Whether they’re from puddle splashes, working in the garden or sliding into first base, mud stains never make an outfit better. And, what’s more, not all mud stains are created equal. Believe it or not, dark mud needs to be treated differently from red mud stains.

Here’s the good news: mud — whatever the color— is not that hard to remove. In fact, one product that will help you cut through mud easily is dish washing detergent! But there’s more to it. We asked Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, and Dean Carter, owner of Carter’s Carpet Restoration, to show us how it’s done.


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How to remove dark mud from clothing

This might surprise you, but the first thing you should do is let the mud dry. The reason? Wiping or wetting mud before it dries thoroughly will force it deeper into the fabric. Here’s what to do next:

  • Using a dull knife, scrape away dried mud.
  • Rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Using a wet a toothbrush and a few drops of water, scrub the detergent into the stain, scrubbing both sides of the fabric.
  • Machine wash as usual, but wash apart from any other clothes.
  • Repeat until all mud is gone.
  • Air dry to make sure no trace of the stain remains.

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What to do when red mud stains your clothes

  • First, let the mud dry.
  • Remove as much mud as possible with a dull knife.
  • Apply liquid dish soap to the stained area and let it sit overnight.
  • Using a wet a toothbrush and a few drops of water, work the detergent into the stain. Make sure to scrub both sides of the fabric.
  • Machine wash as usual, but launder separately from any other clothes.
  • If any stain remains, apply a color-safe bleach directly on the fabric or flush with rubbing alcohol, then machine wash again.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • Air dry to make sure no trace of the stain remains.

RELATED: How to remove color stains from your white clothes

How to remove dark mud from upholstery

Note: Silk, antique or vintage upholstery should be professionally cleaned. For a DIY solution, try this:

  • First, let the mud dry.
  • Vacuum up as much as possible.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of cool water.
  • Sponge the stain with the solution using a clean white cloth.
  • Blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat as needed to remove stain.
  • Remove detergent residue by sponging the area with cool water using a clean white cloth.
  • Allow to dry.

How to remove red mud from upholstery

  • Let the mud dry and vacuum up as much as possible.
  • Spray the stained area with warm water, and blot with a clean white cloth to absorb as much of the stain as possible.
  • Repeat until the stain is gone, changing cloths as needed.
  • If the stain persists, spray and blot using a mixture of 2 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of clear, bleach-free laundry detergent.
  • Spray again with plain, warm water and blot until suds are removed.
  • To remove any remaining detergent, spray with a mixture of equal parts warm water and distilled white vinegar.
  • Blot to dry.

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How to remove mud from your rug or carpet

Note: Silk or wool carpets should be professionally cleaned. For all others, try these tips:

  • Carter suggests that you always allow mud to dry completely before trying to remove it from carpet.
  • Once it’s dry, scrape the mud off the carpet, then vacuum.
  • Clean the remaining stain with a steam cleaner or dab the stain with a cloth moistened with water and a drop of Dawn dish washing detergent.
  • Once the stain is gone, rinse detergent from the carpet by alternately dabbing the area with a damp cloth and a clean towel.
  • Blot dry.

How to Remove Mud Stains from Clothes

Image by Peasap

It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring – kids love to be outside. Rainy days jumping in muddy puddles at the park can create some happy and long lasting memories for all the family, but the dirty clothes at the end of the day can be a nightmare! If you’re faced with socks, jeans, shorts, or school uniforms that are soggy and muddy, don’t panic! Here’s everything you need to know to get those clothes looking clean and fresh:

Mud Stain Removal Made Easy

If you’ve been chatting to other Mums and Dads at your child’s school, you may have heard that mud stains are difficult to get out of school uniforms, but removing mud stains from clothes – even white shirts – can be quick and easy once you know how. Just remember to always check the care labels on your garment before attempting stain removal.

