From grass to mud, stains are an ever-present dilemma as you attempt to keep your child’s sports uniform presentable. Replacing badly stained uniforms is prohibitively expensive, but you still want your child to experience the confidence that a brightly clean uniform engenders. The following are some stain removing tips that parents have found to be effective in keeping their child’s uniform like new.
Wet vs. Dry
Kids play in a wide variety of conditions and it’s never a good idea to try to clean a wet uniform. Hang it up and let it dry first so you can make an accurate assessment of the type of stains you’ll be trying to remove.
Mud and Grass
You have a couple of options for removing mud and grass stains. Rinse as much mud as possible off the uniform in a utility sink. You can also hang it over a clothesline and spray the mud off with a hose. Use cold water as warm water may cause the stains to set.
Another method is to wait until the mud has dried to begin the cleaning process. Remove as much of the dried mud as you can by lightly scraping or briskly brushing the mud in the same direction as the weave of the fabric.
Presoaking a uniform is essential. You can place it in a large plastic bucket of warm water – never hot – or use the washing machine to let it soak. Add approximately two tablespoons of a heavy-duty laundry detergent and one cup of baking soda as your presoak formula. Other parents recommend saturating the stain with a mixture of one cup white vinegar and three tablespoons of iodized salt before presoaking.
You can also use a premade presoak formula designed for the task instead of the vinegar or baking soda, though the baking soda has the added benefit of deodorizing. Allow the uniform to soak for at least an hour before washing as usual. You can also let the uniform soak overnight before laundering if the stains are particularly heavy.
If you have hard water, it contains minerals that will render laundry detergent less effective. Hard water can be remedied by adding some water softener – not fabric softener – to the presoak solution.
Know your fabric. Some uniforms are made with moisture-wicking properties and require specific cleaning procedures. Always wash uniforms by themselves and never use chlorine bleach to remove stains. If you feel the need to use bleach, be sure it’s a color-safe version or an oxygen-based bleach. Parents recommend never placing a uniform in a dryer. It can cause shrinkage, damage lettering, fade colors, and can set stains. The best solution is air drying.