12 Summer Stains – and How to Treat them

| | Updated:

This post is sponsored by Clorox.

It's summer!

I've always liked the idea of summer, and all things hot.

How to treat 12 common summer stains In our family, summer is the season of rolling in the grass and plowing through the sand. The season of smiles and messy food and vibrant colors.

Summer vibes of a 6-year-old

When it comes to our clothes, though, those last two don't always mesh well. Things get sloppy real quick, and we find ourselves changing and washing and switching up outfits fairly often. I'm pretty much the queen of laundry (self-designated title, but I feel like it fits since we average at least a full load every day).

Laundry stains made by a toddler

With four boys, things get messy. Really, really, really messy.

Barbecue sauce laundry stains in the making

A favorite summer stop of ours is a local drive-in diner where we go for chili dogs, tots and shakes.

4-year-old eating a chili dog

That's a serious trifecta of a stain situation, with meat sauce and grease and chocolate-dairy globs all rolled into one.

How to treat 12 common summer stains

Rolled straight into my 2-year-old's shirt because he “dooos it hisself, mama!”

6-year-old making summer stains with a chili dog

With the little dude now insisting that he consumes the giant Coney dogs unassisted just like his big brothers, this summer eatery is a laundry nightmare in the making. Or is it.

Pretreating a stain with Clorox 2

On our last trip, I had just run errands so I thought to grab my pre-treater from the trunk and get it on those food stains right away. We're working with Clorox to share their Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster – it's a total summer stain must-have! – made for a moment such as this. You're not supposed to let it sit for more than 5-10 minutes, so the timing worked out perfectly for me to plop it right in the wash when we got home (they also have an on-the-go pen for those times when you don't happen to have pre-treater in your trunk). The brand's resident laundry expert is so renowned for her fabric care knowledge that she's nicknamed “Dr. Laundry,” I kid you not. She gave me some tips to pass along for the most common summer stains!

Squash Those Summer Stains

  • Grass: Pre-soak for 30 minutes or more in warm water with a powder detergent containing enzymes. Then, pre-treat colors with Clorox 2 and launder as usual with your favorite detergent on the hottest recommended setting for your fabric.
  • Mud: Remove excess mud, rinse with water, and pre-treat with Clorox 2. Add Clorox 2 to your detergent and wash on highest recommended setting.
  • Watermelon, berries, barbecue sauce, mustard, popsicles, soda: Blot gently if necessary, then rinse immediately with cold water and pre-treat with Clorox 2 before washing on the hottest recommended setting with more Clorox 2 added to your detergent.
  • Ketchup: Scrape away excess ketchup, rinse with cool water from back-to-front, rub detergent into the stain and let sit for 5-10 minutes before laundering as usual with detergent and added Clorox 2.
  • Barbecue sauce: Pre-treat with Clorox 2 and wash in hot water with detergent and 1/2 cup of Clorox 2. Before drying, check that the stain has lifted. If not, wash again.
  • Burger drip: Blot. Don't run water on the stain! Pre-treat with liquid laundry or dish detergent before washing in the hottest recommended water with detergent and Clorox 2.
  • Sweat: Pre-treat with liquid dishwashing detergent, then wash on hot with detergent and Clorox 2. Air-dry to prevent any remaining stains from changing colors.
  • Sunscreen: Blot gently, then pre-treat with liquid dishwashing detergent. Rinse and repeat with Clorox 2 before washing with detergent and Clorox 2.

The above directions are for colors. For whites, Clorox® Regular Bleach can help brighten, whiten and remove stains. Simply sort, add detergent, add 1/2 cup of bleach to wash, let pre-soak for 10 minutes and then wash.

Favorite toddler shirt after washing with Clorox 2

I followed Dr. Laundry's instructions and I'm happy to say that our chili dog outing didn't damage our clothes. We jetted home right after getting the Clorox 2 on the stains and chucked Minion's shirt in hot water at the 10-minute mark with 1/2 cup of Clorox 2 added to our detergent. Clorox 2 is best for colors or whites that have spandex, while Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel is the best pre-treater I've tried for non-spandexy whites and Clorox® Regular Bleach is the best laundry add-in for non-spandexy whites. The trick to this Clorox 2 is to:

  1. Apply it directly to the stain and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Wash in the hottest water possible while the pre-treater is still wet.
  3. Air-dry so you don't heat the stain into the fabric if it's not completely removed the first time through the wash.

Clorox 2 is actually known for being successful at lifting dried-in stains, which is a pretty unheard-of feat!

How to treat 12 common summer stains

Arm yourself with Clorox 2 (they also have a Free and Clear formula without perfumes and dyes for sensitive skin) and print off that quick checklist above so you know exactly how to handle stains when they happen – it really does make a difference. When you pair Clorox 2 with your favorite detergent, you can actually remove 4X more stains and brighten 2X more than using detergent alone.

2-year-old acting like a spazz and looking like a ninja in mom's cardigan

And then, as I always say, let them play! Embrace summer activities and stains. Remember that the important thing right now is creating summer memories that will last a lifetime. There's no need to fear stains, so you can totally embrace ALL the messiness. Having the know-how to get their clothes to last through the season is just a cool added bonus.

12 common summer laundry stains - and how to be ready for them!

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for treating summer stains?


Try this Easy Cat Toy Hack for a Clutter-Free Home

I Failed at Breastfeeding my Fourth Child, and he’s Healthy Anyway