One of the real nightmares that baseball moms face is when they hear the coach say "We are going to be wearing white uniforms this year." Talk about going into full stress mode. The thought of looking out on the field and seeing their child's white uniform, especially the pants, with those glaring red clay stains standing out like a sore thumb is almost too much for a mom to bear.
As new and advanced fabrics are introduced as the latest uniform standard, the challenge of cleaning the difficult stains and odors associated with athletic competition increases. Well, there are some products and cleaning tips that can truly help clean these tough stains and add life to your child's uniform. Experienced baseball moms and professional equipment managers who clean uniforms for a living, have discovered a few universal "cleaning truths" that can make this process much easier and effective. So what can you do to really make the grass stains, the red clay stains, mud, blood and even field paint go away and keep that uniform looking new all season long?
Don't Delay. Set-in stains are almost impossible to get out. The longer a uniform sits and waits to be cleaned, the tougher the challenge to get out the dirt and stains. Always try to start the cleaning process as soon as possible after the uniform comes off the athlete. A pair of baseball pants thrown in the trunk of the car for several days before cleaning is just asking for trouble. I have talked to dozens of collegiate equipment managers and they all will tell you that the first thing they do when they get back to the equipment room after a game is to put every uniform through the cleaning process. If a uniform is improperly cleaned and stains are not taken out in the initial cleaning, the problem is compounded and the set-in stain might be with the uniform forever.
Presoak: For really tough stains like grass and red clay, it may be necessary to presoak the uniform in water, putting them in a utility sink or tub. By simply rinsing off the uniform to remove as much as the dirt as possible, you make the rest of the cleaning process more likely to do the trick. Plain, warm - not hot - water is usually sufficient but some people like to add a little laundry detergent and/or some baking soda to the water. We recommend soaking the uniform for at least an hour, leaving it in longer is fine and will not hurt the cause.
Use A Pre-Spot Stain Remover: No matter how good your laundry detergent is, you will most likely still need to use a good stain remover to get added "lift" on the tough stains. Whatever your choice, be sure to select a product that is safe to use, won't harm colors and is friendly to the environment. There are chemicals that can clean just about anything but you want to stay away from products that are potentially toxic and can harm the environment, not to mention harming the material to be cleaned. Most stain removers should be applied by spraying directly on the stains (don't be bashful, spray liberally) and letting soak in for at least a few minutes before putting the uniform in the washing machine. Some people choose to rub in the stain remover or lightly scrub the stained area after the stain remover is applied. This is fine but remember to be careful not to be too aggressive so as to damage the fabric.
Washing: After treating the uniform with the stain remover, it is time to put it through the wash cycle in your washing machine. In most cases, using your normal favorite laundry detergent is sufficient for the job. When possible, washing the uniform alone, apart from your other clothes, is the best way to take care of the uniform. Using cool or warm water is always best - Never use hot water!
Heat Is Not Neat: If possible, try to always refrain from drying an athletic uniform in a dryer. High heat can cause many problems like fading colors, shrinking the material and setting in stains. If you can hang the uniform to air dry in an area away from direct sunlight, you will help the uniform to last longer and look better.
There are many factors and variables that can affect the cleaning process. The content of the water (soft or hard, alkalinity, ph, etc.), the make-up of the soil or clay, the type of fabric used in the uniform, the application of the cleaning materials, etc. There is no perfect science to the cleaning process because of the various factors involved, but the tips and product recommendations that we have shared with you are a great start to having the best opportunity to have your child looking their best on the field!
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