Back To School: Remove Stains On Clothes

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Back to school means fighting tough messes. From spilt lunches to mud-filled soccer games, kids' clothes require some serious cleaning by the time they arrive home. Learn how to remove some of the most stubborn stains your child can create with this guide to the toughest back-to-school messes.

Dirt And Mud

Some of the most common stains for kids, dirt and mud can be tough to remove from shirts, pants and sports equipment. Washing with detergent alone doesn't always do the trick, so try one of these tough stain solutions the next time you're struggling to clean a stubborn mess.


  • Knife (not serrated)
  • Old toothbrush
  • Dish soap
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)


  1. Wait until the mud is completely dry before trying to remove.
  2. Use the knife to gently scrape the dirt and mud off the clothing, lifting it up and off the fabric, rather than pushing it further down.
  3. After scraping, use the old tooth brush to softly brush away any extra loosened dirt.
  4. Sprinkle some dish soap onto the stain, and gently spread it with your finger.
  5. You can repeat this process several times, until the stain appears to be gone. Wash in a washing machine when done.
Ready for Planting Finished Product


Another frequent stain from recess and sports events is the grass stain. Here's what you'll need to remove this stubborn mess from school clothes and team uniforms.


  • Liquid or powder laundry detergent
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)
  • Hot water


  1. Soak the clothing in a bowl of very hot water, mixed with powder or liquid laundry detergent.
  2. Let the clothing sit until the stain appears to be gone.
  3. Wash the clothing in the washing machine after soaking, but do not dry until the stain is completely gone. Drying before removing the stain may set it in the fabric, making it harder or impossible to remove.


Accidents happen at the playground and on the playing field, and bloodstains can become quite common during the school year. Remove the blood as quickly as possible, especially on lighter fabrics.


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • White cloth
  • Soap
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)


  1. Dab the blood stain to remove as much of it as possible. Make sure the cleaning cloth is clean and white, so as not to leave any color deposits on the clothing.
  2. Be careful never to rub blood stains, as that will only set the blood further into the fabric.
  3. Fill a bowl or clean sink with very cold water, and completely submerge the clothing.
  4. Let the clothing sit in the cold water for up to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the sink, and try blotting the stain again with a clean, white cloth.
  6. Sprinkle Hydrogen peroxide on the stain, then rinse.
  7. Wash in the washing machine when done, and the stain is gone.


This lunchtime clothing mess can be a tough stain to lift from fabrics, and requires treating with two common household remedies.


  • Liquid Detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)


  1. Set the clothing in a bowl or clean sink, filled with very cold water.
  2. Remove, and apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain. Let it sit for several minutes.
  3. Rinse the clothing, removing all the detergent.
  4. Dab the stain with white vinegar. Repeat the process until the stain appears to be gone.
  5. Wash in the washing machine when done.

Permanent Markers

Whether in art class or at home, markers can be messy, and often end up on clothes. While washable markers are much easier to remove, here are the steps to lifting permanent marker stains from clothes.


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)
  • Cotton swabs or balls


  1. Dip cotton swabs or balls in rubbing alcohol, and gently dab the marker stains.
  2. Push hard enough to let the alcohol soak into the fabric, but do not rub the stain.
  3. Repeat until the stain appears to be gone.
  4. Wash in the washing machine when done.


Often, paint doesn't just end up on the canvas. When your child comes home covered in their art project, try these tips to remove paint from clothing.


  • Dish soap
  • Bleach (if the item you are cleaning is completely white)
  • Acetone


  1. Hold the clothing in warm water, until completely soaked.
  2. Sponge on some liquid dish soap, gently pressing it on the stain, then rinse.
  3. Dab the paint stain with acetone, until it appears to be gone.
  4. Wash in the washing machine when done.

Back to school can mean some tough messes are headed your way, but with these tips for removing even the most stubborn stains, your kids' clothes can be clean again. Use simple household items like bleach, white vinegar, acetone and dish soap to lift dirt, grass, blood, food and paint stains wherever they fall.

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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