A few years ago on a trip to Block Island, Rhode Island, I went for a walk along a hill in the early evening, looking out over the ocean. The sun was getting lower and the sky was still luminously blue. I bought lemonade and a slice of watermelon from a nearby food truck, ate it on the highest part of the hill, then sprawled out on the grass, flat on my back, and blissfully thought, “This is peak summer.” I also thought: “Did I just get a grass stain my white shirt?”
Unfortunately, many of our favorite carefree summer activities are likely to leave us with bright green grass stains on our clothes. In anticipation of many more picnics and lawn games to come before summer’s through, I tested out common DIY solutions to treat grass stains. I tried four pre-treatment methods and compared the results after laundering to a sample that was washed with detergent only.
Here’s the good news: All five solutions—which I discovered on WikiHow, PopSugar, and Mother Nature Network—worked amazingly well, though one solution worked much better than others. Here are the results in order of “pretty darn good” to “can’t tell that you spent all day in a field.”
5. Rubbing alcohol
The method: Generously blot the stain with rubbing alcohol, air dry, and then rinse with cold water. Cover the stain with some detergent and scrub it in vigorously (I used an old toothbrush). Let sit for 10 minutes and rinse in cool water again.
The verdict: After seeing rubbing alcohol touted online as a foolproof solution for grass stains—something about the solvent breaking down the organic material—I had high hopes. So color me surprised when this was the least effective method out of the bunch. It still removed much of the stain, but left a faint, but visible pale yellow splotch behind.
4. Regular detergent
The method: Add your usual detergent to the stain, brush in vigorously with a brush, let sit for about 10 minutes, and rinse with cool water.
The verdict: This test was meant to serve as a comparison to the four DIY pre-treatments, but good ol’ detergent (like Persil or Tide) and some scrubbing worked well. It still left a small yellow spot, which is why it lands in fourth place.
3. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
The method: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste. Smooth it over the grass stain and let sit for about 30 minutes. Aggravate the paste with a brush and rinse with cool water, then work in detergent, let it sit, then rinse in cool water again.
The verdict: This solution made more of a mess than the others because the paste dried into a cake-y powder that gets everywhere when you start scrubbing with a brush. However, after the detergent scrub, it left only the slightest hint of yellow-green so I guess the results are worth it.
2. Hydrogen peroxide and dish soap
The method: Mix a bit of hydrogen peroxide with a few squirts of dish soap (no need to be super scientific about it). Soak the stain, let sit for about 30 minutes, then scrub and rinse in cool water. Add some more detergent, scrub, sit, and rinse.
The verdict: In terms of results, this method is tied with the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda method. It left only the tiniest shade of the grass stain, but it’s much less messy.
1. And the winner: vinegar
The method: Mix one part distilled white vinegar with one part water. Coat the stain, let sit (30 minutes worked well for me), scrub, and rinse in cool water. Then repeat the usual steps with the detergent: scrub, sit, and rinse.
The verdict: Though all of these solutions got about 95 percent of the stains, vinegar was by far the most effective way to remove grass stains. Once I was done laundering, the test cloth was bright white again—no sign of green or yellow at all. Plus, it’s an inexpensive solution and the ingredient is likely to be be in your pantry already.
As always, test these solutions in a small unnoticeable area first, particularly with colorful clothes and never on any delicates or dry-clean-only fabrics. And be sure to only use cold water with grass stains—heat and hot water will set them instead.
Now that you’re armed with these five simple solutions for grass stains, feel free to somersault down hills and lay around in the park to your heart’s content. Yes, even in your white tees.
This post was updated in May 2022 with more details on how to clean grass stains—just in time for summer!
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