This was my favorite past time as a child – – playing in a mud puddle. As a parent, I now understand why my mother fussed at me so much for getting dirty – – she hated trying to keep my clothes clean and free from stains. Dirt stains clothing because the minerals, organic matter and particles in soil are trapped in the cloth fibers of our clothing by grease and oil. The grease and oil does not dissolve in water; therefore, you cannot remove dirt stains from clothing with water alone. Something other than water is required to loosen the grease and oil to free the dirt particles from the fibers. Laundry detergents have cleaning ingredients such as surfactants and enzymes that help break the bond between the oil and grease to allow the dirt particles to be released from the clothing. Are there other methods for removing dirt stains that do not respond to detergent alone?
For all mud and dirt stains, allow the mud to dry and then brush off the excess and launder. If the stain remains after laundering, sponge the dirt stain with rubbing alcohol to remove the remaining dirt stain and launder again using a stain fighting laundry detergent. For extremely tough dirt or mud stains, you can use a dry-cleaning solvent instead of the alcohol. Allow the dry-cleaning solvent to dry completely and then launder.
I use this method for my daughter’s dirt-stained clothing. I use a stain remover on the stain and let it sit for about fifteen minutes to allow the stain remover to dissolve the grease and oil. Using an old white rag, I rub the area and rinse with cold water. I apply more stain remover to the dirt stain and wash the clothing. Once the clothing is washed, I air dry and check to make sure the dirt stain is completely gone (avoid drying clothing until you are sure the stain is completely gone – – the heat may set the stain more).
Remember to presoak clothing that has dirt or mud stains. Presoaking allows laundry detergent to begin to dissolve the grease and oil and allow dirt particles to separate from clothing. Adding a stain-removing agent to the prewash will also help this process. Do not use warm or hot water during the presoak, wash or rinse cycle. The key to successfully removing dirt stains from clothing is to treat the stain as quickly as possible, wash the item, and hang to air dry. For stubborn stains, you may need to repeat this process; however, with persistence most dirt and mud stains can be removed from clothing.