The problem with mud stains is that to tackle them effectively we need to forget everything we thought we knew about doing the laundry. We’re always told to clean stains as soon as they happen for best results, but when it comes to mud, there’s no rush (which is good news for busy parents!). In fact, mud stains are actually much easier to treat when they’ve been allowed to dry, as wet mud can spread quickly.

No matter what type of clothing you’re dealing with – school shirts, muddy trouser knees, and so on – the first step towards removing mud stains should be to let the stain dry and then get rid of as much of the dirt as possible before washing. You can do this by using a spoon to lift away any big areas of soil, and a soft bristle scrubbing brush or an old, clean toothbrush to wipe away the excess. The next step will depend upon the type of material so here’s a handy guide to help you out:

  • How to Remove Mud Stains from White Clothing

Brown muddy stains can really stand out on a brilliant white school shirt, which is why it’s important to tackle that stain head on. Persil small & mighty Bio really packs a punch, and can be used as both a pre-treatment and as a laundry detergent – ideal for helping to get rid of those unsightly soil marks.

Use the Persil small & mighty Stain Eraser Ball to apply detergent directly to the stain, and gently massage the detergent into the fabric with the base of the ball – this will help it penetrate deep down into the fibres and really get to work. Allow the detergent to soak in and do its job, wash as normal following the instructions on the care label, and then dry outdoors in the sunlight for a touch of natural bleaching.

  • How to Get Mud Stains Out of Coloured Clothing

Coloured clothing can be treated in a similar way to white clothing – with a pre-treatment that loosens the stain and helps lift the soil particles away from the fibres, and then with a cycle in the washing machine to remove any stubborn patches.

And, the good news is that if your kids have managed to pick up some grass stains as well while getting muddy, Persil small & mighty (the colour variant is perfect for keeping colours bright!) is a great choice as it can claim brilliant stain removal for grass stains in a 40 degree wash; so all you need to do is pre-treat the stains, and pop the clothes in the washing machine. Remember to check for any lingering spots before drying in the tumble dryer or on the line.

  • Removing Mud Stains from Delicate Clothing

If you’re dealing with delicates, such as warm, woolly school jumpers, it’s best to take things gently. When you’re scraping away the dried mud, try not to dig into the fabric with the spoon, and use the spoon in an up-and-down motion rather than pulling across the fibres.

Apply a touch of methylated spirits (you can buy this at the chemist) to the stain, which can help break down the soil particles (be sure to test on an inconspicuous area first, and keep your work area well ventilated by opening the windows). Rinse and wash with Persil Non-Bio, which is great for cleaning your clothes, yet soft and gentle on your delicates.

The next time the kids want to don their wellies and head outside into the pouring rain, say ‘Yes!’. Armed with your Persil detergent and a few clever insider secrets, you’ve got everything you need to get your kids clothes looking clean and fresh, no matter how dirty they get!

For more useful advice on removing tough stains, check out our Washing Tips & Tricks section!

We’ve all been there — a slip in the yard, a spill as we sip, a drip from that pocketed ink pen — and now, your favorite shirt is stained. You’ve Tide-To-Go’d it to death but that pesky stain remains. Don’t panic (or head online to replace it) just yet. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to remove that stain and save your clothes (and your wallet).

Luckily, all stains have a few things in common and the sooner you learn about them, the better you become at removing them. First, the earlier you start to treat any stain the better. Second, always remove as much of it as you can by removing any excess and blotting (never rubbing) the area with clean water (an ice cube works in a pinch) or running it under cool water. Try carrying a stain sick or wipe in your purse or car so you always have a way to immediately pretreat it if you can’t get to work on removal immediately. Lastly, remember that you should never put the garment in the dryer until you’re sure it’s out. The heat of the dryer could cause the stain to set and become permanent.

Now, let’s dive into how to remove the different types of stains.

1. Dye stains

Image: somemeans/.

