Keeping baseball uniforms looking great doesn’t need to be a headache. It would be nice if all the T-ball, softball, and baseball leagues had managers who whisked away the dirty uniforms and made nice clean ones magically appear on game day. But, since that's simply a fantasy, here are some tips for keeping baseball pants and shirts looking their best.
Most baseball uniforms are made from heavyweight polyester knit or mesh because these durable fabrics stretch for ease of movement. Polyester fabric should be washed in cold or warm water and either air-dried or tumble-dried on low heat. Excessively high heat can cause shrinkage of the fabric; peeling of numbers and names; and the setting of stains, which makes them difficult to remove.
How Often to Clean Baseball Uniforms
Clean a baseball uniform whenever it's dirty, which is usually after every game. Always wash it before storing away after the season. It's ideal to set aside a day or more for uniform washing to allow for air-drying. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to prepare the clothes before the next practice or game day.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Utility sink, basin, or bucket
- Dryer, clothesline, or drying rack
- Heavy-duty detergent
- Oxygen bleach to whiten
- Baking soda (optional)
|How to Wash Baseball Uniforms|
|Cycle Type||Permanent press|
|Drying Cycle Type||Low or air-dry|
|Special Treatments||Wash alone|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
Rinse the Uniform
After the game, rinse off the uniform with cool water in a utility sink, basin, or bucket to remove as much loose dirt and mud as possible. You can also hang the uniform pieces over a clothesline and spray them down with a hose.
Presoak to Lift Dirt
Presoaking is essential to getting a baseball uniform clean. Fill the sink or a bucket with warm water. Add 2 tablespoons heavy-duty laundry detergent that contains enough enzymes and surfactants needed to lift away stains (Tide and Persil are leading brands). You can also add 1 cup baking soda to help with odor reduction. Allow the uniform to soak for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Longer soaking produces better stain-removal results.
After soaking, fill the washer with warm water, add a heavy-duty detergent, and set the dial to the permanent press cycle. Don't use hot water. Even if the uniform is white and you're not concerned about fading, hot water can cause the lettering and numbers to fade and crack.
It may be tempting to use chlorine bleach on white uniforms, but it's not an effective whitener for polyester fabrics and can even damage the material. Chlorine bleach can strip away the outer coating of the threads and expose their yellow core.
Instead, use oxygen bleach or all-fabric bleach (like OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) to whiten. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and warm water, following package directions to create enough solution to submerge the uniform completely. Allow it to soak for at least four hours, and then wash as usual.
Hang the uniform to air-dry on a clothesline or drying rack; or lay it flat on a clean surface or towel away from direct sunlight. If you must dry a uniform quickly, tumble on low heat, and remove while still slightly damp. Never put a sports uniform in a hot clothes dryer. High heat causes shrinking, sets stains, and fades colors.
Storing Baseball Uniforms
Even with the end-of-season excitement and rush, never store a dirty uniform. Stains will set, and bacteria will form, ruining the uniform for the next season. Baseball uniforms can be hung or folded during storage.
It can be challenging to repair a ripped baseball uniform. A small hole can often be hand-stitched along the edges from the inside of the garment. If the rip is large and ragged, you probably need a tailor to do the repair, or it's time to replace the item.
Treating Stains on Baseball Uniforms
While presoaking will usually take care of most stains, inspect the uniform before you put it into the washer, and address any remaining stains following guidelines for specific stains. If there are tough red-mud stains, add a scoop of oxygen bleach or borax to the laundry load to boost cleaning power. These products are safe to use in HE washers.
Tips for Washing Baseball Uniforms
- Always wash baseball uniforms alone—the lint from other clothing may cling to the letters and numbers.
- Adding fabric softener to the final rinse cycle will help make the fibers more resistant to red mud and grass stains. The fabric softener coats the fibers and makes them slick so that dirt particulates will slide out easier in the wash.
- If you have hard water, add a water conditioner (an additive that helps detergent work better) during the presoak and washing steps.
- While uniforms need cooler temperatures, it's important to always wash underwear and socks in hot water to kill bacteria and the fungus of athlete's foot.
- If you want to clean baseball uniforms with the same detergent used by the professionals, try tracking down Slide Out, a two-part solution developed for Major League Baseball for the removal of red clay stains on uniforms.