Keeping the baseball pants and uniforms of the boys and girls of summer looking great doesn’t need to be such a chore. It would be nice if all of the T-ball, softball, and baseball leagues had managers who whisked away the dirty uniforms and a nice, clean one magically appeared on game day. But since that is reserved for the chosen few, here are some tips for keeping baseball pants and shirts looking their best.
Most baseball uniforms are made from heavyweight polyester knit or mesh, as 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 set-in stains making them difficult to remove.
|How to Wash Baseball Uniforms|
|Detergent||Heavy-duty laundry detergent|
|Cycle Type||Permanent press|
|Drying Cycle Type||Low or air-dry|
|Special Treatments||Wash alone|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
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.
Work Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 12 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate
What You'll Need
- Heavy-duty detergent
- Baking soda
- Oxygen-based bleach for stain removal
- Washing machine
- Utility sink, basin or bucket
- Dryer, clothesline or drying rack
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 on the threads and expose their yellow core.
Instead, use oxygen 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.
After the game, rinse off the uniform with cool water in a utility sink or basin 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.
Presoaking is essential in getting a baseball uniform clean. Fill the sink or a bucket with warm water. Add two tablespoons of a heavy-duty laundry detergent that contains enough of the enzymes and surfactants needed to lift away stains (Tide or Persil are leading brands). You can also add one 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.
After soaking, fill the washer with warm water, add a heavy-duty detergent, and set the dial to the permanent press cycle. Do not 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.
Hang the uniform to air-dry on a clothesline or drying rack or lay 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 in stains, and fades colors.
Treat Tough Stains
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 the 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.
- Cleaning baseball caps is in a different league. Follow specific cleaning techniques for daily wear and collectible baseball caps.
- 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 "slicker" so that dirt particulates will slide out easier in the wash.
- If you have hard water, you should add a water conditioner (an additive that helps detergent work better) during the presoak and washing steps.
- While uniforms need cooler temperatures, it is important to always wash underwear and socks in hot water to kill bacteria and the fungus of athlete's foot.
If your baseball uniform rips, it can be challenging to repair depending on the size and location of the tear. For a small hole, it can often be hand-stitched along the edges from the inside of the garment. If the rip is large and in more than one direction, 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 the season excitement, 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.