Dye stains that result from washing dyed clothes with other colors (usually whites) can be challenging because dye is precisely how we get color into fabric in the first place. To remove them, soak the affected clothing in the washing machine in cool water mixed according to package directions with oxygenized non-chlorine bleach (e.g., OxiClean) for eight hours. Repeat as many times as needed, then when the stain is gone, wash and dry as usual.

2. Bodily fluids & other organic protein stains

Sweat, vomit, and all of those other fun bodily fluids are going to require the use of enzymatic detergent (which breaks down proteins) and oxygenated non-chlorine bleach. Wash it on the hottest setting recommended for the fabric. Sometimes, even once the stain is gone, a less-than-desirable scent will remain. If that’s the case, wash it again in a detergent specifically designed to fight (not just mask) odors. This method works on most organic protein stains (human or otherwise) with the exceptions of blood, dairy (including breast milk) and egg.

3. Dairy (including breast milk) & egg stains

New mom problems: putting on a new shirt to go grocery shopping, then proceeding to breastfeed “just to be safe”, thereby getting a huge breastmilk stain on the shirt. pic.twitter.com/Gms6I11C7Q

— Dr. Sarah Pohl (@LilithElina) July 5, 2018

Dairy stains are a type of organic protein stain, but you remove them differently because warm or hot water applied before the stain is gone could effectively cook the proteins, causing the stain to discolor, according to Persil. If the stain has dried, you’ll first need to gently scrape or brush off anything that’s crusted on the garment. Then soak it for five to 30 minutes (depending on how old the stain is) in cool water with an enzyme presoak, repeating with fresh water if necessary. If the stain has already discolored, try washing it with a bleach product safe for the color of the fabric. This method is effective on egg and breast milk stains as well.

4. Blood stains

Yes, blood stains are a type of organic protein stain, but they can be particularly challenging to remove so they deserve their own section. Got blood on a delicate item? Take it straight to the dry cleaner. Any DIY treatments will probably harm the clothing. Soak other garments in cold water, rubbing the stain gently with your fingers to remove as much blood as possible. If the water begins to turn pink, replace it and keep going until the water stops turning pink. Rinse the garment well, blot the stain, and apply an enzymatic stain remover (one with extra stain-fighting power if possible), allowing it to sit before washing. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide (rinse it out thoroughly), but this may discolor some fabrics, so try it on an inconspicuous spot first.

5. Fruit & fruit juice stains

Image: kovtynfoto/.

Dilute the stain with cold running water and apply an enzymatic laundry detergent directly to the stain, making sure you completely cover the stain, and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Without rinsing off the detergent, wash the garment on the cycle indicated on the label at the hottest temperature appropriate for the fabric.

6. Red wine stains

Cover the stain in salt, which will absorb the color (the salt will begin to turn pink), then soak it in cold water with an enzymatic laundry detergent overnight. Repeat the soak with new water if necessary, then wash as usual.

Next up: Removing more types of stains

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Removing Dirt and Mud from Clothing

In a perfect world, we’d be able to dash down to the local department store to buy new clothes for our kids each time they ruined their clothing from playing outside. In reality, we know how expensive it is to replace clothes, so we wash and mend them until they’re beyond repair, or until we outgrow them. Because of its dark color and ability to cling to fabrics, one of the most difficult materials to remove from clothing is dirt – especially wet and muddy dirt. And, as if removing the dirt isn’t enough, mud can leave behind a stain to remind you of how it got there in the first place.

So, how do you remove dirt and mud from clothing? Follow these guidelines to have your clothes dirt- and mud-free in no time:

