It’s almost school time again and thoughts have turned to school clothes and getting the kids ready for another year of education. Each year, we go through the kid’s clothes from last year to see what items fit and those they’ve outgrown. We also make sure to look for tears, stains and fading that might make each item unusable for school this year.

I’m always surprised at the number of stains I see on the kid’s clothes. Whether it’s paint and markers from art class or grass stains from playing outside, stains destroy more school clothes than I like to think about. One of the most important tips for getting stains out is that they need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Stains that sit overnight or aren’t treated can become set in and almost impossible to remove.

Treat as soon as possible

When your child comes home from school, be sure to treat any stains as soon as you find them. By simply applying a stain pre-treater, you can prevent the stain from becoming permanent while you wait for laundry day. Pre-treating stain sticks are available in your local grocery store and start working fast to lift stains away.

Soak in cool water

If you don’t have a stain pre-treating stick, don’t worry. You can achieve the same result by soaking the item in cool water along with a half teaspoon of liquid dish detergent and a tablespoon of vinegar. Just let the item sit for about 30 minutes and then launder as usual.

Wash in warm water

After pre-treating the stain, wash it in warm water with other similar clothing items. The warm water will help to remove the stain unlike cold or hot which can set the stain causing it to become permanent. You may need to wash it more than one time or pre-treat it again depending on how the stain is responding to your attempts to remove it.

Check before drying

Don’t just toss the item in the dryer after you’re done washing it. You need to make sure that the stain has been removed. The heat from the dryer can set the stain and cause it to become permanent. It’s very difficult to remove a stain once your clothes have gone into the dryer.

One of the simplest ways to stay on top of the stains is by having your child change when they get home. Just have your child leave their worn clothes on top of the washing machine so you can check for stains when you have time. Then, deal with the stains right away.