There’s no end to spring stains – it’s just part of the season – rain and mud, everyone going outside, starting up summer hobbies. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most insidious spring stains. 

Remember, with all these tips, test them on a hidden area of the clothing to be sure the solution won’t cause discoloration. 

Mud Stains

Mud and dirt are perhaps the most prolific and troublesome spring stains. First, flake all the excess mud and dirt off. If possible, pre-treat the stain immediately. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. If the stain persists, continue soaking and wash with regular detergent. 

Picnic Stains

This includes barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup and any of the usual summertime condiments. Use cold water; this prevents the stain from working into fabric and totally saturating threads. 

Grass Stains

As always, pre-treat if possible with a detergent designed to break down enzymes. A spray bottle with equal part vinegar and water will break down the proteins, and with gentle rubbing the stain should come right out. 

Bicycle Grease

Rachael Ray suggests using Cheese Whiz will remove grease stains. Give it a whirl if you’re feeling brave and don’t mind yellow spots. Otherwise, dish soap, which is formulated to remove oils and proteins, can be worked into the stain and will remove most of it with a rinse. 

Blood Stains

We’re back to detergent or anything that breaks down proteins. Some people suggest that saliva will remove bloodstains. Science doesn’t back that up – Saliva is 99.5% water with a few enzymes to break down fats, glycoproteins and mucus. Odds are, it will make the stain worse. Use dish soap, cold water or hydrogen peroxide. Some sources suggest a “salt paste” but this seems likely to cause a whole new stain and is going to be hard on your clothing. 

Gum Removal

Our favorite technique (and by far the easiest) is to freeze it. Using an ice cube will make the gum hard, and then just scrape it off. For more delicate fabrics, simply put them in the freezer for a short time, then brush off the offending gum with a toothbrush. 

In a pinch, hand sanitizer with alcohol will break up many organic stains. In almost all cases, cold water is the best approach when preparing to launder something with a nasty stain. Properly treating and removing stains from clothing will make them last longer, and keep them looking sharp for a long time. 

Image credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / zastavkin