Our long period of potty training is still ongoing, and at the moment, a lot of underwear it falling victim to that.

After washing by hand with clear water and washing in the washing machine at 60 °C, there still remain brown stains in many of the (colored) pants.
What is a good way to get rid of those stains?

There was a similar question about cloth diapers How do you remove stains from cloth diapers?, but sunning is not an option during fall and winter and bleaching in general does not work well with colored clothes, I suppose.

(Should somebody propose to just trash the stained underwear, this is not acceptable for us, as is is not only a question of cost but also a waste of ressources, especially as we need really many of them at the moment - sometimes 1..5 per day)

  • 2
    Using biological washing powder is good when removing "biological remnants" (e.g. poo)!
    – noelicus
    Nov 9, 2011 at 16:15
  • 1
    I haven't tried a biological washing powder like @noelicus suggested (I've usually heard them called "enzyme cleaners", or something similar), but I have heard rave reviews from people who have used them. If you haven't tried it, you should give it a shot.
    – Sarato
    Nov 10, 2011 at 2:27
  • We wash stained underwear on the 'sanitary' setting (US washers don't show degrees, which is lame) - I think this is close to 90 celcius. I feel this removes the stain better, and sometimes they re-washing helps too. So far the elastic bands have held up, but it is occasional staining.
    – Ida
    Feb 1, 2016 at 18:03
  • 2
    Take note that 60°C = 140°F while 90°C = 194°F and a quick Google search indicates warm or hot water sets stains. Feb 2, 2016 at 6:02

4 Answers 4


I'd suggest using one of those spray on spot removers and using it right after the clothes have been worn and slightly cleaned, don't let the spots sit on there longer than they have to. Took me a few washes but once I kept on top of it the stains are not that noticable anymore, although washing the clothes with color safe bleach also helped me out. Basically I do the following:

  1. Clean the underwear right away, when I notice it by rinsing off what I can by hand
  2. Spray on the stain remover, took me a bit to find one that I like and works well (since I am US based I won't mention products); I really soak it in sometimes
  3. Wash the laundry loads when I can, using child safe detergent and a small amount of color safe bleach
  4. Check the laundry right after the wash, if it's still stained I try to put it back in with more stain remover - my view is if it goes in the dryer it's going to stain more

So far I have been able to keep the stains from being too noticable, and I joke to my wife, if it get's too bad again then I'm dying all the underwear brown so it won't be noticable at all.


If bleaching works and this is a temporary issue, why not just buy lighter coloured or white undies and bleach them clean? We hand-wash, soak in bleach overnight and then wash in a machine and have no problems.

The other thing we do with our lad (currently undergoing toilet training) is bulk buy cheap undies. His childcare centre will often just toss soiled underwear whereas we wash and reuse.

BTW: if he is defecating up to 5 times a day, perhaps you should look at his diet. That does not sound too healthy. Certain foods (kiwi, apricots, etc) will cause our lad to poo more often. We will use these if he had gone more than a day without a movement.


You can still sun even in the fall and winter. Even if you need to put them in a sunny winner. Also you can try bac out. It helps remove biological stains and is all natural. Oxyclean also helps.

Good luck!

  • thank you - we always dry the laundry on the balcony, so it should be exposed to the sunlight anyway, but I think that's not sufficient for our large stains.
    – BBM
    Nov 10, 2011 at 8:49

Just wash the underwear as you would any piece of clothing. The biological stains, after normal washing, are harmless and of no ill effect. If you are self-conscious about the stain, or you thing that someone else might be, then put your panties or your briefs in the garbage. Some of the washing remedies outlined above are both dangerous and a waste of money and time. We are talking about a piece of clothing that is too close to areas that should not be subjected to residual bleaches, stain removing toxins and ritualistic cleaning methods.

  • 2
    Can you give a better cost breakdown of how purchasing new underpants compares to the "waste of money" other methods might cause?
    – Acire
    Feb 1, 2016 at 2:25

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