoli without ever trying either, kids also know they can wreak more havoc with a black Sharpie than a crayon. And— just like adults never spill white wine on themselves but always spill their red? Kids are 10X more likely to draw on themselves with a permanent marker than a washable. But it’s not just the markers. Did I mention the GLUE??? By the time my kids are done, their clothes look like a craft project too.

4) Playground Stains

During the day and after school, the kids play on blacktop, grass, sand and dirt in the playgrounds and parks of Manhattan. Neither are the type to wrestle on the ground, but that doesn’t stop them from toppling over during a game of tag accidentally, dragging their feet as the scoot down the sidewalk or rolling down a grassy hill that might just be a thin cover for the squishy mud lurking underneath. They come home with scuff marks on their shoes, grass stains on their knees and an overall beige cast on everything.

5) Ice Cream Stains

There’s nothing that caps a tough day of school better than a scoop of ice cream. The guy who drives the ice cream truck knows this too because he parks himself right outside our school at pick-up, challenging the entire parent body to tell their children “no.” Whenever I cave, I know I’ll have one more stain to deal with that day. Harlow might hate when ice cream drips onto her clothes but not enough to get a cup instead of a cone, even though I’ve told her repeatedly that a cup will solve 99% of her problems. She also prefers chocolate to vanilla which is way harder to hide once it falls on your dress. When I tried to explain the concept of licking the ice cream where it meets the cone so it doesn’t drip over the edge, she said, “Hello, ice cream? This is cone. Cone? This is ice cream. Get it? Meets the cone????” Then she proceeded to bite off the cone tip on the bottom, which SPOILER ALERT! Did not end well.

6) Slime Stains

Is everyone else’s kids as obsessed with making slime as mine? It’s detergent, glue and shaving cream mixed together into a putty that can easily come off fingers, floors, tables…everything but clothes and fabrics. It comes out in the wash just fine, but in the moment, trying to clean it up usually makes a bigger mess. Harlow recently learned a difficult but very valuable lesson: Do not leave slime in your purse. Another fun lesson we learned the other night? Do not take slime with you to bed.

7) Greasy Food Stains

Whenever my kids eat french fries or other greasy foods, somehow, I’m the one who ends up with grease stains all over my clothes. “I’m not a human napkin!” I tell them. “What does that mean?” they ask as they wipe their fried chicken bits on the bottom of my skirt and nuzzle their oily noses on my shoulder. Thanks, guys. School makes these greasy food stains happen even more frequently because no one in the cafeteria is there to say, “put your napkin on your lap” or “Hey, Mazzy! Don’t reach across the table because your entire arm is about to fall into your neighbor’s tomato soup!”

8) Blood Stains

One time, Harlow came home hysterical. “There’s blood!” she yelled at me. “Where???? Are you hurt???? What happened????????” I yelled back frantically trying to ascertain if we should be hightailing it to the emergency room. “RIGHT THERE!!!!!” she pointed, teary-eyed, at the knee of her leggings. “Where?” I couldn’t see anything. “RIGHT THERE!!!!” She pointed again. I looked. There was a tiny blood stain, maybe about the size of a pin prick. I pulled up her pant leg and spied a barely visible scrape underneath. “Oh sweetie. Are you ok? Should we go to the hospital?” She looked at me wide-eyed. “NO!” And suddenly she was fine. Works every time.

9) Frosting Stains

My kids don’t eat cupcakes I realized recently. They eat the frosting on top of cupcakes and then ditch the cake part. They stick their tiny fingers and full faces in that pastel pink goodness until they look part-cupcake themselves. Who needs plain cake once the damage has been done? And by damage, I’m talking about a Cookie Monster cupcake served at a birthday party once that didn’t just stain Harlow’s clothes, it gave her a blue mustache that I couldn’t remove for three straight days.

10) Unknown After School Stains

The thing about both Mazzy and Harlow being school-aged is that I don’t really know what goes on once they get there. I drop them off in class and then for 6 1/2 hours, they are on their own, learning, playing, etc. I can guarantee the thought of keeping their clothes clean never crosses their mind. Mazzy comes home from school with a stain on her shirt pretty much everyday. “How did you get that?” I ask her. “I don’t know,” she shrugs. “Do you know what it is?” I try again. “Nope,” she says, sticks her shirt in the hamper and then the mystery is mine to solve.

Don’t you know? She’s expecting me to wash it so she can wear for the third time this week, because that’s her favorite shirt!

If your kids are like mine and are super attached to certain outfits that they want to wear again and again and again, pairing Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster with your regular detergent removes stains and extends the life of their favorite outfits by keeping their clothes looking brighter and newer longer. I recommend their Clorox 2® Free and Clear formula which is made without perfumes or dyes.

If you treat your kid’s clothes right, they might even survive the first kid and be in good enough condition to hand down to the next one. Then they can create their own mystery stains from scratch.


This post is sponsored by Clorox, but all opinions are my own.