Ask an Ostomy Lifestyle Expert

Stain Removal

October 2017

Message Body:

I hope you include information for caregivers in your service. My husband has an ileostomy and I’m his caregiver/helper. Can you help me with advice for doing laundry after leaks producing strong stains on white underwear and sheets?
Thank you.


Caregivers are vital and dedicated members of the recovery and healing team. Our caregivers are with us all the way. Together, as a team, everyone fights the good fight. Their care, concern, and ongoing commitment is one of the greatest gifts that can be given. They keep us on track. They give us strength. They minister to our needs. They work hard on our behalf. Their shoulders are strong as they share our burdens with us. They join us in the journey, and we are forever grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Fabric Cleaning Tips:

Tips that work on many types of bodily fluids, all of which include proteins (urine, feces, vomit, sweat, and blood).

The basic idea is to treat these protein-based stains without setting the stain into the fabric. Therefore, you want to use cold (not warm or hot water), when treating them, because warmer temperatures can set the stain into the fabric.

Always rinse the stain with cool running water, and soak also in a detergent solution containing enzymes, especially if the stain is old.

Next, use a mildly acidic stain remover to treat the stain, following are 3 recipes:

*1 part vinegar, 2 parts water.


*1 part lemon juice, 2 parts water.


*Cream of tartar, and enough water to make a paste.

Blot one of these acidic stain removers on the stain caused by the bodily fluid to help remove the stain.

Hint: Always test these stain removers in an inconspicuous area of the fabric to make sure it will not harm your fabric before applying to the stained area.

For really stubborn stains you can also apply a paste made from water and unseasoned meat tenderizer powder to the stain. The meat tenderizer contains enzymes which will help break up the protein within the bodily fluid stain.

(If you think of why unseasoned meat tenderizer works, it’s because tenderizer is used to break down the proteins within meat, making it softer and easier to chew. Just as it breaks up protein bonds within meat, so does it break up protein stains, thus helping you more easily remove them.

These powered tenderizers do this by being composed of enzymes, which are activated with water. Generally, the enzymes that are used come from natural sources, including the two most common enzymes, bromelain, which is found in pineapple, and papain, which is found in papaya, for example.)

Let the paste sit on the stained area for approximately 30 minutes, and then rinse and launder.

Make sure you don’t dry the garment until you confirm the stain has been removed because otherwise, it can set the stain.

Do hope your fabric cleaning challenges will be successful!

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