As a child, you no doubt drove your parents crazy by coming home caked in mud, which you then likely also left all over the floor and furniture. Kids (and pets!) love to play outside and maybe yours have already returned the favor by now? Wherever it ends up, mud can be tough to get out of anything and present a real challenge when it comes to clothes.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can successfully get rid of mud stains without having to replace your favorite shirt, pants or sofa. Unlike many stains, it is a good strategy to let mud dry before you try to clean it. So wait until it has dried to the point where you can scrape some of it off before trying the suggestions that follow.
1. Get a scraper
Believe it or not, there will be times when letting the mud dry out will be enough. Use a dull blade or similar instrument that will scrape off the mud without damaging the article of clothing, carpeting or furniture in question. Once you have removed the loose mud, examine the area. If there is no residual stain, you got off lucky!
2. Vinegar and Dish Detergent
White vinegar is a wonderful cleaning agent for many things around your home, and is also an effective way to get rid of mud stains. Let the mud dry and then brush it off. Mix together a solution of four cups warm water with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of dish detergent.
Soak the clothing in this solution for 15-20 minutes and check the state of the stain; repeat, if needed. Make sure that you use white vinegar or you could end up with yet another stain to deal with.
3. Wash it up
Believe it or not, mud also sometimes comes off when you put clothing into a washing machine. However, we would recommend supplementing your regular laundry detergent with one of the stain removal products on the market. Follow the directions on the packaging for the recommended amount to include and the particular washing machine setting to use.
4. Mop it up
When you get a mud spill on the floor, it is actually one of the easier surfaces to clean up. The standard vinegar/dish detergent/water mix that we suggested above works well here. Soak a mop in the mixture, clean the area in question, rinse the dirt off of the mop, and repeat as needed.
If this is a cement floor in your basement, there is little chance you can cause damage, so feel free to add some bleach to the mixture. However, once you have scrubbed the area clean, make sure to give it another going over with some water, to ensure that pets or children do not come into contact with any remaining bleach.
5. Vacuum power
In this case, you can use a vacuum cleaner to collect any dried mud before tackling the cleaning process. For any stain that remains, mix some laundry or dishwashing detergent and water and blot the area with that mixture using a paper towel. Repeat as necessary and then rinse the area with again water to remove any remaining soap.
6. Scrub it good
Never throw out old toothbrushes; they can have a second life as handy household cleaning devices, used for many different purposes.
Dip one of your old brushes in some laundry detergent (not bleach!) and rub the dirty area using a circular movement. Carefully rinse off the area with some water and then blot it with a paper towel. If some staining remains, make sure the toothbrush is clean and then repeat the process until the stain is gone.
7. Clap it out
If you are a runner, you know that mud-soaked shoes are inevitable, but cleaning them is not as difficult as it looks. Once the mud has dried, take the shoes outside and repeatedly bang the soles together; this will cause much of the dirt to fly off.
For eliminating any remaining mud, dip an old toothbrush in our standby cleaning mixture and scrub away. All of that said, if you plan on wearing the shoes again in a similarly muddy area quite soon, it might be easier for the time being to just put them in a plastic bag before entering your home or car.
8. Sponge it all
If your kids or pets have been particularly wild on that day, you could end up having mud on your walls. In this case, dip a clean sponge in our recommended cleaning mixture and rub the areas in question using a circular motion. Periodically dip the sponge into clean water or rinse it in the sink, so you can clean off any dirt and soap and get a good idea of how successful your efforts have been.
This also works with most wallpaper, though we would advise testing it out on a small patch first, just to be sure, and also recommend not oversaturating the surface with water.
9. Pay up
Some clothing is so delicate that trying to clean it ourselves can make it even worse. If you don’t feel confident about trying our suggestions on a top or pair or pants that you hold near and dear, play it safe and stop by your local drycleaners.
Trust us when we say that they have seen – and successfully cleaned – far worse than the mess you are presenting them with. There are also cleaners who will come into your home and work on any rug or piece of furniture affected.
Mud is a particular annoyance because it not only stains shoes and clothing, but will also transfer from them on to other surfaces, leaving you with twice as much to clean! While it can be challenging and take some time, a muddy stain is rarely reason enough to give up on something.
Follow the steps we have suggested and if you feel that the item in question is too precious to risk further damage, take it to a dry-cleaning establishment for some professional attention. Now go enjoy the puddles, and don’t be afraid to get a little muddy!