What makes a harmless blade of grass such a potent staining force? This article explains the science behind grass stain removal.
For most people, freshly mown grass is a sign of summer, of lazy evenings spent drinking iced drinks on the patio. It is linked closely with your childhood memories of fun and frolic, of tumbling in the grass and lying down on your back to look at the stars. Grass is comforting to walk on and the smell of it after a spell of rain is enchanting and soothing.
What is not so great is that grass can leave stubborn stains on your clothes. Whether you walk through a park during your lunch break or your children wrestle with their friends in the garden, grass always leaves its mark on clothing. You think it is harmless enough, so you put the clothes in the wash and hope for the best. Then you are surprised to discover that the stain has not even faded despite a hardy wash.
Why does grass stain your clothing?
To understand grass stains, it is important to understand the composition of grass. Its distinct green colour is the result of the presence of two compounds – chlorophyll and xanthophyll. Chlorophyll is a dye and nutrition processing compound, while xanthophyll is largely a dye. Together, these two (and many other micro compounds like carotenoids) give grass and leaves their distinct green colour.
However, grass is more fragile than other leaves and prone to snapping under pressure. When this happens, the compounds in it are leached onto the nearest available surface. This can happen even when grass blades are stuck on to the clothes. Besides, their molecular composition is quite similar to that of fibres like cotton and jute. So it is easy for the compounds to penetrate similar molecular structures in clothes, and bond rapidly. Within minutes, the grass stain sets on the clothes and becomes semi-permanent.
The stains can become even more stubborn when combined with mud.
How to remove grass stains from your clothes
- Do not wash the clothes with your usual detergent. The chemicals in the detergent may react with the grass stains and set them deeper into the fabric.
- Use a stain removing formula (in liquid, powder or gel form) to remove grass stains. The stain remover is designed to combat a variety of stubborn stains. Some amount of soaking in water may be required.
- Exposing the stain to heat, whether in direct sunlight or in the dryer, can deepen it and make it difficult to remove.
- Keep your stained clothing away from fabric whiteners, bleach and stain removing detergents. These products do not work for stain removal, and may harm the garment’s fabrics.
- Dealing with the grass stain when it is fresh will remove it on first treatment with a stain remover.