It’s winter sport time again, with most sports kicking off last week.
We all know how quickly those sports kits get dirty, stained and more than a little smelly. While you’re cheering on that goal or tackle, as a mum, you probably also admit to a sinking feeling at the challenge of ever getting the kit clean again!
As professional cleaners, we also know a thing or two about restoring your clothes to their original glory – or at least close. If you’ve made tackles of your own on the dirt and stains with harsh cleaners, you’ve probably realised by now that, they’re pretty unkind on today’s modern fabrics, which require a little more TLC.
Sports uniforms these days are constructed with synthetic performance fabrics – some that are moisture-wicking, others developed for flexibility and durability. This might be great for the wearer, but not so good for whoever needs to get the kit clean as these synthetic fabrics require a more delicate cleaning approach. In addition, they are more likely to hold on to less than pleasant odours, than their natural fibre cousins.
So here’s our best tips for getting your child’s sports uniforms looking clean and smelling fresh, without damaging any performance capabilities.
The Mud Muddle
Your first instinct might be to soak the kit to stop the mud from drying in, but actually the opposite is more effective. What you actually need to do is hang up the uniform to let the mud dry. Once it’s dry, you can brush off as much dirt as possible, leaving the mud stains contained and visible for you to deal with.
For mud stains on synthetic fabrics, you’ll need to acquire an enzyme detergent, which will break down the soils and allow them to wash away easier. Just apply the detergent directly to the stain, rub gently, and let it sit for around 15 minutes before washing.
Grass Stain Stress
How can something so natural leave such a lasting stain that just won’t budge? Well, the culprit is the chlorophyll content, which has such a bold pigment, which sets in fabrics pretty quickly. So the best trick is to tackle these grisly grass stains as soon as you possibly can.
Soaking the stain in rubbing alcohol for a good 10 minutes is required before rinsing thoroughly in cold water. You might even want to take a little alcohol to the game (of the rubbing variety;)) to get onto those stains sharpish.
After this stage, you should see the stain fade noticeably. Follow this with a second soaking with an enzyme detergent and use a gentle, soft-bristle toothbrush to work it into the fibres. Let it sit for another 10 – 15 minutes before washing.
Kids love their juices and sports drinks, but uniforms seem to be magnets for spills.
Let’s face it, they are using up energy, sweating and need rehydration, and they’re not going to be careful, so drips might easily find their way onto the whole kit.
With juices, rinse as soon as possible with cold water rub gently to work out the stains. If they don’t start to life, mix in a little cleaning vinegar and soak for around 10 minutes before rinsing. If the stain persists, dab with a stain stick before washing.
Again, sweat stains are harder to remove once they’re dry, and if this happens repeatedly, you’ll start to see those unsightly yellow stains and discoloration. Soaking your kit in cold water before it dries will help – you can also add a little colour-safe stain remover to the water. Again, taking a change of top to sport day so you can rinse the top and place in a plastic bag until you get home will help enormously.
If you don’t catch the stain before it dries, apply equal parts lemon juice or white vinegar and water, and scrub with that soft toothbrush before washing. Pour the stain remover onto the stain and lightly scrub with an old toothbrush. For, built-up sweat stains, turn to your trusty enzyme detergent before you add to the laundry (inside out to ensure the detergent has the best chance of getting directly to the underarm body oils).
Sports inevitably result in a bloody nose, or knee scrape from time to time. And it’s a tricky stain to go into battle with. Cold water is your friend again here. Never use warm or hot water, which will only set the stain. While the garment is wet, work the stain with your fingers, or that soft brush again to dissolve as much blood as possible.
If the bloodstained uniform happens to be white you can soak it in hydrogen peroxide, which should dissolve any remnants of the stain. Just pour it on and let it fizz away for 5 minutes before washing. If the uniform is a coloured, avoid the peroxide, which will bleach the garments and opt for salt instead. Cover the stain with a layer of salt and allow it to dry. The salt will absorb blood, which can be easily brushed away before washing.
Washing and Drying
For all of the above, use the delicate setting on your washing machine, with a gentle detergent in cool water. Hot water is likely to cause shrinking and damage to the synthetic fabrics. Go easy on the detergent and avoid using fabric conditioner, which will tends to leave a film on the fabrics than hold in dirt and smells – and this is compounded the more you use it, so best to leave conditioner on the shelf.
Avoid the tumble dryer, which again, can damage fabrics, weaken elastic fibres and in some cases cause logos and numbers to melt and peel.
Luckily, these kits tend to dry very quickly, hanging on a drying rack or washing line.
Even more fortunately, they don’t need ironing, and again, don’t be tempted, or you might see the whole garment shrivel under your iron.
Hopefully these tips will get you through the winter sport season with your sports kits intact, and remember, if you want to add our SOAP laundry service to your regular clean, you can just leave it all to us.