How to Remove Grass Stains from Your Clothes and Shoes, According to Experts

Updated: May 09, 2024

Thanks to these expert tips on how to remove grass stains from clothes and shoes, the grass really IS greener on the other side. You're welcome.

You may have heard that grass stains are permanent, but we’re here to tell you that not all hope is lost if you spot a grass stain on your clothes or shoes. When learning how to remove grass stains, the key is to utilize expert cleaning tips and tricks that actually work. In other words, don’t go tossing your favorite grass-stained apparel just yet!

“Grass causes stains and can be difficult to remove because grass is rich in chlorophyll, the dye that gives grass its green color. That chlorophyll can also act as a dye to fabric,” explains Jennifer Ahoni, a senior scientist at Tide.

While grass stains can become permanent if they are allowed to set, they’re totally treatable if you can get to them in time, adds Melissa Rodriguez, cleaning expert and founder of Bright Home Cleaning SVCS. Long story short: Your best bet for nixing grass stains from jeans, shoes—or any type of fabric for that matter—is to treat it as soon as possible.

We spoke in depth with both Ahoni and Rodriguez for their best advice on how to remove grass stains from shoes, jeans and any other type of clothing with ease. For more help, read through our general advice on how to remove stains.

About the experts

  • Jennifer Ahoni is a principal scientist for Proctor & Gamble’s Tide. She specializes in fabric care science and also has a background in research and development.
  • Melissa Rodriguez is a cleaning expert and founder of Bright Home Cleaning SVCS, which services the eastern Tri-State region as well as Pennsylvania.

Reviewed for accuracy by: Mary Marlowe Leverette, a highly regarded fabric-care, stain-removal and housekeeping expert with more than 40 years of experience.

Grass stain removal methods

Baking soda

“Baking soda is a miracle cleaning product—and nontoxic too,” Rodriguez says, which is why it’s her secret weapon for how to remove grass stains from shoes and clothes. To get rid of grass stains with baking soda, mix it with hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of dish soap and let the stain soak for a few hours, she says.

Detergent

Grass stains are a type of enzymatic stain, which means it’s a stain that results from proteins. (Blood stains are also considered enzymatic.) “Your best bet is to tackle them using a liquid detergent that contains enzymes to break down the staining components of grass stains,” Ahoni says.

She suggests pre-treating grass stains with liquid detergent and letting them sit for 20 minutes before washing them in the warmest water tolerable, according to the clothing’s care instructions. Before drying the item, check to see if the grass stain is still visible. If yes, skip the dryer—the heat can set the stain—and repeat the above steps.

Oxygenated cleaners

Oxygenated stain removers, such as OxiClean, can work wonders on grass stains on colored fabrics. “Mix OxiClean with water to create a paste and rub it on the stain,” Rodriguez says. “Or, if the fabric is white, you can use bleach mixed with warm water.”

For both, let the solution sit on the stain for a few hours before washing as usual. “If the stain is still there, do not put it in the dryer [because] the heat can reinforce the stain,” Rodriguez notes.

Hydrogen peroxide

This household staple works wonders when it comes to removing grass stains from clothes. “Hydrogen peroxide is [another type of] oxidizing agent that can replace bleach,” Rodriguez explains.

To treat stains with hydrogen peroxide, Rodriguez says to mix one part hydrogen peroxide with three parts cool water and rub into the stain along with some baking soda. The hydrogen peroxide and baking soda interact and bubble up, helping to lift the grass dye out of the fibers.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can work in some scenarios, but Rodriguez says it should be used as a last resort versus your first option. “I recommend trying other solutions first, since alcohol can damage fabrics,” she says. That said, if you’re trying this grass stain removal technique, be sure to test it on an inconspicuous spot first.

To clean grass stains using rubbing alcohol, apply it to a cloth or paper towel and gently blot the stained area to lift out the dye, then rinse the fabric thoroughly. Fun fact: Rubbing alcohol can also help get rid of ink stains.

