How to Actually Get Rid of Grass Stains

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shot from above, a baby sitting inbetween someone's legs on the grass. grass has little white flowers. baby is wearing white clothes and orange hi-top sneakers. you only see the adult's legs and they are wearing orange hi-top sneakers as well.
Credit: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/Getty Images

Embracing your inner child and rolling down that verdant hill seems like a good idea…until you wind up with grass stains on your brand-new light-wash jeans. As hard as it is to find laundry motivation, don’t procrastinate: “Catching the stain earlier is so much better than later,” says James Joun, cofounder of the laundry service Rinse. “If you throw it in the hamper where it’s moist or in the sunlight, it can further set the stain and make it much harder to get out.” 

Here, Joun and Angie Tran, cofounder of the eco-friendly brand Kind Laundry, outline a four-step playbook for removing grass stains after a rowdy day outdoors.

Pretreat before washing.

As soon as possible, apply a product like Shout or OxiClean directly to the stain and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes, Joun says. “Grass contains chlorophyll, which is basically a dye,” he says. “It binds to the garment’s fibers. You want to loosen that stain from the fabric.” 

If you don’t have a stain removal product on hand, you can also soak the item in water swirled with a teaspoon of regular detergent. Or, for an eco-friendly option, mix one teaspoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and three tablespoons of cool to warm water, depending on the fabric, suggests Tran. (Contrary to what you may have heard, Tran says hydrogen peroxide won’t bleach out colorfast dyes, but test it in a discreet location first just to be on the safe side.) 

A caveat: Tough fabrics like denim and cotton typically do well with at-home treatments, but you’ll want to leave delicates like silk to a professional.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Take a two-pronged approach if the stain also includes soil.

Where there’s a grass stain, there’s usually dirt, but the same stain removal techniques don’t work equally well for both. Brush off or blot as much soil as you can using a sponge or even a vacuum cleaner before treating the grass stain, Joun says. Avoid pressing or rubbing the dirt, which will push it deeper into the fabric. Then move on to pretreating the grass stain before tossing the item in the wash. 

“If you catch it early, the agitation of the washing machine will help break up and loosen the soil, and hopefully those particles will just fall out,” he says.

Use a detergent with enzymes.

Good news! The detergent in your laundry kit probably already contains protease enzymes, which are the ones that work on chlorophyll, Tran says — but check the label just to be sure. 

Enzymes work by breaking the bonds that form between the chlorophyll and the fibers of your garment, explains Joun. “In doing that, you’re loosening those grass stains at the micro level so they can be flushed out with the water from the washing machine.” 

Warm water activates the enzymes, so run the cycle on the hottest temperature the fabric will tolerate.

Don’t use the dryer until the stain is totally gone.

It can be difficult to tell if every trace of green has vanished while fabric is still wet, and hot air permanently sets stains. So, you’re better off air-drying the garment until you know the job is done, Joun says. Sometimes it takes a few tries, so repeat these steps if they don’t work the first time.

Apartment Therapy’s Laundry, Sorted vertical was written and edited independently by the Apartment Therapy editorial team and generously underwritten by Samsung.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: How to Actually Get Rid of Grass Stains