How to Get Mud Stains Out of Clothing

Getting mud stains out of clothing can be a frustrating task, but with the right techniques and products, it is possible to remove them effectively. Here are some tips and methods for removing stubborn mud stains from clothes.

Pre-treating the Stain

When mud gets on clothing, it’s important to pre-treat the stain as soon as possible. The quicker you can get to the stain, the better chance you have of removing it completely.

Blot Excess Mud

If the mud stain is still wet, use a clean cloth or paper towels to blot and absorb as much of the excess mud as possible. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the stain, as this can further push the mud into the fabric fibers. Gentle blotting lifts the mud off the surface.

Loosen Dry Mud

For dried or caked-on mud stains, use a dull knife, spoon, or your fingernail to gently scrape and pick off any hardened chunks or flakes. Removing the thick mud deposit will make it easier for detergent and water to penetrate the stain.

Apply Stain Stick or Pre-wash Spray

Next, apply a laundry pre-treat stain stick or spray to help breakdown the stain. Look for products that contain active enzymes or that are specifically formulated for use on mud and clay. Massage the product into the fabric, concentrating on the heaviest stained areas.

Let Sit for 10-15 Minutes

Allow the pre-treatment product to work on the stain for 10-15 minutes before washing. This sitting time gives the active ingredients more opportunity to lift and loosen the discoloration.

Washing the Mud Stained Item

After pre-treating, it’s time to launder the mud-stained garment or fabric. For best results, follow these washing steps:

Wash in Cold or Warm Water

Avoid using hot water when washing mud stained items, as the heat can set some stains. Lukewarm or cold water works best. Check clothing tags for the recommended wash temperature.

Use an Oxygen Based Detergent

Choose a high-quality laundry detergent that contains oxygenated bleaching agents, like sodium percarbonate or sodium perborate. These active ingredients release oxygen bubbles that help whisk away tough stains. Detergents with enzymes are also effective at breaking down protein-based stains like mud.

Wash Separately

Wash any mud-soiled clothes separately from the rest of your laundry. This prevents the mud from transferring or redepositing onto other garments in the wash. It also allows you to customize the wash cycle specifically for stain removal.

Pretreat Heavily Stained Areas

If the mud stain remains visible even after pre-treating, reapply a concentrated amount of stain remover or detergent directly to the stained area just before washing. Then launder as usual.

Use Longer Wash Cycles

Wash heavily soiled items using a longer, deeper cleaning cycle, which provides more time for agitation and detergent contact. Most washers have a “Heavy Duty” or “Soak” setting suitable for mud and other tough stains.

Drying and Additional Cleaning

After washing, check that the mud stain has been adequately removed. If discoloration remains, take these extra steps:

Air Dry First

Tumble drying can set some stains into fabric. It’s best to air dry the item first to ensure the stain is gone. Then you can dry as normal.

Pretreat and Re-wash

If traces of the stain persist, apply more stain remover or detergent and wash again using hotter water and longer wash cycles. Multiple washings may be required for complete removal.

Use Bleach on White Fabrics

For white clothes, use an oxygen bleach to help remove any last remnants of a mud stain. Check that the garment is bleach safe first.

Try Sunlight

Hang or lay stained items in direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays have natural bleaching properties to help remove discoloration. Be sure to protect colored fabrics from fading.

Tips for Avoiding Mud Stains

Preventing stains in the first place is easier than removing them. Here are some useful tips for keeping mud off your clothes:

  • Wear an apron when gardening or doing messy outdoor work.
  • Brush off dirt and mud from shoes and pants before entering the house.
  • Rinse mud splatters off clothes outside using a hose.
  • Roll up pants legs and sleeves when playing outside with kids.
  • Spot clean spills and splatters as soon as possible.
  • Apply a stain resistant protector spray to clothes worn for hiking or camping.

With some persistence and the right stain removal methods, even stubborn mud stains can be successfully removed from clothing and fabrics. Just be sure to act quickly when mud gets on clothes. The longer it sits, the harder it will be to get out.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Mud Stains

How do you get dried mud stains out of clothes?

For dried or caked-on mud, first gently pick off any hard chunks using a dull knife, spoon, or fingernail. Then apply a laundry pre-wash stain treatment and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to penetrate the fibers. Finally, wash with an oxygen-based detergent using hot water and long wash cycles.

What is the best stain remover for mud?

Look for stain removers and laundry pre-treat sprays that contain enzymes, oxygenated bleaches, or that are specifically formulated for mud and clay. Products with ingredients like sodium percarbonate, sodium perborate, and amylase enzymes work well to break down and lift dried mud stains.

Does baking soda remove mud stains?

Baking soda can help remove mud due to its mild abrasive qualities. Make a paste with baking soda and water and gently rub it into the stain. Let it sit for a few hours before washing. The baking soda will help lift discoloration without damaging fabrics.

How do you get mud out of white clothes?

For white fabrics, apply a stain pre-treatment and wash with an oxygen bleach detergent. If traces remain, lay the garment in direct sunlight to utilize the sun’s natural bleaching effects. Check that the fabric is bleach safe first. Multiple treatments and washings may be required.

Can mud stains be removed after drying?

Yes, dried or set-in mud stains can still be removed with some extra effort. Use a dull utensil to pick off any caked bits, apply a pre-wash stain remover, and wash with hot water, soaking cycles, and oxygen bleach. Repeat treatments, air dry, and use sunlight to fully lift the stain.


Mud stains can be notoriously difficult to remove from clothing and fabrics. However, by using the right stain-fighting techniques, it is possible to successfully remove them and restore your clothes. Blotting and pre-treating promptly, washing with oxygen bleaches, enzyme detergents, and bleach alternatives, and repeating treatments as needed are all effective methods for conquering muddy messes. With some time and targeted effort, you can keep your garments looking fresh, clean, and stain-free.