Keep Your Kids’ Sports Uniforms Looking Clean

It’s springtime, which means that it’s time to play ball! Around here, we’re plenty excited to root for the Mets and the Yankees, but we’re also cheering on my older son, who’s playing in a Little League team for the first time this year. I’m trying not to be one of those overzealous sports moms who embarrasses their kid by jumping up and down and yelling encouragement from the stands throughout the whole game, but it’s tough to hold back sometimes, especially when he makes a great play! There is one way that I can support him without making him roll his eyes, though, and that’s by making sure that his uniforms are clean for every game.

Sounds easy, right? If that’s what you think, you probably haven’t been the mom of a baseball player (or a hockey player, or soccer player, or any other sport with a uniform, for that matter). Sports uniforms can be some of the filthiest things that will every go into your washing machine, and the stains they get can be a real challenge to get out. Here are some of the worst problems you’re likely to encounter and some advice for how to tackle them.

Grass Stains

Any sport played on a grassy field is likely to lead to grass stains sooner or later. The chlorophyl from that lush green turf isn’t so pretty, though, when it’s in the form of stubborn green stains on the knees of your child’s pants. But did you know that you can get out grass stains using just a few kitchen ingredients? Take a bunch of sugar and mix in just enough water to turn it into a paste, then rub it into the strain with a scrub brush before you throw it into the wash.

Dirt Stains

Watching your child slide into home plate is thrilling, but getting the stains out of their uniform? Not so much. But this is another situation where my old friend white vinegar can help. Mix a cup of vinegar with a few tablespoons of table salt, then soak the stain for at least a half-hour. Give it a cold rinse and the stain should come right out. If it doesn’t, repeat the soak or try something stronger, like Borax and water or even diluted bleach (assuming that it’s a white uniform, of course).

Blood Stains

Nobody likes to think of their child bleeding, but cuts and scrapes are inevitable in sports, whether your child is participating in baseball, track and field, basketball, or field hockey. That’s one of the reasons why I keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house. It does a great job of getting out blood stains. Either blot the stain with peroxide until it’s gone, or try pouring some onto the stain and then covering it with salt. The salt will absorb most of the mess, leaving you nothing left to do but brush it off into the trash and throw the uniform into the wash.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

One major thing that will help you get your child’s uniforms clean is not to procrastinate. Every minute that goes by once you get home from the game is another minute when those stains are setting in. Insist that your child take off their uniform as soon as they get home so you can get to work on it right away if you want to have the best chance of getting it perfectly clean. Also, don’t forget about another major issue that you might not be able to see: sweat. Even if the uniform doesn’t look horribly dirty, it can smell absolutely awful after a game. Pour some vinegar (yes, that again) into the bleach dispenser of your washing machine and that should take care of the stink. And remember, once that outfit comes out of the wash, you probably don’t want to throw it into the dryer: Many uniforms are made of fabrics that just can’t take the heat. Hang them to dry instead.