How to Clean and Care for Baseball Uniforms

Blue and gray baseball uniform next to cleaning ingredients and laundry detergent

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 3 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

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, it's likely you'll be faced with washing baseball jerseys and pants at home.

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 the fabric to shrink, names and numbers to peel off, and stains to set in, making them difficult to remove.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • Utility sink, basin, or bucket
  • Dryer, clothesline, or drying rack

Materials

  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Oxygen bleach to whiten
  • Baking soda (optional)

Instructions

Materials and tools to clean baseball uniforms

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

How to Wash Baseball Uniforms
Detergent Heavy-duty
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Permanent press
Drying Cycle Type Low or air-dry
Special Treatments Wash alone
Iron Settings Do not iron
How Often to Wash Whenever visibly dirty

How to Wash Baseball Uniforms

  1. 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.

    Blue and white baseball uniform being rinsed under sink faucet to release loose dirt

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  2. 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 of 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.

    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.

    Blue and gray baseball uniform presoaking in water and heavy-duty laundry detergent

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. Wash

    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.

    Washing machine's water temperature button being pressed for washing

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  4. Air-Dry

    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 it while still slightly damp. Never put a sports uniform in a hot clothes dryer. High heat causes shrinking, sets stains, and fades colors.

    Blue and gray baseball uniform air drying on drying rack

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

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.

Baseball Uniform Care and Repair

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.

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.

How Often to Wash 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.

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.
FAQ
  • What do professional teams use to clean their uniforms?

    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.

  • How can I wash a baseball cap?

    Caps are best cleaned by hand washing. Fill a sink with cold water and add a few drops of laundry detergent, then agitate the hat in the solution for several minutes. Rinse in cool clear water, then air-dry the cap.

  • Can I iron a baseball uniform?

    If properly washed and dried, most baseball uniforms will be wrinkle-free if removed promptly from the dryer. If, for some reason, your uniform needs to be extra crisp (for team photos, perhaps), make sure to use a very low temperature setting and protect the polyester fabric by ironing through a thin cloth. Be very careful, as these fabrics can be melted by a hot iron.

  • How do I iron on a Little League patch?

    The official instructions for ironing a patch onto a Little League uniform is to place the patch on the desired location, then place a cloth or light towel over the patch. With the iron set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, iron the face of the patch with slow circular motions, pressing firmly for 30 seconds. Then, turn the clothing inside out and iron the back of the patch for 30 additional seconds.