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The easiest way to remove mud stains from clothes, carpets and furniture

Whether they’re from puddle splashes, working in the garden or sliding into first base, mud stains never make an outfit better. And, what's more, not all mud stains are created equal. Believe it or not, dark mud needs to be treated differently from red mud stains.

Here's the good news: mud — whatever the color— is not that hard to remove. In fact, one product that will help you cut through mud easily is dish washing detergent! But there's more to it. We asked Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, and Dean Carter, owner of Carter’s Carpet Restoration, to show us how it’s done.

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How to remove dark mud from clothing

This might surprise you, but the first thing you should do is let the mud dry. The reason? Wiping or wetting mud before it dries thoroughly will force it deeper into the fabric. Here's what to do next:

  • Using a dull knife, scrape away dried mud.
  • Rub liquid laundry detergent into the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Using a wet a toothbrush and a few drops of water, scrub the detergent into the stain, scrubbing both sides of the fabric.
  • Machine wash as usual, but wash apart from any other clothes.
  • Repeat until all mud is gone.
  • Air dry to make sure no trace of the stain remains.

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What to do when red mud stains your clothes

  • First, let the mud dry.
  • Remove as much mud as possible with a dull knife.
  • Apply liquid dish soap to the stained area and let it sit overnight.
  • Using a wet a toothbrush and a few drops of water, work the detergent into the stain. Make sure to scrub both sides of the fabric.
  • Machine wash as usual, but launder separately from any other clothes.
  • If any stain remains, apply a color-safe bleach directly on the fabric or flush with rubbing alcohol, then machine wash again.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • Air dry to make sure no trace of the stain remains.

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How to remove dark mud from upholstery

Note: Silk, antique or vintage upholstery should be professionally cleaned. For a DIY solution, try this:

  • First, let the mud dry.
  • Vacuum up as much as possible.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of cool water.
  • Sponge the stain with the solution using a clean white cloth.
  • Blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat as needed to remove stain.
  • Remove detergent residue by sponging the area with cool water using a clean white cloth.
  • Allow to dry.

How to remove red mud from upholstery

  • Let the mud dry and vacuum up as much as possible.
  • Spray the stained area with warm water, and blot with a clean white cloth to absorb as much of the stain as possible.
  • Repeat until the stain is gone, changing cloths as needed.
  • If the stain persists, spray and blot using a mixture of 2 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of clear, bleach-free laundry detergent.
  • Spray again with plain, warm water and blot until suds are removed.
  • To remove any remaining detergent, spray with a mixture of equal parts warm water and distilled white vinegar.
  • Blot to dry.

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How to remove mud from your rug or carpet

Note: Silk or wool carpets should be professionally cleaned. For all others, try these tips:

  • Carter suggests that you always allow mud to dry completely before trying to remove it from carpet.
  • Once it’s dry, scrape the mud off the carpet, then vacuum.
  • Clean the remaining stain with a steam cleaner or dab the stain with a cloth moistened with water and a drop of Dawn dish washing detergent.
  • Once the stain is gone, rinse detergent from the carpet by alternately dabbing the area with a damp cloth and a clean towel.
  • Blot dry.
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