How to Get Turf Stains Out of Baseball Pants

How to Get Turf Stains Out of Baseball Pants

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Once upon a time, dark green grass stains were the only nemesis of parents of young baseball players ~ and their pearly white playing pants. Today, add the blotchy black blemishes from artificial turf, and the garment-washing chore became even more challenging. Luckily, now there are ample resources to learn how to get turf stains out of baseball pants.

The best ways to attack stains on baseball pants from turf depends on which kind, grass or artificial. Starting with that information, some of the most popular methods include serious scrubbing before washing, pre-soaking, applying stain removal products, using rubbing alcohol strategically, or using some other “secret” ingredients or process.,

The Word Turf and Baseball

Older definitions of the word “turf” focused solely on grass and the surface below including the roots. However, modern turf definitions include both natural fake grass. This is important because baseball uniform stains from grass and artificial turf differ, and often require different chemicals or approaches to clean from baseball pants.

Plant stains are tough to deal with because they are composed of proteins, which we’ll explain in detail below. Stains from fake turf come not from the plastic blades, but from the newfangled mixture that manufacturers put under the fake blades to make the turf perform more like mother nature’s version.

Not the AstroTurf of 1966

Original artificial turf, usually called Astroturf back in the day, was created much like carpets inside homes. It was a layer of mesh-like material, with the fake grass blades weaved in. Then, underneath, a padding was laid down between the fake grass and concrete of stadiums, so the surface has the give that human legs are used to.

Over time, sports leagues learned that the padding would squish down, or even erode away, placing their very high-paid athletes in peril due to the impacts to joints from landing hard on what essentially is just concrete. Many pro baseball players suffered greatly from artificial turf, such as Andre Dawson.

Today, under the fake blades are usually small chips of rubber, looking like black sand only with larger flakes. They are not placed underneath the layer or artificial grass, but sprinkled on top so they settle down to act like dirt in terms of compression. Modern fake turf is much softer on the landing.

Those squishy little black things are what cause a different kind of stain to baseball pants, which changes the cleaning strategy. Let’s examine both types of turf stains.

Grass Stains: Eternal Enemy of Baseball Pants

Grass stains on your little player’s baseball pants are inevitable, no matter how hard he or she plays. A heck of a lot of things can force a kid in uniform to drop to a knee (or knees), like tripping, being bumped into, etc. Accidental grass turf stains on the rear end are rare but they do happen.

Almost any player who hustles will get grass stains on the pants’ knees, some worse than others. Some will do it every time he or she wears the pants. Some players stick around the baseball complex after games to play with friends ~ for hours, running, falling, and sliding on grass or dirt ~ and that might be worse for stains than single-game play.

Grass turf stains are hard to remove because they are what are called protein stains (as are those caused by blood, vomit, and eggs). This means grass entrenches or implants its chemicals very deep into the fabric.

Stains from grass contain microscopic chemicals like chlorophyll (which plants use to absorb sunlight for energy), and carotenoids, and they are strongly pigmented (colored) green.

Grass stains penetrate the microscopic fibers, especially if they are natural fibers like cotton. The rubber/oil stains from artificial turf basically stick onto the fibers, but do not get embedded into them.

Artificial Turf Stains: New Enemy of White Baseball Pants

Baseball pants can be stained by any number of things, including the turf but also dirt, gum, candy, and even that black grease some players put under their eyes to reduce glare. Advances in the makeup of artificial turf added one more, and it’s rather significant.

Artificial turf stains are black, and are caused by what is called infill of tiny rubber pellets dropped to fall between all the fake grass blades. Rubber is based on petroleum (oil) so treat them just as you would to clean clothes used for working on cars. You need to cut through oil and grease.

So grass stains are caused by the blades (and sometimes the dirt beneath the blades); artificial turf stains are caused by material underneath the artificial blades.

Tips & Insight into Cleaning Turf Stains on Baseball Pants

So when the washing machine alone can’t do it, turn to advanced baseball pants cleaning methods. It will involve one or more of the following:

  • Traditional scrubbing, then washing
  • Wash the pants alone, and maybe add bleach
  • Using rubbing alcohol
  • Applying retail stain removers
  • Using personalized, custom cleaning mixtures

Consistently Do This

Whichever method you choose, note that there are common denominators in almost every suggestion for cleaning baseball pants:

  • Wash in cold water (except when scrubbing, when warm water with soap is useful)
  • Never use an electric laundry dryer when even a smidgen of stain is visible; if you see any hint of the stain, wash again

Heat is known to “burn in” stains, that is, to make them “set,” which basically means change from liquid to solid. When this happens it is a lot harder to erase.

