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How to Get Tough Soil Stains Out of Clothes

Make sure your clothes are kept clean while tending to your lovely halamans with these quick tips!

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutesWritten by Eunice Samson

Image of plants being handled

Calling all plantitos and plantitas! We know working on even the smallest indoor gardening projects can leave tough stains on your clothes. Here’s the ultimate guide to keep your clothes clean after tending to your lovely plants!

There can be a surprising amount of dirt and soil that gets on clothes after gardening – not to mention the caked-on mud active children can bring back after playing outdoors. But it’s all easier to clean than you might think. This article explains how to get soil stains out, leaving your clothes looking as fresh as before.

How to Remove Soil Stains

Check the garment care tags — Before you do anything, make sure that the clothing is not labelled as delicate or dry-clean only by reading your garment care tags! Once ready for your regular washing, read our tips below:

  1. Start dry

    Strangely enough, soil stains are much easier to remove once they are completely dry. If you attempt to wash stains out with wet mud or soil, you’ll actually end up grinding the dirt deeper into the fibers of the clothing.

  2. Remove as much dried soil from the surface as possible.

    If it is caked on, you should be able to gently shake or knock off clumps of it. You can also use a blunt spoon or a dry toothbrush or hard-bristled brush to sweep dirt from the fabric surface.

  3. Saturate the stained fabric with liquid detergent and rub.

    You can use any suitable liquid laundry detergent to cover the stain. Most good quality liquid laundry detergents can be applied as a pre-treatment – just check the pack to ensure that you use it correctly. Rub the detergent into the stain, and let the detergent soak in for 15 minutes or more.

  4. Use a wet toothbrush to work away at the stain.

    The key here is not to soak the entire garment in water, or the mud will dissolve and permeate all the fabric. Instead, wet a toothbrush and use a few drops of water to scrub the detergent into the stain. Rub the stain from both sides of the fabric in a circular motion, and you should see the detergent loosen the mud from the fabric.

  5. Wash the garment on a normal machine wash cycle.

    When you feel the stain has been significantly lifted, wash the garment in the machine on a normal cycle. Check the garment care tags and select your temperature setting accordingly – aim for a warm rather than cool wash. You should wash muddy clothes separately from any other clothes.

  6. If the stain remains, do not tumble dry.

    Repeat steps 4-6 until all traces of the mud are gone. Allow the garment to air dry. Tumble drying a stained article will only bake in remaining dirt.

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Removing Mud Stains from Delicate or Dry-Clean Only Fabrics

If the garment is labelled delicate, dry-clean, or made from a fabric like silk or wool, you should take it to a professional cleaner to handle the stain. Trying to remove a mud or soil stain with the previous steps may permanently damage a delicate or dry-clean only piece of clothing. So play it safe, and leave these garments to the professionals.

With these tips, removing soil stains should be simple and straightforward. Even the worst stains from tending to your leafy alagas can come off with enough time, patience, and a little know-how.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on getting tough soil stains out of clothes

How do you clean up soil in your laundry?

If you have some clothes that need washing but found soil in the laundry, you will need to know how to get rid of it. Firstly, do not get the piece of laundry wet as this will only allow the soil to soak in. Now, use something with a little abrasion like a toothbrush or a soft bristled brush to clean off as much of the dirt as possible. Apply some detergent to the remaining stain and scrub it with a wet toothbrush. Then, air dry it. Do not tumble dry it as this may bake the dirt deeper in.

How do you remove other plant stains from clothes?

It is likely that any time spent in the garden will be visible on your clothes afterwards, so you need to know how to remove plant stains from clothes. For grass and other plants, use cold water applied directly on the stain. Do not use hot water or any heat as this will bake the stain in. After a bit of scrubbing, try rubbing on some detergent and then wash the clothing normally.

Do you have more advice for how to get tough stains out of clothes?

You'd be surprised at how effective (and affordable!) home remedies can be on tough stains. Using mixtures of baking soda and white vinegar can break up and absorb a lot of tough stains on clothes, particularly on delicates where machine washing isn't an option. The key to defeating all stains, though, is acting quickly! If you want to learn more about how to get tough stains out of clothes, check out the Cleanipedia Laundry section for detailed guides on each and every stain possible.

Originally published