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Life Hacks

Why Grass Stains Are So Tough To Remove — And the Pantry Staples That Come Through

Different approaches work for different fabrics

Argh! There’s nothing more frustrating than kneeling down to pull a weed or two and then realizing you’ve just stained your favorite pants. Indeed, removing grass stains is one of the trickiest laundry challenges, but according to experts, it’s a lot easier than you think to make all your once pristine clothes look like new again. Simply read on for the hacks pros swear by.

What makes grass stains so hard to remove

“Grass is protein and organic matter,” explains Caroline Topperman, a style and fashion blogger at The pigments are similar to the fibers found in cotton, which causes the stain to penetrate the fabric more easily and makes it more like a dye than a stain.

The good news? “There are solvents you likely already have on hand like white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and even bleach that can remove grass stains,” Topperman says.

The best overall strategy to remove grass stains

The fabric and garment you’re trying to clean will determine which type of solvent you should use. One important tip overall: When it comes to how to remove grass stains on shoes and clothes, you’ll want to apply the solvent directly to the stain and gently scrub it with a moist rag or toothbrush until it starts to fade.

“The key is to keep the stain moist so that it doesn’t set because that makes it much more difficult to remove,”adds Topperman. “In addition, make sure that the stain has completely lifted before putting your clothing in the dryer or you risk it setting in permanently.” 

How to remove grass stains from light-colored cottons

Dirty stain of fresh grass on white clothes. daily life stain concept. outdoors

Use white vinegar

We asked Topperman to explain how to remove grass stains from khakis, T-shirts and other everyday garments — and it starts with using distilled white vinegar. How it works? The acetic acid in white vinegar works to break down the grass’ green pigments.

Here are her three steps for how to remove grass stains from clothes quickly and easily.

  1. Soak the stain for 15 minutes in a solution of two parts water to one part white vinegar. 
  2. Take a clean white rag and gently dab the stain. 
  3. Wash the stained pants or top with an enzyme-based laundry detergent. The enzymes will help lift the protein off the fabric.

Repeat the above steps as necessary until the stains are gone.

How to remove grass stains from jeans

woman holding jeans with grass stains
New Africa/shutterstock

Opt for rubbing alcohol

There’s nothing more annoying than noticing a big green streak on the knees or seat of your favorite denim pants. The amount of time it takes to clean your jeans will depend on how long the stain’s been there. If the blemish is fresh, there’s an easy way to get rid of it quickly. 

“Generously wet your jeans with rubbing alcohol using a sponge or cotton swab,” Dean Davies, a professional upholstery cleaning technician at Fantastic Services, explains. “After the stained area is completely dry, rinse it with cool water. Apply a small amount of liquid detergent to the affected area and rub it in for at least five minutes. Then rinse with cold water and allow the fabric to air dry.”

Repeat as necessary until the stain has vanished, then toss your jeans in the laundry as normal.

If the stain’s been around for awhile, try some toothpaste as well! “Apply a dollop of toothpaste to the jeans and gently rub away the stain,” Topperman suggests. The same ingredient in toothpaste that helps remove set in stains on your teeth, can help remove those set in grass stains. “It might take a few tries, but it will have your jeans looking like new again!”

How to remove grass stains from polyester baseball pants

Add baking soda to the mix

Timing is everything if you want to know the best way to remove stains from baseball pants and other sportswear and Davies is adamant that you should deal with it right away.

Why? Most sportswear is made from synthetic material that can be especially sensitive to permanent stains. Davies’ go-to strategy for how to remove grass stains from football jerseys, baseball pants and other athletic clothing involves using baking soda. It’s made with sodium bicarbonate which quickly reacts with organic stains, like grass, helping them to disappear, fast.

How to remove grass stains from polyester baseball pants

  1. Mix three tablespoons of baking soda and two tablespoons of water to form a paste. 
  2. Apply a thick layer of the paste over the stained area and let the solution dry. 
  3. Combine a half cup of white vinegar, one cup of water and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a bowl. 
  4. Apply a small amount of the mixture over the affected area and scrub the grass stain using a toothbrush. 
  5. Rinse the garment with warm water and let it air dry. 

Another great solvent to try on white baseball pants? Bleach. Simply follow the above method, then place the pants in the washing machine with ¼ cup of chlorine bleach. 

How to remove grass stains from shoes

Use this cleaning mix

Those white sneakers you slipped on right before heading to the park are now a messy shade of green. To try Topperman’s method for how to get rid of grass stains on white Converse, tennis shoes and other light-colored footwear, you’ll need water, a toothbrush, laundry detergent, a cleaning solution and distilled white vinegar.

Here’s how to remove grass stains from white shoes quickly and easily.

  1. Use a damp cloth to wet the stain and remove any dirt or debris from the shoe.
  2. Mix one part laundry detergent to three parts water, then apply the solution to the stain.
  3. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the stain.
  4. Apply a cleaning product, like Quick ’n Brite (Buy from Amazon, $14.99), if the stain isn’t going away.
  5. Still seeing green? Use a few drops of white distilled vinegar to remove it. 
  6. Finally, use a clean, dry cloth to remove the rest of the stain and excess moisture. 

Voila! Your shoes will look like you’ve never stepped foot on a freshly cut lawn.

How to remove set-in grass stains

Try using hydrogen peroxide

You’re going through a pile of dirty clothes and come across a shirt with a severe grass stain that must have occurred weeks ago. How are you going to get this out now?

The good news is that a set-in stain might not necessarily be permanent, but you’ll need to take swift action to get rid of it, says Davies. Follow these five steps to get it done effectively.

  1. Make a solution of two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part liquid dish soap. Put it in a spray bottle and shake well to combine.
  2. Spray the cleaning solution to the stained area and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. Place the garment in a sink filled with warm water and a cup of all-fabric bleach. Let it sit for at least three hours (or overnight).
  4. Put the garment in the washing machine and run it through a normal wash cycle using detergent.
  5. During the rinse cycle, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to brighten and soften the fabric. Air dry the clothes.

For an easy tutorial on how to remove grass stains, watch this YouTube video:

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