How to Tackle Tough Summer Stains

Barbecues are fun, but ketchup drips and sweat stains can make summer the worst season for laundry. We asked members of our Generation Good Community to share their best tips on tackling tough summer stains. Over 500 parents weighed in. Here's what you had to say:

Choose the right stain remover for the job:

You’ve tried it all — from store-bought solutions to grandma’s secret recipe. These are the stain removers our Generation Good parents rely on. 

  • Make a paste with baking soda and a little warm water. Scrub into fresh stains.
  • Dab greasy food stains with a gentle dish soap. A few drops can help lift oily messes. Just don't overdo it or you'll have a bubble party!
  • Remove “organic” stains like blood with hydrogen peroxide (try our peroxide-based Chlorine Free Bleach!) Pour directly onto the stain and blot with a clean rag. 
  • Saturate stinky stains with a mix of vinegar and water. The vinegar can help remove odors (and won’t leave shirts smelling like pickles). 
  • Tackle tough stains like grass, sweat, and berries with Seventh Generation laundry stain remover. It has triple enzymes to fight even your worst messes. Plus, it’s made for sensitive skin. 

Treat stains before they sink in:

Generation Good parents agree that treating spills and splashes as soon as possible is the most important step to prevent permanent stains. 

  • Scrub soiled spots with stain remover and an old toothbrush. The bristles are gentle enough to lift out dirt and grime without ruining fabrics. 
  • Soak, soak, soak.  Soaking clothes in cold water until wash time can keep stains from setting. 
  • Keep an empty bucket in the laundry sink for soaking stained clothes. Bypass the laundry basket and toss items directly in the bucket. 
  • Don’t throw muddy clothes straight in the washer — do this first: 
    “Kids love to play in the mud — and the wetter it is, the better it is. When it's time to wash those muddy jeans, do your best to brush off all of the loose mud. Then soak the garment for ten minutes in a solution of one tablespoon baking soda, a fingertip of Seventh Generation detergent and a gallon of warm water. Lightly brush the stain to move and suspend the soil. Squeeze the solution through the fabric. Repeat as needed. Wash as usual." -Ivette Z.
  • Dab dribbles with a napkin and water when you’re on the go. This will keep spots from setting until you get home. 

Wash and dry:

These easy tricks from our Community can help your laundry come out of the wash looking like new — even if you’ve been playing in the mud. 

  • Skip the chlorine bleach, since it can break down fabrics. Use a detergent that contains an oxygen bleach instead. 
  • Avoid putting stained items in the dryer — the heat can set stains. Take advantage of the nice weather and hang clothes outside to dry.
  • Harness solar power to fade stains on white and light fabrics (including cloth diapers): 
    "We use the sun to treat a lot of our stains! It's amazing what a few hours outside will do!" -Jennifer O.
  • Stash detergent packs in a resealable bag for summer travel. They’re pre-measured, easy to pack, and powdered packs won’t explode or leak. 
  • Don’t spend your summer stressing about stains. Keep a pile of "play clothes" on hand for messy summer fun.

What are your tips for tackling tough summer stains? Join Generation Good and jump in on the conversation.