  • Read the washing instructions on the label of the garment to determine if it is washable. No matter the recommended water temperature, however, always wash dirt-encrusted washable fabrics in cold water. Hot water will only set a stain.
  • Allow the fabric to completely dry before washing. If you try to remove mud or dirt from wet fabric, you will only enable to stain to spread into other parts of the fabric.
  • Once the garment is completely dry, remove all loose dirt by stepping outside and shaking the garment vigorously. Peel away caked-on dirt with your fingers or a plastic knife.
  • If you’re working with a sturdy fabric, such as denim, you can use a stiff brush or a toothbrush to brush away more dried dirt. If the garment is delicate, do not brush it, as you may damage the fabric.
  • Once you’ve removed all of the caked-on dirt, place the washable garment on a flat surface and spray or apply a stain remover, such as Shout. Read and follow the directions on the package. The pre-treatment will allow the dirt to loosen from the fabric.
  • If you’ve a soak cycle on your washing machine, use it to soak the garment, allowing the stain removing agent to work into the fabric.
  • Remove the garment from the washing machine and check for stains. If you see stains, treat the fabric again with the stain remover, and let it run through the soak cycle again.

Once you’re satisfied that the mud and dirt are gone from the fabric, wash the garment in a regular wash cycle, using cold water. Remove the garment from the washer and check for stains. If they are gone, it is safe to dry the garment. If you cannot remove the stains, check with your local dry cleaner for solutions.

Step 1 – Be patient

With most stains, you are encouraged to tackle it as soon as possible to prevent it setting into the fibres of the fabric.

However, when it comes to dealing with mud stains, you want to do the opposite and wait. Dry mud is simpler to remove than wet mud, which can smear easily.

Do not be tempted to dry your clothes in a dryer, or on a heat source such as a radiator. Excessive heat may further set the stain and make it even more difficult to remove.

Step 2 – Scrape off the excess mud

Once dry, gently scrape off the excess mud. The majority of the mud should easily crumble off the fabric.

If easier, use a vacuum to pull the mud from the material. Take care not to scrap too vigorously as you don’t want to push the mud further into the fabric, or damage the garment.

Step 3 – Soak with detergent

Apply enough liquid detergent on the stain to allow it to soak the fabric thoroughly. After five minutes, rub the fabric to help the detergent penetrate the stain further. Repeat twice more.

Step 4 – Use stain remover (if required)

If the mud stain is persistent, apply a stain removal treatment to the stain.

Allow the treatment to work for at least five minutes.

Step 5 – Rinse stain

Rinse the stain with cold water. If the stain persists, repeat steps 3 and 4.

Step 6 – Wash garment

Using a bio laundry detergent, wash the garment in a warm (not hot) wash.

Step 7 – Dry garment

Dry the garment outside. The sun naturally lightens clothes and will help reduce the stain.

If, after all of these steps, the stain is still present you can repeat the steps again.

How to Get Mud & Clay Out of Clothes

Kids love to play with mud and clay and get messy, while moms dread the stains that are left behind for them to battle with. Fortunately, with the tips that follow, and your trusted Surf excel, you will be able to handle all mud and clay stains easily.

How to remove clay and mud stains

Perhaps you remember studying about different kinds of soil in school. Some soils are loose, more sandy and rough. Others are dense and sticky. To work out how to get mud out of clothes, you need to examine what kind of soil it is made from. Broadly speaking, black and red soil marks and clay stains are trickier to treat than stains made by lighter, coarser soils. However, keeping a few things in mind will make you an expert in dealing with stains of both kinds.

How to get mud out of clothes

Instinctively, we try to get stains out as soon as we notice them. In most cases, this is sound strategy, and the earlier a stain is washed away, the better the chances of success. However, in the case of mud stains, this will not work too well. As mud is a combination of water and dirt, adding more water will only make the mud stain spread some more.

It is recommended that you let the mud dry, and then gently scrape it away, using a brush or a blunt item like the edge of a spoon. This will ensure that you do not create a bigger stain when you finally get to wash the fabric.

How to get clay out of clothes

After scraping away the dried earth from fabric, you should ideally leave the fabric overnight in a mixture of water and laundry detergent like Surf excel. This will loosen the fine particles that make up the stain and it will come off easily. Wash the clothes as you usually do, the next day, and the stain should disappear. In case the clothes are too delicate to leave soaking in detergent overnight, it is a better idea to take them to the dry-cleaner straight away.

