Tips to Prevent and Remove Grass Stains

Close up of grass
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Question: Tips to Prevent and Remove Grass Stains

From reader Cynta "I've got twin boys who always get grass stains on their clothes. I've tried soaking the clothes and using different stain removers, but they don't always work. What can I do to keep these stains from happening or get them out when they do?"

Answer: It never seemed to fail that my boys and girls could get grass stains on a new outfit within minutes of putting it on.

And anyone who has ever tried to remove a grass stain knows it can be tricky. The worst was when they would put the clothes in the laundry without me realizing there was a grass stain. A day or so later I would pull out the clothes only to realize it was something that needed to be treated right away. Dried grass stains are so much more difficult to remove than fresh grass stains. But there are a few ways you can prevent grass stains on your nicest clothes and a few tricks to try to get them out if they do manage to appear.

Why Are Grass Stains So Tricky?

Grass stains are a mixture of proteins, but mostly they are made of the chlorophyll from the plant. This chlorophyll is a dye stain. Dye stains are in many opinions the toughest stains to remove. To top it all off, a grass stain may also be accompanied by sweat stains, mud stains, juice stains, or all manner of other stain removal challenges.

Grass is very good at dyeing clothing; this is what makes it so tough to deal with.

Preventing Grass Stains

If you are hoping for some magic formula to prevent grass stains from happening, I am sorry to disappoint. The only real way to prevent them is to avoid them. For parents, this can be a challenge.

In my family, we designated play clothes that were stained or worn enough that I didn't care what happened to them. These were the clothes the kids were expected to wear when the went outside, to the park, or for general playing. Teaching children the difference between play clothes, school clothes, church clothes, etc. will help them make better choices about which clothes they should choose to wear. I labeled drawers for my kids when they were younger. Still, with my younger daughter, I frequently send her back upstairs to change into something more appropriate for playing. Some parents like to keep a change of play clothes with them just in case an opportunity to play comes along.

The only other way to prevent permanent grass stains is to treat them right away. A fresh grass stain has had less of a chance to dye the fabric, making it easier to remove. Start treating the stain as quickly as possible, and you'll have a better chance of removing it completely.

Remove Grass Stains

Okay, so prevention didn't work out so hot, and now you've got a big grass stain to deal with. What can you do? If the clothing is dry clean only, you'll need to take it to your favorite magician of a dry cleaner and point the stain out.

If the fabric is machine washable, there are a few things you can try. First, pretreat the stain with your favorite liquid laundry detergent. Many of the best liquid laundry detergents have enzymes that will begin to break down the proteins in the stain. Rinse the clothing completely and then soak the clothing in warm water and a capful of all-fabric bleach (NOT chlorine bleach). Let this soak for an hour. Rinse the clothing completely. Repeat until no stain remains.

As a last resort, you can try sponging the stained area with isopropyl alcohol. Be careful because this might remove the color of the clothing. Test it on a hem first before you use it where it would be easily seen. If the hidden area holds its color, you can sponge the alcohol onto the stained area and then blot it up with a clean white towel.

Continue until no more grass stain is being blotted up. Rinse the clothing completely. Wash normally. It's a good idea to let the clothing air dry the first time until you are sure the stain is gone. Dryer heat will further set the grass stain.