In most cases, drool is usually clear. However, when it dries on fabric it tends to turn white or yellowish in colour. This article explores why this happens and how you can prevent your clothes from being stained with drool if you have a child that dribbles a lot.
Why does drool dry as white colour on fabrics?
Drool dries as a white or yellowish stain on fabrics because saliva contains amylase enzymes. These are the same enzyme that you use to break down starches into sugar when cooking. When drool comes into contact with fabric, it will also act as a cooking starch and dissolve out of the saliva leaving behind an insoluble powdery residue.
Although saliva contains amylase, it is still present in small amounts and will dissolve easily enough when exposed to water. Unfortunately for anyone who gets drool stains on their clothes, the dryer heat that occurs during tumble drying causes the undissolved particles of saliva to re-precipitate back into insoluble starch like particles which show up as white spots on fabrics. This is why you often find drool stains to be much less noticeable when clothes are hung out to dry, than when they come out of the tumble dryer after the drying cycle has finished.
How to get rid of drool stains at home
There are several ways that you can prevent baby drool from staining your clothes.
Firstly, you can try to use a fabric softener in the wash cycle of the laundry if this is practical for you. Although most fabrics will not be damaged by using fabric conditioner during normal laundering processes, it’s best that you check with care label instructions first before doing so as there are some types of fabrics that may be adversely affected by fabric softeners.
Secondly, you can try using an enzyme pre-treatment product on stains before putting them through the wash cycle of the washing machine. By applying enzymes directly to drool stains prior to laundering them, these products will help break down saliva particles more easily during tumbling in the washer and will make it easier to remove these stains from your fabrics.
You may also find that you get better results by spot treating drool stained fabric with a little bit of saliva yourself before washing them in the machine. As mentioned earlier, when exposed to water, undissolved particles of amylase will re-dissolve back into saliva which can then be easily removed from the fabric. So by getting hold of a clean cloth or cotton wool pad and applying your own saliva to the drool stain, you will be able to remove most of it before laundering in the machine at all.
Of course, this method only works if you have access to water, so it’s better than if possible then trying spot treating with saliva on the go before laundering in the machine when you have access to a sink.
In some cases, if your baby is still drooling regularly and getting saliva stains on their clothes then it’s worth trying out one of the special dribble bibs that are available from many large supermarkets or online outlets such as Amazon. These products usually have a waterproof backing or layer that is designed to prevent saliva or drool from soaking into the fabric of clothing underneath, which means that it will be much easier to keep their clothes clean and dry.
There are also several other products on the market now for preventing baby dribble stains on fabrics such as waterproof pillow protectors and mattress covers that can help reduce staining on bedding.
Prevent drool from staining your clothes and furniture
There are several methods that can be used to prevent drool from staining your clothes. The most common of these is the use of a bib, but there are also products specifically designed for preventing furniture and fabric damage caused by saliva such as waterproof mattress protectors and pillow protectors. These all serve the same purpose and work in much the same way. By creating a barrier that is impermeable to saliva, drool will not be able to soak into the fabric of your clothes when it’s in use and instead drops off onto the ground or any surface underneath where it can easily be cleaned up without staining anything.
Another method that can also help prevent stains from saliva on fabrics is the use of an enzyme pre-treatment product. By using these products directly on any drool stains to your clothes before washing them, the enzymes will help break down saliva particles more easily during tumbling in the machine and make it much easier for you to remove these tough stains afterwards.
You may also find that applying your own saliva directly to drool stains on fabrics before washing them in the machine gives you good results too. By getting hold of a clean cloth or cotton wool pad and applying your own saliva to the affected area, undissolved particles of amylase will re-dissolve back into saliva which can then be easily removed from the fabric during laundering.