Everybody poops, and sometimes at inconvenient times. 

Most parents know that soiled underwear is a frequent reality when raising young children, especially during potty training. Yet it’s surprising how many adults also have unexpected bowel movements. Even marathon athletes, some of the healthiest people on earth, tend to have unfortunate accidents in the middle of a race, bringing a whole new meaning to the term “running shorts.”

Accidents can happen to anyone. While it’s not as embarrassing as it may seem, poop stains in your underwear still need a prompt and thorough cleaning. Unfortunately, the pesky marks aren’t always the easiest to remove and often require a little extra know-how. Learn how to work through tough cleaning jobs with these eight easy ways to get poop stains out of underwear.

Do Poop Stains Come Out?

The occasional poop stain isn’t impossible to manage. But it will become more challenging if you don’t notice and deal with it immediately. Always apply stain removers before running anything with feces stains through a hot water wash. 

A poop mark is a protein-based stain, like blood, grass, and milk. When heated, protein stains can cook and develop a tight bond with underwear fibers, making them nearly impossible to remove. You’ll need to keep them out of hot water, and especially the dryer, until the stain is gone. You can use the washing machine as a tool in removing poop stains, but a hot water cycle to start the stain removal process will likely leave you worse off.

How to Remove Poop Stains from Underwear

One of the best ways to remove poop stains from underwear is with an enzyme cleaner in a cold water soak. Enzymes, specifically protease enzymes, are targeted agents that break down stains so they can lift away from the fabric. Many high-quality laundry detergents use a blend of enzymes for comprehensive cleaning power against numerous substances.

Unfortunately, enzyme cleaners aren’t always readily on hand, nor do they work on all kinds of clothing. You should avoid enzyme cleaners for baby clothes and cloth diapers, two places that commonly get poop stains. Enzyme cleaners and harsh detergents can irritate a child’s sensitive skin. They can also damage certain materials like silk and wool, both protein fibers that could break down in the wash.

If you don’t have an enzyme cleaner, or it won’t work for the material, plenty of other options don’t rely on chemical stain removers. Most are items you’ll have right on hand at home, including:

  • Cold water wash
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Squeezed lemon juice
  • Vodka
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Let’s explore how to get poop stains out of underwear with each one.

1. Cold Water Wash

The first step in removing a poop stain is running it through cold water to loosen the excess poop and prevent it from setting. Hot or warm water can make the poop a challenge for any stain remover.

Wash baby poop clothes and underwear under cool water or soak them for about 10 minutes. Large pieces of poop will fall away, and you’ll help loosen the stain in preparation for the next step.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a trusted workhorse around the house, whether you’re removing bad fridge odors or cleaning the sink. And after you wash poop-stained underwear in cold water, baking soda works to remove any remaining brown stains.

Sprinkle baking soda onto the damp poop stain. Using a soft brush, gently scrub the stain until it comes out.

Before tossing the underwear in the washing machine, you can also try baking soda paste as a pre-treatment for poop stains. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water in a 2:1 ratio. Apply it to the dirty underwear, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Scrub lightly with your brush afterward, and rinse it away with water.  

3. Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is another all-purpose wonder and an awesome alternative to baking soda for cleaning if you’re all out. The acetic acid in white vinegar will immediately start destroying the stain and the poop smell.

For vinegar to be effective and not damage the fabric, it’s usually best to start with a diluted solution:

  • One tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • One quart cool water

You can mix the ingredients in a well-shaken spray bottle to spritz the stain or fill a bowl to soak the affected garment. Let the solution sit for a few minutes to break down the stain. Scrub the poop stain with your soft brush to make it disappear. For an extra cleaning boost, add a drop or two of dish soap to the solution.

Whether you need to get tough stains out of baby’s clothes or colored underwear, white vinegar won’t leave stains while it cleans. Even apple cider vinegar provides safe, hypoallergenic cleaning without the risk of staining.

4. Lemon Juice

The citric acid in lemon juice brightens underwear and removes stains. As a natural bleach substitute, it can also fade dark colors or strip them from clothes, so you should opt for lemon only when dealing with stained white underwear.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit for 15–30 minutes. Gently work it out with a brush until there is little to no lingering poop. You can then try washing the clothes or follow up with a baking soda paste or hydrogen peroxide cleaner to finish the job.

