dirty jeans

How to Remove Clay from Clothes

Whether you’re an artist working with pottery, a gardener tending to your plants, or just enjoying a day outdoors, clay stains on clothes are an all too familiar annoyance.

The earthy material can adhere stubbornly to fabrics, leaving behind unsightly marks and potential damage.

However, fear not. In this guide, we will explore a variety of effective methods to remove clay from clothes, allowing you to tackle the issue with confidence and restore your garments to their former glory.


Understanding Clay Stains

pottery clay

Clay stains can be particularly tricky to deal with due to their composition.

Clay contains fine particles that can embed themselves deeply into fabric fibres, making them resistant to traditional washing methods.

Additionally, clay often contains natural pigments that contribute to its vibrant colours, which can further complicate stain removal.

To effectively remove clay stains, it’s essential to employ a combination of techniques to break down the particles and lift the pigments from the fabric.

By using a combination of techniques and cleaning products, you’ll have the best chance of removing all of the clay from your clothing.

Here’s our guide to removing clay stains from your clothing once and for all.


Guide to Removing Clay Stains from Clothing

Preparation and precautions

dirt stain on white clothes

Before attempting any stain removal processes, it’s crucial to read the care label on your clothing to understand the fabric’s specific washing instructions.

Different fabrics require varying levels of care and attention, so always proceed with caution.

Also, always work on clay stains when they are fresh, as allowing the clay to dry can make removal significantly more difficult.

Trying to remove dried clay can cause the particles to embed deeper into the fabric, making the stain almost impossible to eliminate completely.


Shake and brush off excess clay

brush off dirt stain

The first step in removing clay from clothes is to gently shake off as much excess clay as possible. This is most effective when the clay is still wet.

Once you’ve shaken off what you can, use a soft brush, like an old toothbrush or a paintbrush, to carefully brush away any remaining particles.

Make sure to brush in the direction of the fibres to avoid pushing the clay further into the fabric.


Rinse with cold water

cold wash for dirt stain

For both fresh and dried clay stains, rinsing the affected area with cold water can be highly effective. Hold the stained area under cold running water and use your fingers to gently rub the fabric together.

Avoid using hot water, as it can cause the clay to set further into the fabric. As you rinse, you should see the clay particles start to loosen and wash away. Keep doing this until no more clay is coming off.


Pretreat with washing-up liquid

treat dirt stain with washing up liquid

Washing-up liquid is a powerful tool for removing clay stains from clothes. In fact, it works great on many stains.

Choose a mild washing-up liquid that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals.

Begin by dampening the stained area and applying a small amount of dish soap directly onto the stain.

Gently rub the fabric together to create a lather. Allow the soap to sit on the stain for about 10-15 minutes.

Then, rinse the area under cold water, checking to see if the stain has lightened. If the stain persists, repeat the process until you achieve the desired results.


Vinegar solution

vinegar for dirt stains on clothes

White vinegar can also be effective in breaking down clay stains. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl.

Dampen the stained area with the solution and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. The mild acidity of the vinegar helps dissolve the clay particles and pigments.

After the designated time, rinse the area with cold water and check if the stain has improved. If necessary, repeat the process.

This method works great for removing smaller clay particles that other methods can’t. So, if the stain is still present after using other methods, give this one a try.


Bicarbonate of soda paste

baking soda paste for dirt stain

Bicarbonate of soda is known for its gentle abrasive properties, making it useful for tackling stubborn stains like clay.

Create a paste by mixing bicarbonate of soda with water until you achieve a thick consistency.

Gently apply the paste to the stained area, being careful not to scrub too vigorously.

Let the paste sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with cold water.

This method can be particularly effective for clay stains that have dried onto the fabric and can be done before or after other methods on this list.

If the clay is dry, consider using this method before others.


Commercial stain removers

remove dirt stain with commercial stain remover

If the above methods don’t yield satisfactory results, you can consider using a commercial stain remover. Look 

for a product specifically designed to tackle tough stains while being safe for the fabric.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and always test the product on a hidden area of the clothing before applying it to the stained area.

Stain Devils Grease and Lubricant Remover is particularly great when it comes to removing clay stains from clothing, and it works wonders on lots of other stains.

Stain Devils also has other amazing formulas that work great on other common household stains too. It’s always worth keeping some in your cleaning cupboard for those extra-stubborn stains.


Final Thoughts

hands with clay

Removing clay stains from clothes might require a bit of patience and experimentation, but with the right techniques and a gentle touch, you can successfully restore your garments to their original condition.

Don’t be afraid to try more than one method of stain removal. It will give you the best chance of removing the stain altogether.

Remember to always check the care instructions on your clothing and avoid using any methods that could potentially damage the fabric.

By acting promptly and using the appropriate methods, you can bid farewell to those pesky clay stains and enjoy your clothes looking fresh and clean once again.

Got other stains that you need help with? Don’t worry. In The Wash has articles about dealing with all sorts of stains.

From highlighter ink on clothes to coke stains on carpets, we’ve got you covered.