Grass Stains: Among the Toughest & Most Stubborn Stains Parents Face

Grass stains… they’re one of the toughest and most stubborn stains that face parents, especially parents of athletes or outdoors-loving active children.

That’s because grass stains are usually combination stains, where a combination of dirt, debris, plant material, and natural compounds from the grass all combine to create one super stubborn stain.

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.

We have curated and hunted down the best resources, methods, & products for getting rid of grass stains.

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.

Enjoy!

Soccer players get grass stain on their uniforms.

Household Methods for Getting Grass Stains Out

There are several “home remedies” for grass stain removal that actually work. A lot of what you encounter is fluff, but a few methods have merit. The key here is how deep the stain is and how old the stain is. For a fresh, shallow grass stain, these home methods will likely do the job.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do

  • Dab the stain using a clean, white cloth
  • Hang clothes to dry once they are clean
  • Use cool water (about 30°C)

Don’t

  • Rub the stain (which will cause it to spread)
  • Put the clothes in the dryer
  • Rush the process

Stain Pretreatment

When it comes to grass stains, time is of the essence. Don’t drive like a lunatic on your way home from the field (lol), but as soon as you get home, toss the clothing/uniform into a pretreatment.

  • Fill a sink or tub with cool water (room temperature)
  • Using a powdered detergent, make a “paste” a dab the stain with it; completely penetrate the stain
  • Leave the clothing in the water for 30-60 minutes (60 minutes for deeply set-in stains)

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.

Hot vs Cold Water

Use room temperature water when pretreating and cleaning grass stains. Hot water may set the stain into the fabric, which can then be permanent. Using cool, room temperature water ensures you get the most from your detergent without risking inadvertently setting in the stain.

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 warm 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. Be sure to test this mixture on a place that will not show because it definitely can remove dyes as well as stains. 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.

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.

Grass stained knees are a common problem.

Using Commercial Products to Remove Grass Stains

For when at-home methods just aren’t working, you can turn to methods that use commercial detergents and cleaners to tackle grass stains. Follow the product instructions exactly, and make sure you read and understand the care instructions on the clothing/uniforms tag.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do

  • Test a small non-visible area on the fabric and make sure it doesn’t get discolored
  • Use cool/room temperature water (it dissolves detergents and breaks down enzymes/etc. faster than cold water)
  • Read the washing label on the item
  • Use a clean, white towel for dabbing the stain

Don’t

  • Mix stained clothing with other laundry
  • Rub grass stains (which will cause them to spread)
  • Mix clothing/uniforms that have been treated with a cleaning product with any other laundry

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.

OxiClean

OxiClean uses sodium carbon peroxide, which is the result of combining sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. It is effective on most stains, including grass stains. Using the powdered version of OxiClean (OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover):

  • Fill the scoop to line 4 and add one scoop per 1 gallon of water.
  • Soak the item for 1-6 hours. The bigger and tougher the stain, the longer it soaks for.
  • Wash with normal detergent and OxiClean

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.