Some top tips to help you remove grass stains from your favourite clothes.
So, today’s unpopular opinion of the day is: grass stains are awesome. C’mon, they are. They’re like little green badges of honour stuck to your knees and elbows that tell the world, “Yeah, I left my iPhone inside, turned my Xbox off at the plug and played outside… in the great outdoors.”
French cricket, world cup football, stuck in the mud, beer pong – with the sun shining and the days longer than a flight to Sydney, enjoying the outdoors is what kids should be doing, and those little green badges of honour are marks every parent should be proper proud of.
That said, grass stains are still uber-annoying and Newton’s Fourth Law is unnervingly accurate, you know, that one about how for every new outfit a kid is bought, a grass stain will appear within minutes of putting it on (that was Newton, right?).
Anyhoo, the reason they’re uber-annoying is because removing a grass stain from the knee bit of some jeans or the elbow of your kid’s school uniform (or any kind of fabric-slash-upholstery for that matter) is harder than trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. And if that’s not enough to put a rain cloud on your mood, the longer you leave grass stains to dry, the tougher they are to remove (#sodslaw).
That’s why I’ve been busy talking to some professionals (aka my mum and grandma) about a) how you can prevent grass stains from ruining the nice, new clothes you bought your (usually ungrateful) kid and b) the old school tricks to remove them if option a) fails.
I think I just came up with a new slogan: if it’s to do with lawns, Joe’s has got your back (and elbows and knees)
First Off, How The Heck Does Grass Even Stain?
If you’ve ever stumbled across my blog before, you’ll know I’m not one to get all sciency. The problem is, it’s hard to explain grass stains without getting a little bit Key Stage 3, for which I apologise. But, basically, grass stains are mostly made up of the chlorophyll from your plants, which is sucky news because chlorophyll is actually a dye stain, which is even suckier news because dye stains are what Mrs Hinch would probably describe as “the toughest stains to remove”. And to top off all this suckiness with an extra dollop of the suck, most grass stains will be accompanied by other stain removal challenges like sweat stains and mud stains and juice stains and a bunch of other stains too. Basically, grass is really-really good at staining clothes.
The Best Ways To Prevent Grass Stains
If you are hoping for some foolproof, awesome, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that, magic formula for preventing grass stains from ever appearing, I’ve got some bad news. The only 100% way to prevent them is to avoid playing garden games or playing on grass in general, which I’m never going to suggest. Instead, I’ve got a list of other things you can do that might or might not help you in your battle against grass stains:
- Buy one of those faded blue boiler suits your parents made you play in as a child (the one’s mechanics love wearing).
- Have a drawer (or space on your floor) for some designated ‘playing on grass’ clothes that you don’t care enough about to make worry about stains.
- Teach your kids the difference between designated “playing on grass” clothes, school uniforms, church clothes, wedding gowns, morning suits and other outfits so they’ll know what to pop on whenever they head to the park or into the garden.
- Always carry a spare pair of clothes should the urge for some spontaneous playing arise.
- Wear a beekeeping outfit over your normal clothes for protection.
- Travel everywhere in a zorb ball.
- Only ever wear green or camouflage clothing.
Tongue-in-cheekiness aside, the only legitimate way to stop pesky grass stains from becoming permanent reminders of that time your dog took out your legs while you were carrying a tray of G&Ts to your BBQ buddies is to treat any and all grass stains right away. Like, immediately. The fresher the grass stain the less time it has to dye your clothes, and that makes them easier to remove. So as soon as you notice a grass stain, get treating (by using my gran’s advice below).
Removing Grass Stains, According To My Grandma
Before you try any of Granny Joe’s grass removal hacks, the first thing you need to check is the label: if your clothes are dry clean only, forget everything I’ve written below and take your clothes to your favourite magician of a dry cleaner and point at the stain. They’ll do what they can to get that sucker out without ruining your clothes. If, however, your grass-stained clothing is machine washable, well, there are a few nifty little hacks you can try.
- Pre-treat the stain(s) with whatever liquid laundry detergent is hiding in your cupboards. These days, most liquid laundry detergents have enzymes that are awesome at breaking down the proteins and chlorophyll in said stain. What you’ll want to do is, rinse your stained clothing and then soak it in some warm water with a capful of all-fabric bleach. Once you’ve done this, leave it to soak for an hour or so, then rinse your clothing off again, repeating until the stains have vanished.
- Pretreat by dabbing a 50/50 mixture of warm water and plain white vinegar. The aim is to get this mixture to penetrate the satin as deep as possible, and then leave this watered down vinegar cocktail thing to do its thing for five to ten minutes (enough time to make a cuppa). Once you’ve done this, and had your tea, apply some laundry detergent directly to the stain. Ideally you want to use a bleach-based detergent because that will contain the enzymes needed to break down grain stains. Now get an old toothbrush and gentle massage the stain. The longer you do this the better, but 15-minutes should be enough. Now rinse it. If the stain has gone, shout “WOOHOO,” and if it hasn’t, just repeat the process again.
- Wet the stain with alcohol, strong alcohol, like vodka or something, using a sponge or a cotton bud to generously dab at the stain. The alcohol in vodka alcohol (okay, and rubbing alcohol) is a solvent that’s strong enough to dislodge the colour from stains, including the green pigment in grass. Once you’ve done this, leave the stain to completely air dry before rinsing with cool water (and it must be cool water). Then massage in a small amount of detergent for five or so minutes, before leaving to air dry again. If the stain has gone, you’re now free to wash your clothing as normal. If not, repeat the process.
- If you’ve got a particularly Sagittarian grass stain (you know, stubborn), try creating a homemade stain remover by mixing a ¼ cup bleach, a ¼ cup peroxide and a ¾ cups cold water into a container. Voila, you’ve created The Incredible Hulk of stain removers. Now arm yourself with The Incredible Hulk and wet the stained area, allowing it to saturate the stain. Next up, gently massage it in for four or five minutes, before putting your item somewhere safe to sit for an hour or so. Once you’ve done this, give it a thorough rinse before checking to see if the stain has gone. If it has, you can launer it as normal. If it hasn’t… ah, you know what to do.
Just remember, when you’re trying to remove a stain, always use cool water. Dry heat (or heat of any kind really) will just set the grass stain and make it even more annoying to remove.