3 Ways to Get Grass Stains Out of Clothes


Grass stained knees are a common problem.

Grass stains… they’re one of the toughest and most stubborn stains that face parents, especially parents of athletes or outdoors-loving active children. The natural compounds in the grass, chlorophyll, xanthophylls, and carotenoids, are most likely to bind (or “set”) on natural fibers common in summer clothing and sports uniforms, like cotton. These chemicals contain natural dyes that have an affinity for natural fibers, making the stain one of the most stubborn ones around.

But good news! There are lots of ways to tackle this challenging laundry problem. Your kids (or any other family members) do NOT have to spend the summer wearing evidence of contact with the ground on their knees, pant legs, elbows, or anywhere else for that matter. Here are a few proven solutions for you to check out.

Soccer players get grass stain on their uniforms.

General Hints

Act, Don’t Yak!

Grass stains are stubborn, no matter when you tackle them, but sooner is a whole lot better than later. When the stains have time to sit on the fibers of the fabric, they become more and more permanent. You’ll want to take action just as soon as you notice the stains to make it easier to address the problem.

Pretreat the Stain

Enzymes are chemicals that break up other chemicals (you likely first heard this from your high school chemistry teacher, remember?). Successful clean-up of grass stains is all but guaranteed if you find an enzyme to treat the stain before you pop the garment into the laundry. There are several strategies to try, including digestive enzyme capsules (break them and make a paste from water and the powder inside, then rub on the stain).

You can also try a mixture of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide, but be sure to test a bit of your mixture on part of the fabric that won’t show. It could remove some types of dye. You can also try your favorite commercial laundry pre-treatments and stain removal products.

Avoid the Clothes Dryer

One big mistake is to put the grass-stained clothing into the dryer! Heat will set the stain so that almost nothing will get it out. Be sure that you are completely done removing the stain before you put the garment into the clothes dryer!

Commercial Products

Shout Gel or Liquid

This product is mentioned on a number of stain-removal sites and has worked well within this author’s experience.

  • Apply the liquid or gel to the stain directly (full strength) on dry fabric.
  • Allow the garment to sit for at least five minutes with the product on the stain.
  • Wash in as warm of water as the fabric will safely allow.
  • Check the stained area, and repeat the above steps if needed until the stain is gone.
  • Only dry the garment once the stain is completely removed.

Goo Gone Spray

Goo Gone is a household gem and will help you manage a number of stubborn stains, including grass stain.

  • Spray the product on the stain.
  • Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Wash the garment as usual.
  • Inspect the stain. If needed, repeat the steps above.
  • Dry the garment in the dryer once the stain has been removed.

Tide Powder or Liquid Detergent

Tide is a laundry go-to for many types of stains, and grass stain is no exception.

  • If using the powder, make a paste by adding a bit of water.
  • Rub the detergent directly on the stain.
  • Allow fabric to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Wash the item as per the usual instructions.
  • Inspect the stained area while the fabric is still wet. Repeat if needed.
  • Dry the item according to the instructions once the stain is completely removed.

Grass stained knees are a common problem.

Household Solutions

Sometimes families want to minimize the commercial cleaning chemicals in their household. Sometimes a family member has allergies, or perhaps the budget dictates less expensive solutions. In any case, there are alternatives to the commercial products that may well be as effective for you.

Plain White Vinegar

Give this solution a try if you want a gentle cleaning. Be sure to use only the plain white variety of vinegar – fruit vinegar will not be effective.

  • Rub the stain vigorously with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Keep rubbing until the stain is gone.
  • Wash the garment as you usually would.
  • Inspect the stained area before putting into the dryer. Remember that the heat of the dryer will set any stain that is left.

Banana Oil

Banana Oil, or amyl acetate, tends to work well on the chlorophyll that makes grass stains so stubborn. You can find this product in larger drug stores.

  • Rub the oil directly on the stain gently. Let stand for five minutes and then rinse with hot water.
  • If this does not complete the job, mix 1 cup of warm water, 2 tablespoons of a mild detergent, and 2 tablespoons of ammonia.
  • Rub the stain gently, then rinse.
  • Wash the garment and be sure to inspect to see that the stain is completely removed before using a clothes dryer.

Bleach with Hydrogen Peroxide

If the stained garment is white, this might be the perfect answer for a stubborn grass stain. However, be sure to test this mixture on a place that will not show because it definitely can remove dyes as well as stains. And if the garment will be ruined if you can’t remove the stain anyway, then it might be worth a try.

  • Mix ¼ cup of bleach, ¼ cup of peroxide, and ¾ cup of water.
  • Cover the stain with the mixture and rub gently.
  • Allow it to stand for 30-60 minutes.
  • Rinse the garment thoroughly.
  • Wash separately – remember that this mixture will remove many types of dye, so you do NOT want to risk getting it on any colored clothing.