How to get grass stains out of jeans

how to get grass stains out of clothesAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.com

Washing your jeans is one of the best ways to deal with these stubborn stains, according to Ahoni. Here’s her advice on how to get grass stains out of jeans in the wash.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Enzymatic liquid detergent
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush

Directions

  1. Pretreat the grass stain with a liquid detergent containing enzymes. Pour on detergent to cover the grass stain and let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Next, massage the detergent onto the stain. “Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help spread the detergent into the fibers of the garment or rub the fabric together gently,” Ahoni says.
  3. Toss the item into the wash as usual. Ahoni says it’s fine if you wash a grass-stained item with a full load. “Use the warmest water possible as recommended by the garment care label,” she adds.
  4. Before putting your jeans in the dryer, check to see if the stain remains. If it does, hold off on drying and repeat the above steps.

Pro tip: If you prefer a DIY route, Rodriguez swears by a homemade stain removal solution for getting grass stains out of jeans. “A combination of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap with a little elbow grease and soaking works every time,” she says.

How to get grass stains out of jeans without washing them

For times when you’re on the go or otherwise can’t launder your grass-stained jeans right away, having the right tools can help.

“Keep a stain stick pen on hand in case of emergencies—especially if you have children!” Rodriguez says. “Rub the stick on the stained area with some water. Treat the stain immediately when you get home.”

How to remove grass stains from shoes

When grass stains happen on shoes, there’s no need to kick your favorite pair to the curb. These tips for how to get grass stains out of shoes—whether they’re white shoes, leather shoes or even suede shoes—will help you save your solemates.

“Check the care label on your sneakers for the best guidance on cleaning them and to ensure that they are machine washable. Many shoes made from canvas and cotton are,” Ahoni says. For shoes that can be thrown into the wash, she suggests this approach:

Supplies you’ll need

  • Dry, soft brush
  • Enzymatic liquid detergent
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush

Directions

  1. Use a dry soft brush to remove any excess dirt and mud from shoes first.
  2. Pretreat using a liquid detergent containing enzymes, and let the detergent set for 20 minutes. If needed, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help spread the detergent and rub it into the stain.
  3. Remove the shoelaces and insoles (hand-wash these separately) and place the shoes in a mesh garment bag, Ahoni says. Then wash them on a delicate/gentle cycle in cold water.
  4. If a stain remains, repeat this process before letting the shoes air-dry completely before wearing again.

Removing grass stains from non-washable shoes

You can’t toss every type of shoe into the laundry or immerse it in water, since this can damage the structure. If your favorite fancy kicks require a more delicate approach, you’ve still got options for removing those stubborn grass stains.

Leather shoes

“Mix equal parts water and white vinegar to treat leather shoe stains,” Rodriguez says. After they’ve dried, “buff scuffs away with a wet cloth dipped into baking soda. Wipe your shoes off, then buff them once more after they’ve dried,” she says.

Suede shoes

Before ever wearing suede shoes, they should be pre-treated with a suede protectant spray to help them resist grass and other stains. “If you do have some staining on suede shoes, lightly rub an emery board to gently buff stains away,” Rodriguez advises. Mary Marlowe Leverette adds, “A more gentle method to remove scuffs and stains is to use an art gum eraser to clean suede.”

White sneakers

Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and wipe the stains away, Rodriguez suggests. “If that doesn’t work, you can also make a paste of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water, and gently rub it on the sneakers with a scrub brush, allowing it to absorb and sit for at least 30 minutes.” Rinse with water and repeat until the stain is removed.

Grass stain FAQs

Does baking soda and vinegar remove grass stains?

Yes, you can use a DIY mixture of baking soda and vinegar to remove grass stains from both clothing and shoes. Baking soda reacts with the vinegar to help oxygenate the stain, bubbling up and effectively lifting the chlorophyll dye. Our cleaning experts even suggest adding a little dish soap to the mix for especially stubborn stains.

Does Dawn remove grass stains?

According to the cleaning pros we spoke to, dish soap alone may not be the best approach for removing grass stains from clothing and shoes. It can, however, be used in conjunction with enzymatic liquid detergents, oxygenated cleaning agents and DIY stain removers consisting of baking soda and vinegar.

Why trust us?

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Maryn Liles tapped her experience writing about clothing stain removal, and then Mary Marlowe Leverette, a fabric-care, stain-removal and laundry expert with more than 40 years of industry experience, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We verify all facts and data, back them with credible sourcing and revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.

Sources:

  • Jennifer Ahoni, principal scientist for Proctor & Gamble’s Tide; interviewed January 2021
  • Melissa Rodriguez, cleaning expert and founder of Bright Home Cleaning SVCS; interviewed January 2021