For old mud stains

If it so happens that you notice an old stain on some garment, or discover a stain only after you have ironed your laundry, stain removalcan be a bit tough. This is because the stain has set in by now and is not easy to loosen from the fabric. In such a scenario, soaking the item is the right thing to do.

You should also take care not to heat the mark in the washing machine dryer or with an iron. Iron the item only when you are sure the soaking treatment has worked and the unseemly spot is gone. For best wash results, use Surf excel’s Dip Dab Drop formula to take care of stains.

How to remove clay stains

Clay is used in a variety of craft and indoor games by children these days. Though it is best that a child wear an art apron while working with clay, some stains do manage to find their way to clothes somehow. This, of course, is no reason to hinder the fun and learning that accompanies your child’s exploration of clay crafts, especially once you know how to remove clay from clothes.

A simple way to get rid of clay stains is to treat them with a mixture of white vinegar and iodized salt. Spread this mixture generously on the smear, and let alone for half an hour. At the end of this time, rinse the surface with cold water. If the stain does not come out in one go, you can use this treatment a second time. Once the mark has faded, wash the item with Surf excel, as you normally do.

You can also check out our video that will help you get rid of stains, easily.

For more stain removal advice, check out our article about how to get rid of mud and grass stains.

So you see, mud and clay stains need not be in the way of your child’s fun and learning. It is perfectly fine for them to do these things the messy way!

There’s nothing like putting on a new item of clothing only to spill something on it right after. Or, that proud feeling of showing off a brand new rug only for a beloved pet to make their mark on it. But fret not — where there’s a will to get a stain out, there’s a way.

Stain removal experts Patric Richardson, owner of Mona Williams, also known as The Laundry Evangelist, and Mary Marlowe Leverette, laundry and housekeeping expert at The Spruce, were kind enough to share a few tips on how to get the toughest stains out of your clothing, and various surfaces, too.

How to remove wine stains


Leverette recommends “flushing” the stain by holding the fabric wrong side up under running cold-water to force the stain out — contrary to advice, club soda doesn’t work any better than plain water, she says. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water (or use a product with those ingredients) and soak the entire garment for at least one hour. “Four hours are better, overnight is best,” she says. Check the stains and wash as usual.

Rugs and upholstery

Richardson says to dab a solution of water and bleach alternative on the stain and follow up by dabbing it with a towel of clear hot water. Then, use a clean towel blot up the wet area. “If your carpet is white or a light color, it will appear bleached but If you leave it for a few weeks the color will even out once again,” he says.

Leverette says to bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide can bleach out the color of darker carpets and upholstery.

Granite or marble countertops

Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste the consistency of peanut butter. Spread the mixture about one-fourth inch thick over the stain and cover with plastic wrap. Tape down the edges of the plastic wrap to hold it in place. Allow the mixture to remain on the stain for 24 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and allow the mixture to dry completely, then wipe away. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone. After cleaning, the stained area will need to be resealed to prevent further staining.

How to remove ink stains

Leverette recommends dipping a cotton swab in clear rubbing alcohol and gently lifting the stain from the outside edge toward the center, swapping swabs as soon as each absorbs the ink. She warns permanent ink (as in Sharpies) are permanent.

Use the same techniques. When stain is removed, blot the area with plain water and allow to air dry.


Again — same as above. Rinse with plain water and do not allow the alcohol to dry on the stone.

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How to remove grease stains

Richardson says it can be “very frustrating” to get grease stains out of clothing — but there is a simple trick. “Use a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water on the stain. Apply liberally and then treat with laundry soap and water. “DO NOT put the garment in the dryer until you have seen that the stain is gone,” he warns.

Richardson advises dabbing grease stains with laundry soap and rinsing with water. Follow up by dabbing a little white vinegar on the spot if the stain still shows.

