Cleaning Sports Clothes | Anyclean

updated: 16/11/2023

I’ve got one in my household. If you’re reading this, you probably have one, too. My son is a sports enthusiast and quite regularly comes home with his sports uniforms covered in mud stains and grass stains. He hasn’t come home with any bloodstains yet, but as he is quite an aggressive rugby player, this is bound to happen one day. And it’s not just his rugby gear that comes home filthy – he manages to get his cricket gear grubby as well.

I’m probably not the only mother (or partner – husbands/lovers come home grubby after sports as well) who has to deal with this. If you have the luxury of being able to use a drop-off and pick-up laundry service, you may not have to deal with this very often. But sometimes, these services just aren’t available, or you need the sports gear two days running and you don’t have spares. In this case, you will have to get rid of the stains yourself.

First of all, check for the type of stains that you are dealing with. If you have bloodstains, then you must not use hot water on the garment or else you will set the stain permanently. In this case, soak in cold or lukewarm water with a good dollop of washing powder. If, however, you do not have to deal with bloodstains, then you can soak the garment in hot water and washing powder. A biological powder is the most effective, but normal washing powder will work just as well. Whether you use hot or cold water, you will need to agitate (stir) the garments while they are soaking. Soak garments for at least an hour.

If you are dealing with white sports clothes (cricket uniforms or white rugby shorts), then you can use commercial cleaning product like bleach to deal with any stains. Chlorine bleach deals with grass stains quite effectively with no need for further treatment. However, do not use chlorine bleach on a uniform that has a coloured trim or stripes along with the white. Darker colours are much more forgiving, while paler ones (yellow, pale blue) are the worst, as they show all stains but cannot be bleached.

After an hour or so of soaking (overnight is best, but if you have to get the uniform washed and dried by the next day, this is not always possible), squeeze the excess water out and inspect the clothing. Some types of material, particularly cottons, are quite susceptible to grass stains, and these will need further treatment (synthetics, however, do not seem to “take” the stains as readily; my husband’s old synthetic cricket trousers were able to be washed in a normal cold cycle to remove grass “stains”). A proprietary stain remover should be used to spot-treat the stained area, or else methylated spirits. Whatever you use to spot-treat the grass stain, leave it to work for a few minutes before putting the clothes into the washing machine and washing on a heavy-duty cycle.

Dry the clothes as normal. In fact, I have noticed that sometimes, sunshine can give a final “bleach” to grass stains. If you have the misfortune to have no tumble drier and less-than-ideal drying conditions, but still need the uniform by the next morning, drying in front of a radiator or log fire or (as a last resort)with an iron is your best option. Synthetics, once again, dry more easily than cottons.

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About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.