5. Vodka

Clear vodka makes a handy solvent for numerous carpet and clothes stains. When you have poopy clothes to manage, spray or dab them with a vodka-soaked cloth. Let the alcohol work for about 10–15 minutes. Blot it dry with a clean cloth, and allow the remaining alcohol to evaporate, which could take a few hours. Avoid flavored vodka because it may stain the clothes.

6. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach is perhaps the best color-safe stain remover and an excellent first option to deep clean all kinds of poopy clothes, including darker underwear and cloth diapers. After rinsing the poop stain with cold water, soak the clothes in a blend of oxygen bleach dissolved in warm water. Let them sit in the solution for an hour or longer until it gets all of the poop stains out.

7. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is oxygen bleach’s secret weapon, an oxidizer that breaks down the stain’s chemical bonds and makes it disappear. Make a 4:1 mixture of cold water and hydrogen peroxide for soaking the clothes. Add a couple of drops of dish soap for more cleaning power. Soak the poopy clothes for 10–15 minutes, or spot-treat the clothing by putting the solution in a spray bottle.

8. Bleach

If your natural stain removers aren’t doing enough to eliminate poop stains from underwear, try an upgrade to chlorine bleach. Most of us know to avoid bleach for colors, but in terms of efficiency on white clothing, it beats nearly all other stain removers.

Mix a tablespoon of bleach with a cup of water in a bowl. Soak the stained underwear for several minutes. While wearing rubber gloves, work the solution into the stain to help break it up. Avoid using this with another stain remover, as bleach can be extremely hazardous when combined with other chemicals.

Remove the Poop Stain Before You Wash

Your initial treatment should remove poop stains in their entirety. If your first attempts still leave marks on the underwear, avoid a hot water machine wash, as it can set the stain further. Instead, try cleaning the poop-stained underwear in the washing with laundry detergent and cold or warm water, adding bleach or oxygen bleach if possible.

A cold water wash with laundry detergent in the washing machine can also be a beneficial first step in removing poop stains from underwear. We still recommend rinsing excess poop before adding the clothes to the machine to keep your washer sanitary. You also don’t want to wash poopy underwear with other clothes, or you could have several more poop stains to clean.

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How to Prevent Poop-Stained Underwear

It can be hard work to remove poop stains from clothes, and it’s one chore that most of us would rather avoid. Sure, kids will have the occasional accident, but if you find that poop stains are becoming a recurring problem in your underwear, it’s time to snuff out the problem.

1. Watch Your Diet

Fiber is an essential part of a proper diet and can help you avoid the soft stools that cause skid marks. With the recommended amount of dietary fiber, you’ll help your colon bacteria process the stool more efficiently and add bulk. Stools will come out harder and reduce the amount of poop left behind to potentially stain your underwear.

Too much of a good thing can also leave you with poop stains in your underwear. Beans, lentils, and numerous fiber-rich vegetables can cause bloating and gas, which could result in feces escaping your body throughout the day. Dairy products will often cause similar issues, and beverages like coffee and alcohol can have laxative effects as well. Pay attention to what you eat to keep your bowel movements in check.

2. Change How You Wipe

One notable cause of frequent poop marks is improper wiping technique. But even if you’re thorough and wipe until the toilet paper comes out clean, you may still be missing small amounts that can end up in your underwear. 

Even doctors acknowledge that toilet paper isn’t always 100% effective. If you’re not getting the desired results, try upgrading to flushable wet wipes. Wet wipes aren’t as irritating to the sphincter as toilet paper and are more effective at loosening stuck-on stool.

Another great option is a bidet. Popular in Europe, this ultra-hygienic tool won’t aggravate hemorrhoids and is easy to attach to an existing water supply to the toilet. If you go this route, avoiding overuse is crucial, as studies have also shown a connection to anal pruritis and incontinence.

Get Cleaning Help

Poop in baby clothes and kid’s underwear is only one of the thousands of cleaning chores that come with raising a family. It can all feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, and in those moments when you can’t clean fast enough, Anita’s is here to provide relief.

Anita’s makes hiring a house cleaner simple, giving you a chance to select the services you need at a time that fits your schedule. Discover the difference a local expert can make in your life, and request a booking today!


Anita's Housekeeping Editors