How to remove pet urine stains and smells

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Leverette says washing the item with a heavy-duty detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric should do the trick. “Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water to help with odor removal. If the stain is old and the odor is strong, mix a solution of cool water and add two cups white distilled vinegar. Completely submerge the fabric and allow it to soak overnight,” she says. Wash as recommended above. Line drying the items outside will also help get rid of the odors.

As soon as possible, soak up urine stains with white paper towels, an old cloth, or a wet/dry shop vacuum, says Leverette. If using a cloth, press it firmly into the stain using an old shoe and keep moving to a dry area or new paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. Commercial pet stain removers work fine but you can easily make your own by mixing one-part distilled white vinegar and one-part cool water and pouring it into a spray bottle, she says. Be sure to completely saturate the carpet all the way to the backing. Use a soft-bristle brush to work it deep into the fibers, and blot the solution away using paper towels or a shop vacuum, allowing the stain to air dry.

When the carpet is dry, sprinkle the area with baking soda. Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “This should be mixed fresh each time because hydrogen peroxide turns to pure water after exposure to light,” Leverette explains. Spray or pour this solution onto the baking soda and use a soft bristle brush to work it into the carpet. Blot or vacuum away the moisture, allowing the carpet to air dry away from direct heat. When the carpet is dry, vacuum to lift the fibers.

How to remove grass stains

Leverette recommends treating grass stains with a stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent (Tide and Persil contain the needed enzymes to remove the stains). “Work the stain remover into the fabric with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual. If the stains remain or are older, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water and allow the garment to soak overnight, then wash,” she says.

How to remove coffee stains

Richardson says the easiest way to remove coffee stains is to run hot water directly through the stain. “If the stain sets, spot treat it with a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water, then use a brush and a little laundry soap to remove the vinegar.

Leverette recommends blotting the stain and mixing a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing detergent in two cups of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth, sponge, or soft bristle brush in the solution. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep it from spreading, work the cleaning solution into the stain. Blot with a dry cloth to absorb the solution. “Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. Finish by dipping a clean cloth in plain water to rinse the spot. This is especially important because any soapy residue left in the carpet will actually attract more soil,” she explains. Allow the stain to air dry away from direct heat, then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. “It will solve almost all tough stains,” says Leverette, who advises against using acidic cleaners like vinegar or lemon juice, which can etch the stone.

How to remove mud stains

Richardson says the easiest way to remove mud from your clothes is to use laundry soap and a brush directly on the fabric. “Wet the area and then rub the stain with soap and a brush — repeat twice if the stain is really set,” he says.

Richardson says to wet the stain generously with water, use laundry soap and a brush to remove the mud, then spray vinegar and water on the area to dissolve the soap. Finally, blot with a clean dry towel.

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How to remove blood stains

Leverette says to flush the stained area with cold (never hot) water as soon as possible. “Hot water will cook the protein in the blood, making it more difficult to remove from the fabric,” she explains. Treat the stain with stain remover or a bit of liquid heavy-duty laundry detergent, working it into the fibers with a soft-bristled brush. Set aside for 15 minutes and then wash as usual in cool water. “If the stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water and submerge the entire garment, allowing it to soak at least four hours,” she says. Repeat if needed and wash as usual.

Blot up as much moisture as possible with a white paper towel, says Leverette. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel as the blood is absorbed to prevent making the stain larger. If the stain has dried, use a soft bristled brush to loosen the dried blood and vacuum away before treating.

Mix one teaspoon of liquid hand dish washing detergent in two cups of cold water. Dip a white cloth or the brush in this solution and work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Blot or lightly scrub the stain and blot with a dry paper towel to absorb the moisture. When the stain is gone, dip a clean white cloth in plain cold water and rinse the area to remove all cleaning solution. Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the fibers.

If this method doesn’t work, Leverette says to mix one tablespoon household ammonia with 1/2 cup water. Apply to the stain and let it sit on the carpet for at least 10 minutes. Blot away and rinse with plain water and repeat until the stain is removed.

