Welcome to Camp52, where we're recapturing the fun of summer as a kid. All month long, you'll find playful, carefree ideas for snacks (s'mores and popsicles, anyone?), drinks, crafts, games, field trips, packing tips, and more. Today: how to remove summer's peskiest stain.
A few weeks ago, on a short trip to Block Island, I went for a walk and found myself on a hill in the early evening, looking out over the ocean; the sun was getting lower, the sky still luminously blue. I bought a lemonade and a slice of watermelon from a nearby food truck, ate it on the highest part of the hill, then sprawled out on the grass, flat on my back, and thought: this is peak summer. But also: did the July grass just stain my white shirt?
Unfortunately, many of our favorite carefree summer activities are likely to leave us with a problem: bright green grass stains on our clothes. But fear not. In anticipation of many more picnics and lawn games to come before summer’s through, I’ve rounded up the most common DIY solutions to grass stains that the internet had to offer, smudged grass on some spare cotton fabric, and tested all of them out.
My criteria? I only tried remedies made from common household items found in the kitchen or medicine cabinet—no specialized cleaning products, not even bleach (I opted for gentler methods to see if they’d work). I tried four pre-treatment methods, let them sit, then rinsed, scrubbed with detergent, and rinsed again. And, I treated one sample only with detergent, for comparison’s sake.
Here’s the good news, for anyone venturing outdoors this summer: All five solutions—which I found on WikiHow, Popsugar, and Mother Nature Network—worked amazingly well, though one solution worked even better than others. Here they are, in order from “pretty darn good” to “can’t tell at all that you spent all day in a field."
5. Rubbing alcohol.
The method: Generously blot the stain with rubbing alcohol and air dry. Rinse with cold water. Then spoon on some detergent and scrub it in vigorously (I used an unused toothbrush). Let sit for 10 minutes and rinse in cool water.
The verdict: After seeing rubbing alcohol touted online as a foolproof solution for grass stains—something about the solvent breaking down the organic material—I had high hopes. So I was surprised that this worked the least well out of the five solutions I tried. It still got the stain out most of the way, but left a very faint, pale yellow splotch behind.
4. Just detergent.
The method: Add detergent to the stain, rub in vigorously with a brush, let sit for about 10 minutes, and rinse with cool water.
The verdict: This sample was meant to serve as a comparison to the DIY pre-treatments, but good old detergent (Real Simple recommends one that’s enzyme-based, like Persil or Tide) and some scrubbing worked shockingly well. It still left a small yellow spot, which is why it lands in fourth place.
3. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
The method: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste. Smear onto the grass stain and let sit (I left mine for about 30 minutes). Scrub with a brush, rinse with cool water, scrub in detergent, let sit, then rinse in cool water again.
The verdict: This solution made more of a mess than the others (the paste will dry into a powder you’ll have to shake or rinse off). But, after a detergent scrub, it left only the slightest hint of yellow-green.
2. Hydrogen peroxide and dish soap.
The method: Mix a few squirts of hydrogen peroxide with a few squirts of dish soap (no need to be super scientific about it). Soak the stain, let sit (I left mine for about 30 minutes), then scrub with a brush and rinse in cool water. Add detergent, scrub, let sit, and rinse.
The verdict: In terms of results, this method is tied with the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda method—it left only the tiniest glimpse of the grass stain—but it gets bonus points because it’s a little less messy.
1. And the winner: vinegar.
The method: Mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part water. Coat the stain, let sit (30 minutes worked well for me), scrub, and rinse in cool water. Then repeat the usual steps with the detergent: scrub, let sit, and rinse.
The verdict: Though all of these solutions got the stains about 95% of the way out, vinegar won, hands down. Once I was through, my test cloth was bright white again—no sign of green or yellow at all. Plus, it’s an inexpensive solution and likely to be close at hand in the pantry when you need it.
As always, test these solutions in an obtrusive area first, particularly on colored clothes, and take any delicates or dry-clean-only fabrics to a trusted cleaner. And be sure to only use cold water with grass stains: heat and hot water will set them.
Armed with these five simple solutions, you can somersault down hills and lie around in meadows to your heart’s content. Yes, even in your white jeans.
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