How to Get Mud Stains Out of Clothing

How to Remove Mud Stains

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

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

There are a few rules to help you remove mud from clothing more successfully:

Don't start with hot water: While the mud is wet, rinse the clothing with cool water first to remove the visible mud.

Don't rub: If a splatter of mud lands on your clothes, avoid the temptation to wipe it away. Wiping pushes the mud deeper into the fabric. Lift it away with a spoon or the edge of a credit card.

Don't skimp on cleaning products: Tough stains require detergents and stain removers that contain enzymes to break the bond between the stain molecules and the fabric. Cheap detergents are mostly water and just won't remove the stains so read the product labels!

Stain type   Protein
Detergent type Heavy-duty laundry detergent or enzyme-based stain remover
Water temperature  Varies by type of fabric
Cycle type  Varies by type of fabric

Click Play to Learn How to Easily Remove Mud Stains From Clothing

What to Consider

If the garment is tagged as dry clean only, remove any mud solids from the surface of the fabric with a dull knife or the edge of a credit card. Allow the remaining mud to dry then brush away the soil with a soft-bristled 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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Dull knife, spoon, or old credit card
  • 1 Washing machine
  • 1 Clothes dryer, clothesline, or drying rack
  • 1 Garden hose
  • 1 Large sink or plastic tub
  • 1 Soft-bristled nylon brush


  • 1 bottle Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • 1 container Enzyme-based stain remover
  • 1 container Dry cleaning solvent
  • 1 package Home dry cleaning kit


How to Remove Mud Stains from Clothes

  1. Lift Mud With Dull Knife

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

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

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  2. Rinse off Mud Outdoors

    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.

  3. Soak in Cold Water

    If the mud-stained garment can not be washed right away, let it soak in cold water until washing time. If the mud has dried, scrape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak it in cold water. 


    Never use hot water to begin the cleaning process because it cooks the protein component in the mud into the fibers making the stain harder to remove.

  4. Pretreat and Wash with High-Performance Detergent

    When you're ready to wash, you'll have the best luck if you use a high-performance detergent like Tide or Persil. These detergents contain the necessary level of 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 liquid detergents or an enzyme-based stain remover to pretreat heavily stained areas (like knees or hems) by working a bit of the liquid into the stains using a soft bristle brush.
    • If you are using a powdered laundry detergent, make a paste with some water to pretreat the stains.
    • Allow the cleaner to work for fifteen minutes and then wash as usual.
    using a soft bristle brush and detergent to pretreat the stain

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  5. Retreat the Stain, if Necessary

    • After washing, check the stained area before tossing the clothes in an automatic dryer.
    • If there are still traces of soil or color from minerals in the soil (red mud), mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach 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 or colored—except for silk, wool, or 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 the stain right away, it is okay to allow the stained clothes to air-dry and treat them later.

Additional Tips for Removing Mud Stains

  • Lift away wet mud solids - never rub or wipe!
  • Rinse off heavy mud stains and presoak the clothes in a detergent/water solution before washing.
  • Allow mud stains on clothes labeled as dry-clean-only dry and then brush them away with a soft-bristled brush.