So go ahead — get dirty without fear. At least now you know how to clean it all up.


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How to Get Mud Stains Out of Clothes

Mud runs and obstacle races are a fun way to mix up your workout. Not so fun? Dealing with your super-dirty clothes afterwards. You probably know how to get mud stains out of clothes when it’s just a spot here and there. But dealing with race wear that is completely covered in mud, grass stains, and more is a totally different ball game. (BTW, this is the only workout you need to train for an obstacle race.)

Above all, experts recommend not wearing your absolute favorite workout outfit to one of these races. “Mud is one of the toughest stains to remove, so I would highly recommend wearing clothes that you’re perfectly comfortable never seeing again,” says Dan Miller, founder and CEO of Mulberrys Garment Care. “That said, there are steps you can take to increase the chances that they can be salvaged.” (Love the gear in our video? Shop similar tanks and capris from SHAPE Activewear.)

Choose your fabrics strategically.

When it comes to stain removal, not all fabrics are created equal. “Polyester and polyester/elastane blends are very popular in activewear as are cotton and cotton blends,” says Jennifer Ahoni, Tide senior scientist. “While you should choose what you feel most comfortable in, I’d recommend finding something with synthetic fibers like polyester or a polyester blend, as mud and dirt tend to stick to them less than to natural fibers like cotton.”

Stick with dark colors.

“Look for technical fabrics, typically synthetic blends, that come in heather grays or printed patterns that use darker tones,” says Merin Guthrie, founder of Kit, a custom digital dressmaker for women and an expert in fabrics. “Any time you have a heather, it creates an optical illusion that helps hide stains. Darker colors are overall a better choice because they’ve spent longer soaking in dye before you purchase them. “When you over-dye something, which is what you are doing when you end up in mud pits, that mud dye is going on top of the other dye. Basically, the more dye in a fabric already, the better it will stand up to the mud.”

Rinse your clothes right after the race.

Once you’ve completed the mud-covered photo op (let’s be real, that’s one of the best parts of the race!), brush off any big pieces of mud with your hands and try rinsing your clothes right away, suggests Lauren Haynes, a cleaning expert at Star Domestic Cleaners. “My advice is while you are still covered in mud, find a shower, a hosing-off station, or a nearby lake-there is probably at least one of these water sources near the race track. Give your clothes a good rinse inside and out, and you will definitely minimize later washing efforts and mess at home.”

Rinse and throw in the wash ASAP: “If you wait any longer than 24 hours, it will make it very difficult to remove all of the mud,” Miller says.

Spring for sports detergent.

Unless you went for white activewear, bleaching your muddy clothes probably isn’t a great option-although there are some color-safe bleaches out there if you want to go that route. Instead, experts recommend selecting a detergent that’s meant for really dirty clothes. “Detergents that are higher in alkalinity will be more effective,” Miller says. “Alkaline solutions break down naturally occurring matter such as sweat, blood, and some compounds found in mud.” These detergents are often marketed as sports detergents, but a quick search for alkaline detergents is the easiest way to find one.

Wash in warm water.

“Wash muddy or dirty clothes in the warmest water the garment’s care label allows,” Ahoni says. This allows for a deeper clean while still protecting the fabric’s fibers from getting too hot. Ahoni also suggests washing your super-dirty pieces separately from any other clothing, since the mud could transfer onto other pieces during the washing process.

Do a spot check before drying.

Make sure you’re happy with your stain removal efforts before sticking your activewear in the dryer. “Just as clay bakes in a kiln, any mud on your clothes will bake in the dryer, making it nearly impossible to remove,” Ahoni says. If you see remaining stains, repeat the wash until stains are removed, then dry.

How to Remove Dirt and Mud Stains

Table of Contents:

  1. Removing Mud Stains
  2. Removing Set-In Mud Stains
  3. Additional Tips and Advice


Mud and dirt are inevitable enemies of laundry. They may seem easy to manage, but if not handled correctly, they can lead to an unsightly and permanent stain. By following a few simple steps, you’ll be able to tackle even the most formidable mud stain with ease.

