How to Remove Milk or Cream Stains from Clothes Carpet Upholstery

Milk stain
Ariel Skelley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

We are taught not to cry over spilled milk, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the stains. Milk, cream and whipped cream are liquid protein. If you've ever left spilled milk on a shirt for a few days, you'll know why it's important to act promptly! Milk will sour and the odor is often more difficult to remove than the stain.

How to Remove Milk or Cream Stains from Washable Clothes

The key to removing milk or cream stains is to tackle them as soon as possible.Immediately blot up as much of the milk as possible with a white cloth or paper towel. Next, flush the milk from the fabric by holding the stain with the wrong side of the fabric under a faucet of cold running water. This will force the protein solids out of the fibers. If you can't hold the fabric under a faucet, flood the stained area by blotting with a very damp cloth dipped in cool water. Never use hot water because it cooks the protein making the stain hard to remove.

After rinsing, wash the milk stained clothes as soon as possible as recommended on the care label using a good detergent and warm water. 

If the milk or cream stain is dried or old, scrape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes using a bit of heavy duty liquid laundry detergent with enough enzymes to break down the stains (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty). Give the stains a light scrub with a soft bristled brush before tossing in the washer for a full wash.

If the stains are still present, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiCleanNellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the stained items and allow them to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stains. If they are gone, wash as usual. If they remain, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stains but they should come out. Be patient!

The same techniques can be used to remove chocolate or flavored milk stains. If treated promptly, these stains will also come out. For older chocolate milk stains, use the oxygen-based bleach soak to remove the stains.

How to Remove Milk or Cream Stains from Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the coffee creamer or milk landed on your favorite suit or blouse that is dry clean only, use a spoon to scoop away as much liquid as possible and then blot the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in plain cool water. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Milk or Cream Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

If milk is spilled on carpet or upholstery, act quickly. Use a spoon to scoop up as much liquid as possible. Start at the outside of the spill and work toward the center to prevent spreading it even larger. Finish by blotting with white paper towels to absorb as much liquid as possible.

While the stain is fresh, dip a clean white cloth or sponge in cool water and blot the stained area from the outside edges toward the center. Try not to over-saturate the fibers and move to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred or rinse out the sponge. As one section is cleaned, blot excess moisture with a clean dry white cloth or paper towel.

Next, mix one tablespoon of liquid dish washing soap with two cups of warm water. Using a clean cloth or sponge dipped in the mixture, saturate the stain working from the outside edges toward the center. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred to the cloth. Work slowly and methodically. 

When no more stain is being transferred, dip a clean cloth in plain water to rinse the area. Rinsing is very important because the soap solution can actually attract soil. Blot with a dry cloth and allow to air dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift fibers.

If the stain did not come out, mix a solution of the oxygen bleach and cool water (follow package directions for amount of product to use). Saturate the stained area with the solution and allow it to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes. Then blot up the solution and "rinse" with plain water by sponging the area. Finally, blot and blot with a clean dry cloth until all moisture is gone.  Allow to air dry away from direct heat.

If the upholstery is vintage or silk, consult a professional.