In general, avoid heat, especially the dryer, in caring for baseball pants. The intense heat of dryers also is not good for the threads and seams that hold pants together.

Also, do not wait to attack turf stains. The longer you wait, the more opportunity the chemicals involved in the staining can establish a firm grip on the tiny fibers of baseball pants. Not good.

With that, let’s examine each of the tactics you could engage to make your little player’s pants sparkling white again.

Then Pick 1 of These (or a Combination of Suggestions)

In no particular order, because parents (and older players) may prefer a traditional method like scrubbing hard, here are popular remedies to stains on baseball pants.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is fairly well known to apply to artificial turf stains. It’s an affordable and effective option, and a typical process might look like this:

  • Use a small bowl to make a 2-to-1 mix of water (2 parts) and rubbing alcohol (1 part).
  • Soak a rag or washcloth into the solution
  • Take the soaked rag or cloth to rub on the stains until they start to fade. Usually within minutes the stains disappear
  • Repeat if necessary

Hydrogen Peroxide

Many adults responsible for youth baseball pants turn to hydrogen peroxide, namely a mixture of it with quality liquid dish soap, to spray onto stains before scrubbing or washing. It’s not that simple, and involves a process, like:

  • Rinse baseball pants deeply in cold water; let it soak for minutes
  • Mix into a spray bottle hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap (2 parts peroxide to 1 part soap), and spray stains from any type of turf
  • After some time to let the mixture penetrate the fibers, scrub with a coarse sponge or tooth brush
  • Then use the Fels-Naptha soap bar to complete the cleaning process
  • When the pants are visibly white, run them through a washing machine like normal white clothes (except don’t use hot water)
  • If after the machine wash some stain is visible, do not place pants in the dryer. Try additional cleaning methods to finish the job.


Often, dirt gets mixed into the grass stain, and soaking can be effective to loosen everything up before scrubbing. You can finely chop up, or even use a cheese grater, on your favorite laundry cleaning soap to drop in warm water to soak pants for a half-hour before washing. (See below for our favorite soap bar for baseball uniform cleaning).

Soaking sometimes can clear the stain, but most often does not quite get it all. However, it certainly helps reduce the scrubbing workload.

Stain Removal Products

There is no magic fluid or secret product that will easily get rid of all turf stains on baseball pants. However, some of the following have been highly recommended by people:

Some stain removers actually remove stains, but many simply mask them on sporting uniforms.

Special Soap

The great soap bar mentioned above is the Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Bar. This affordable, longtime helper-of-moms has been whitening baseball pants for nearly 40 years now.

As with the stain removers, the soap is used as a pre-treatment for turf stains, especially artificial turf stains. The bar has a new formula designed to go after oil and grease stains, which essentially means the oil-based rubber infill of fake grass.

Washing and Hand Scrubbing

This old-fashioned method is tried and true, and is effective. It just takes time and elbow grease. Which not all adults have on a weekly basis.

Hand scrubbing is preferred by a lot of people for artificial turf stains, which can tend to be oil-like, or resemble skids or specks of melted rubber. It may be tedious, but fake grass stains are no joke!

Other Insights

Some parents use a mixture of vinegar and soda on baseball pants stains. Still others at one point of the process insist on using bleach. Be forewarned that over-using bleach, or even some stain removers, can be harmful to the pants. Even polyester pants are held together with tiny threads and seams, which can fail if exposed too often to strong chemicals.

Post-Wash Touch-Ups

A lot of people insist on drying baseball pants by setting them outside and letting the sun do the whitening work. Just leave white garments under sunshine for up to 3 hours, and let nature dry and whiten the pants.

After you’ve done all you can with one or more of the tips above, you can try to get the pants whiter by using Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover. While the product name aims at rust, the chemical actually includes a bluing agent that helps make white garments appear more white.

Final Words on Stains on Baseball Pants

The bottom line is, try some of the cleaning tips noted above, and see which works for you, both in terms of creating whiteness, as well as cost, and the energy involved (e.g. hand scrubbing).

Many parents insist on using the Fels-Naptha soap bars; others are fond of hydrogen peroxide, or even bleach. Each parent can figure out the best method depending on their individual needs.

Maybe they have more than 1 little player, and one of the tips above works well with multiple garments. Maybe they know most games will be on dark green grass and they will consider stain-cleaning methods accordingly. Experiment with the suggestions above, and here’s to the whitest baseball pants possible for your little ballplayer.

See Also:
Why do Minor League Teams Switch Affiliations?
Should the MLB Get Rid of the DH?
How to Clean a Baseball Cap with Cardboard Bills
Why Do People Wear Baseball Caps?