Removing Mud Stains

What You Will Need

  • Plastic knife or plastic spoon
  • Small nail brush or toothbrush
  • Liquid dish soap (such as Dawn or Ajax), or laundry pre-treatment product (such as Shout or OxiClean)
  • Washer
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach (optional, depending on whether the soiled clothes can tolerate bleach)

Steps to Remove the Stain

  1. If the stain is wet mud (as opposed to dried dirt), allow the mud to dry completely. DO NOT attempt to wipe away mud that is wet or damp as this will spread the stain and possibly grind it into the fabric fibers.
  2. When the mud is dry, gently scrape off the excess with the plastic knife or spoon, being careful not to grind the dirt into the fabric.
  3. Gently brush at the dirt/dried mud with small brush or toothbrush.
  4. Put a few drops of liquid dish soap onto the stain, and rub it into the stain with your thumb and forefinger.
  5. Add a drop or two of water to the detergent/stain spot and briskly rub with brush or toothbrush on BOTH sides of the fabric, using circular motions.
  6. You may need to repeat these steps several times before the stain is completely gone.
  7. In the alternative, treat the stain with laundry pre-treatment product of your choice, as per the directions on the package.
  8. Wash the garment following all care guidelines on the tag.
  9. When cycle is completely finished, check the clothes carefully for any sign of the stain. If the stain remains, repeat steps 4-8. NEVER dry clothes in a dryer if a stain remains as this will set the stain, which will then be nearly impossible to remove.

Removing Set-In Mud Stains

  • Hand cleaner (ex: GoJo or Purell)
  • Small brush (an old toothbrush works well)
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Washing Machine

Steps to Remove Set-In Stains

  1. The hand cleaner that mechanics use is most effective. A common brand of this thick pasted, clear cleaner is GoJo. There is a generic version of this hand cleaner available at the dollar store that works just as well.
  2. Spread a layer of the hand cleaner on both sides of the clothing stain.
  3. Use a small brush to scrub the stain on both sides of the fabric. The goal is to work the cleaner deep into the fibers to remove the stain.
  4. Allow the cleaner to set on the stain for an hour or so.
  5. Wash in the washing machine with warm water and laundry detergent.
  6. Allow the item to agitate for longer than normal. When the agitation part of the cycle nears the end, it may be necessary to restart it. Allow the piece to agitate for 30 minutes if possible.
  7. Continue the wash cycle as normal.
  8. Allow the piece to air dry first to ensure the stain is removed.
  9. If the stain remains, repeat the above steps.


Additional Tips and Advice

  • ALWAYS read the label on your garment to determine proper washing instructions.
  • It is generally a good idea to wash stained clothes separately from other laundry to avoid spreading the stain to other clothes.
  • If the dirt or mud stain is on a delicate fabric such as silk or wool, or if the garment is designated as dry-clean only, take the item to a professional cleaner. For help finding reputable cleaners in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, or visit the yellow pages.
  • The laundry aisle of your local grocery store most likely has numerous products available to pre-treat stains (i.e. Tide to Go, Shout, etc.). Always read and follow all directions carefully, making certain that the product is appropriate for the fabric you have in mind.
  • If using bleach in your wash, always exercise caution. Bleach is a hazardous chemical and should be handled with care. For more information, see the Ashland Material Safety Data Sheet (PDF).
  • Although removing a fresh stain is often easier than removing one that has set in, trying to remove a mud stain before it is dry will generally only worsen the stain, so make sure the mud has dried first.
  • With dry dirt, the sooner you can treat the stain, the better. Even if you can’t get the item into a washer right away, it is best to pre-treat the stain anyway. If you don’t have access to dishwashing soap, even liquid hand soap will be better than nothing.

Mud out of clothes

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