Blood, sweat and tears – and grass stains

Children seem to attract muck – well, certainly my children do. The youngest has only to look at a muddy puddle before he might as well have rolled in it.

They play football too, and lots of it, so at least three times a week I have very muddy kit to deal with.

Some of it is white, including the shorts. WHITE. I ask you. No person who thinks white is a sensible colour for the kind of sports kit which is guaranteed to get grass-stained or muddy could possibly be the person in his/her household responsible for laundry.

Many years ago I used to be responsible for the laundry of Other People’s Children, including a whole team’s worth of cricket whites. It was in that job that I learned about Swarfega.

What you’re looking for is the Swarfega in a red tub with a green lid.

I found this image on Wilko’s website and you can often find it there and in other “cheap shops” such as Quality Save, B&M Bargains, Poundland and so on. I really begrudge paying full price for it in Halfords or the supermarket but you can usually find it there too.

It’s designed for de-greasing hands – mechanics love it. It shifts engine oil as though you were rinsing off icing sugar. Grass stains in particular are oily stains. Treating before you wash means you won’t cook the stain in.

So, to work. Here is a typical pair of shorts after a football session, then liberally plastered in Swarfega.

muddy shorts

swarfega shorts

It smells unpleasant and has a texture somewhere between shower gel and jam. Persevere! Once the stain is thoroughly covered, and you don’t need to scrub particularly, throw in its normal wash. In this instance I forgot and put it in a quick wash, but it still came out like this:

clean shorts

There’s a slight shadow of filth, yes, but by golly it’s better than when it went in. The remaining stain completely disappeared on the washing line.

Swarfega and sunshine remove just about every stain I have come across in my parenting career, including blood, grass, gravy, blackcurrant: the lot. Sunshine also zaps any bacteria lingering in your wash. I try to wash at 30 where possible, but when there are bugs whizzing round school it’s vaguely reassuring that at least they can’t cling to the clothes.

A last word before I go, relating to blood stains. I’m afraid they are pretty much inevitable with active children! Blood cooks – maybe you’ve tried black pudding! – which means that you cannot wash it out in a hot wash. Anything bloody needs to be thoroughly soaked in cold (not warm) water before treating, then washed at no more than 30 degrees. If the garment needs it you can then do a warmer wash later, but if you wash it above body temperature you risk cooking the bloodstain into the fabric and it will then never come out.

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