Sunday, October 25, 2009

How to remove dirt stains

If my son excels in anything, it’s filth. I fully expect his T-ball and soccer T-shirts to need a good soaking when we get home after a game, and for the most part I can get most of his stains out. By the end of the season, though, Truman’s sports Tees have been marked by faint reminders of slides into home plate and downtime digging holes to China at third base.

stainedI know my son is not alone in his filth, though I suspect he exceeds all others in collecting it on his clothes. Thus, it boggles my mind why T-ball organizers will select WHITE T-shirts for these kids. Do they even know what they put us mothers through?

Last weekend, even though it looked likely that, like the first game of the fall ball season, the second game would be called because of rain, we still drove out to the field for the official word. While waiting for the commissioner to make the call, we received Truman’s new T-ball jersey. Big shocker here – it was white. As the rain poured down, my son joined a handful of other boys and ran the bases, sliding into home and pretty much rolling in the red mud. The boys were having so much fun they were surprised when the officials finally decided it was raining too hard to play the game. My son walked off the field and in front of me, and I was speechless. How would I ever get that T-shirt cleaned?

I’m not known for my impeccable housekeeping nor my stain removal ability, but I took that shirt as a challenge. I headed home and began working on it. It was only after the shirt was fully engaged in the washer that I took time to research the topic. Here’s what I learned about how to remove mud stains from white T-shirts:

  • Read the tag first. Those tags can provide helpful information, such as what temperature the shirt should be washed in and whether bleach will hurt the shirt or its design.
  • Experts say a stain that has been given a chance to settle in is more difficult to remove than one that is tended to quickly. That said, experts also say wet mud should dry before being washed as washing it while wet can make the stain worse.
  • Brush off all excess dirt. Use a plastic knife and scrape, if necessary. And follow up with a vacuum to be sure all the hard, flakey mud is gone as much as possible.
  • Tackle that stain with a mixture of water and liquid laundry detergent or liquid dish detergent. Work with a brush in circular motions and continue until the stain is gone. You may also use a pre-treatment, such as Spray n’ Wash.
  • If the label says it is OK, try soaking the shirt in bleach or Oxy Clean. Some experts claim vinegar will do the trick.
  • Wash in cold water. Hot water will supposedly cause the stain to soak into the fibers.

I’ll have you know that I followed none of that advice. It was too late, as by the time I began reading up on the subject I was already halfway into the laundry cycle. My plan was to throw that caked-on muddy T-shirt into the laundry. I poured in a generous amount of Tide with Bleach alternative and liquid Oxy Clean into the washer and set the temp at HOT. My plan was to get that soggy mud off and then pre-treat and soak in Oxy Clean and Tide with Bleach alternative in hot water overnight. As you see, this was not what the experts recommended.

But when I went to the washer to get my what-I-expected-to-be-badly-soiled wet T-shirt out of the washer after that first hot-water run, it was completely free of stains! No kidding! Just in case my eyes were playing tricks on me, I went ahead and pretreated the shirt and let it soak in Tide and Oxy Clean for a few hours before moving it on to the dryer. The result, a like-new white T-shirt!

The moral of this story? Just do you best to work out that stain, and if it works, count yourself lucky!

Photo, JWJourney

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