Tackling Stains on Polyester-Spandex Blends and Other Common Sportswear Materials
As a mother with active kids who love playing golf and tennis, I understand the struggle of keeping their golf clothes and tennis clothes clean and presentable. Not to mention, without continuous upkeep - its likely that these pieces fall apart faster than they would otherwise. The common polyester and spandex blend in sports attire provides comfort, flexibility, and breathability - but it can pose a challenge when it comes to stain removal (like many fabrics). Whether it's dirt, grass stains, or the remnants of post-game snacks, here's a comprehensive guide on how to clean pesky stains and keep your little athletes looking sharp, just like these two fellas.
Materials You'll Need
Before diving into the cleaning process, gather the following materials:
- Mild Detergent: Choose a gentle detergent to preserve the fabric's quality and durability.
- White Vinegar: Excellent for breaking down stains and odors.
- Baking Soda: A natural abrasive, baking soda is a staple stain removal product in my household (for clothes, grease stains on dishes, my teeth...).
- Soft Bristle Brush: Ideal for scrubbing without damaging the fabric - a toothbrush works great for small stains, but a larger one may need to be purchased for big bad stains.
- Cold Water: Hot water can set stains, so always use cold water to start your cleaning process.
Prepping to Clean - Simple Steps
Pre-Treat Stains: Before tossing the clothes into the washing machine, take a few moments to pre-treat stains. Heres some quick tips on pre-treating different types of common stains on our little ones who love to play:
- Dirt and Mud Stains: Allow the mud to dry completely. Gently brush off the dried mud. Pre-soak the stained area in cold water. Ring out extra water.
- Grass Stains: Mix equal parts white vinegar and cold water. Soak the stain for 15-30 minutes. Gently rub the stained area with a soft brush, and then ring out extra water.
- Food Stains: Scrape off excess food with the edge of a spoon, or blunt knife if you have your hands on one (preferable the non serrated edge of a butter knife). Rinse the stain from the back side of the item with cold water to avoid pushing it deeper into the fabric. Apply a mixture of mild detergent and water to the stain, and then ring out the water using your hands.
After pre-treating the stains, it's time to machine wash! The easiest part, but it can still be a little tricky, and make sure to always always use cold water when dealing with stains! I've made the mistake many times on my own clothes, and trust me, it's worth the work to get pesky stains out. Anyways, here's some steps for when, for example, your little girl has a big ol' distracting stain on her favorite girls golf skort:
- Set the Washing Machine: Use a gentle or delicate cycle. Wash in cold water to prevent shrinkage and color fading.
- Add Vinegar: Pour half a cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser to eliminate odors. You can also use diluted vinegar directly over the clothes if you have a top loading washing machine, but make sure to put it in the fabric softener area if you have a side loading machine.
- Use a Mesh Bag: Place delicate sports clothes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash. If you have bulky items - shoes, items with large pieces of metal, etc. - this can also help protect other clothing items as well as the interior of your washing machine. I cannot even begin to describe how many dents I have in my machine from tossing my shoes directly in there (don't worry - they didn't shrink or melt!!)
- Air Dry: Avoid using the dryer, as high heat can damage the fabric and again - it helps set stains! Instead, opt for air drying. Of which you can do many ways, but depending on the product, one way might be better than another:
- Lay Flat: Lay small items, like accessories and infant and toddler clothes - like onesies, flat on a surface that can withstand wet products, or over a clean and dry towel. Make sure to flip the item after a few hours to ensure both sides dry evenly without getting "musty."
- Avoid Direct Sunlight: If you have a clothes line, or like to hand items like golf dresses and boys golf polos outside on a hanger to dry - try to avoid direct sunlight. It can speed up the fading of colors on the items, and unless you want faded colors, that wouldn't be ideal!
- Act Quickly: The sooner the better! The longer you wait, the more difficult the stain may become. Especially if its a grease or oil stain!
- Check Care Labels: My advice might not be 100% applicable. Check the tags on the inside of your items - unless it's cut out, there's almost always a care guide on one of them. If not, you can always browse the web for documented care guides from the company you ordered from.
- Avoid Fabric Softeners: We're using vinegar for reasons outside of their wonderful qualities. Fabric softeners can leave a residue on polyester-spandex blends, affecting their moisture-wicking properties. I stopped using fabric softener years ago, actually - and to be frank, I don't really see a difference or feel a difference in any of my clothes. Maybe I'm ignorant in this - but at the very least, please opt for vinegar when dealing with stains and sweat wicking products.
Hopefully, your children's golf and tennis clothes remain in top-notch condition using some of these tips and tricks. They'll be ready for the next round of sports adventures, so long as we act quickly and follow garment labels ;). With a little care and attention, you'll be able to tackle any stain and keep your young athletes looking their best!