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Grass stains are a combination of organic proteins such as chlorophyll, xanthophylls and carotenoids, which are all compounds that are well known for being colourful (carotenoids are what make carrots orange and bananas yellow). Part of the reason that grass stains are so stubborn is that the pigments they contain are so similar to natural fabrics such as cotton, silk and wool that the stain can penetrate and bond with the fibres.
This is bad news for anyone who likes to be out in the countryside and who also likes to wear pale colours. Even more bad news for any parents whose children enjoy playing on grass – we pity David Beckham’s Mum and the trouble she must have had in his youth. So what should she have used to get rid of those green splodges?
The first thing to say is that we hope she NEVER tried to use an alkali like ammonia to get rid of a grass stain. Instead of removing the stain, using an alkaline detergent, ammonia, or a degreaser can make the staining permanent.
Instead a good stain remover that most households will have already in their cupboards is white vinegar. To use it to get rid of a grass stain simply soak the affected are in vinegar for an hour and then wash and dry as you usually would (although perhaps with a more perfumed wash than normal…).
Baking soda is another good stain remover that is close at hand in a lot of homes, and if vinegar on it’s own hasn’t managed to remove an especially stubborn grass stain, then using baking soda as well should help. The best method for baking soda stain-removal is to add a little bit of water to baking soda until it has made quite a thick paste. Apply the paste to the stain and then scrub over it with a brush that you keep dipping into vinegar. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and fizz. This should lift/bubble away the stain.
Banana oil is one of the less well-known grass stain removers. It’s also known as amyl acetate and can be found in pharmacies and some health food shops. To use it you simply need to put it directly onto the stain and rub it gently. Afterwards rinse it off with hot water.
Summer may be coming, and grass stains are inevitable no matter how careful we are, but hopefully these stain removing tricks should help. The last thing to mention is that following any of these stain treatments the afflicted piece of clothing should of course be washed as normal using a good laundry detergent.