How to Remove Mud Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

How to Remove Mud Stains

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Mud is just wet dirt but when it lands on fabric it is so much harder to remove. Just that bit of water that turns dirt to mud helps to push the soil deeper into clothing's fibers. And, because soil is made of up of decomposed organic matter, mud must be treated initially like blood or any protein stain. 


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Mud Stains on Washable Clothes

If the mud splatters are small, the first step is to remove any solid matter with a dull knife or edge of a spoon. Don't rub because that only pushes the soil deeper into the fibers. As soon as possible, hold the stained areas under a faucet running cold water. Hold the fabric with the wrong side of the stain directly under the faucet to force the mud out of the fibers.

If there is a great deal of mud on the clothing, like a football uniform, take the item outside and use a hose to rinse off the mud. If you can't head outside, fill a deep sink or plastic tub with cold water and rinse off the mud.

If the mud-stained garment can not be washed right away, leave it to soak in cold water until washing time. If the mud has dried scrape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water. Never use hot water to begin the cleaning process because it cooks the protein component in the mid into the fibers making the stain harder to remove.

When you're ready to wash the dirty clothes, you'll have the best luck if you use a high-performance detergent like Tide or Persil. These detergents contain the level of necessary enzymes to break apart the soil and the surfactants to keep the soil suspended in the wash water until it can be flushed away. You can use the liquid detergents to pretreat heavily stained areas (like knees or hems) by working a bit of the liquid into the stains using a soft bristle brush. Allow the cleaner to work for fifteen minutes and then wash in warm water as usual.

Check the stained area. If there are still traces of soil or color from minerals in the soil (red mud), mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and tepid water. Submerge the entire garment. Allow it to soak for at least four hours or overnight and then launder again. This is safe to use for all washable fabrics - white and colored - except for silk, wool and anything trimmed with leather.

Never place a mud-stained garment in a hot dryer. The high heat will make the stain even more difficult to remove. If you can't retreat right away, it is okay to allow the stained clothes to air dry. Just don't toss in the dryer at high heat.

using a soft bristle brush and detergent to pretreat the stain

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Dry Clean Only Clothes and Mud Stains

If the garment is tagged as dry clean only, remove any solids from the surface of the fabric with a dull knife or edge of a credit card. Allow the mud to dry then brush away the soil with a soft-bristle brush. If the mud stains are small, you can then use a bit of dry cleaning solvent to treat the stains. Follow the package directions carefully.

If the stains are large, it's best to head to a dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

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

using a dull knife to scrape solids from a dry clean only garment

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Mud Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

When mud gets tracked onto the carpet, immediately remove any solids to prevent them from being tracked deeper into the fibers. Then, allow the mud to dry. Vacuum to remove as much of the dried soil as possible.

Next, mix a cleaning solution of two teaspoons of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and two cups of cool water. Use a white cloth, sponge, or soft bristle brush to work the solution into the mud-stained areas. Blot away the soil with a paper towel as it is lifted. Rinse the area with plain water to remove any soapy residue which can actually attract more soil.

If the mud is red and has left discoloration, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water following package directions. Saturate the stained area and allow the solution to work for at least an hour and then blot away.

Allow the area to dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

The same cleaning solution and steps recommended for the carpet to clean mud from upholstery. Take care not to over-wet the fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can cause mold problems.

If the upholstery is vintage or silk, consult a professional upholstery cleaner if you need more stain removal tips

using a soapy solution to scrub mud stains off of carpet

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska