How to Remove Dirt and Mud Stains

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NASA/JPL/US Geological Survey via Getty Images

Despite our best efforts, dirt and mud get everywhere, causing unsightly stains. Follow these tips to make a clean getaway.

The first step in removing dirt and mud stains is to identify the stained material.

­Below are the most common types of materials that can become mud-stained, with steps on how to remove dirt and mud from each:

  • Non-washable fibers such as Acetate, Burlap, Fiberglass, Rayon, Rope,Silk, Triacetate, Wool
  • Washable fibers such as Acrylic Fabric, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic,Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Spandex
  • Hard surfaces such as Acrylic Plastic, Alabaster, Aluminum, Asphalt, Bamboo, Brass, Bronze, Cane, Ceramic Glass/Tile, Chromium, Copper, Cork, Enamel, Glass, Grout,Iron, Linoleum, Marble, Paint (flat or gloss), Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Porcelain Dishes, Porcelain Fixtures, Stainless Steel, Tin, Vinyl Clothing, Vinyl Tile, Vinyl Wallcovering, Zinc
  • Stone surfaces such as Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite,Limestone, Masonry Tile, Sandstone, Slate, Terrazzo
  • Carpet (synthetic or wool)
  • Special fabrics such as Felt, Fur (natural or synthetic), Leather, Suede
  • Silver
  • Wallpaper
  • Wood

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Non-washable Fibers

Learn how to remove dirt and mud stains from Acetate, Burlap, Fiberglass, Rayon, Rope, Silk, Triacetate, Wool:

  • Let mud dry, then brush (the method of using a stiff-bristled brush to sweep staining material up onto a piece of paper) off the excess.
  • This should remove the stain, but if any remains sponge (the method of using a dampened pad to apply light strokes, moving outward from the center of the stain) the area with water and apply a few drops wet spotter and a few drops white vinegar.
  • Cover with an absorbent pad dampened with wet spotter. Let stand as long as any stain is being removed.
  • Change the pad as it picks up the stain.
  • Keep stain and pad moist with wet spotter and vinegar.
  • Flush (the method of applying stain remover to­ loosen staining material and residue from stain removers) with water and repeat wet spotter/flushing until no more stain is removed.
  • If stain remains, apply rubbing alcohol to the area and cover with an absorbent pad dampened with alcohol. (Do not use alcohol on acetate, rayon, or triacetate.)
  • Let the pad stand as long as any stain is being removed.
  • Change the pad as it picks up the stain.
  • Keep the stain and pad moist with alcohol.
  • If stain persists, moisten the area with an enzyme presoak (follow directions on label; caution, some enzyme presoaks are not designed for use on silk or wool.)
  • Cover with a clean pad that has been dipped in the solution and wrung almost dry. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
  • Add enough solution to keep the area warm and just moist.
  • When no more stain is being lifted, flush thoroughly with water and allow to dry.

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Washable Fibers

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from Acrylic Fabric, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Spandex:

  • Let mud dry, then brush off excess. Laundering should remove any remaining stain.
  • If more treatment is needed, sponge the stain with rubbing alcohol. (Do not use alcohol on acrylic or modacrylic.)
  • Flush with water. If stain persists, sponge it with a dry-cleaning solvent such as K2r Spot Lifter or Afta Cleaning Fluid.
  • Allow to dry, then launder.

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Hard Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from Acrylic Plastic, Alabaster, Aluminum, Asphalt, Bamboo, Brass, Bronze, Cane, Ceramic Glass/Tile, Chromium, Copper, Cork, Enamel, Glass, Grout, Iron, Linoleum, Marble, Paint (flat or gloss), Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Porcelain Dishes, Porcelain Fixtures, Stainless Steel, Tin, Vinyl Clothing, Vinyl Tile, Vinyl Wallcovering, Zinc:

  • Scrape (the method of using a dull tool to gently lift off excess solid or caked-on stains) any­ excess with a dull knife or spatula.
  • Wipe the surface with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

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Stone Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Masonry Tile, Sandstone, Slate, Terrazzo:

  • Carefully remove excess.
  • Wash with a solution of washing soda (not soap) and water. Use a cloth or soft-bristled brush to help clean.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clear water and allow to dry.

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Carpet

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from carpet:

  • To avoid forcing it further into pile, allow mud to dry before treating it.
  • Gently brush loose soil, then vacuum as usual. If a stain remains, spray with an aerosol carpet shampoo.
  • When the shampoo has dried, vacuum.

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Special Fabrics

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from Felt, Fur (natural or synthetic), Leather, Suede:

  • Allow mud to dry, then gently brush off.
  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Swish to create a great volume of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge.
  • Wipe area with clean dry cloth.

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Silver

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from silver:

  • Wash as soon as possible in hot sudsy water.
  • Rinse in hot water and dry immediately with a soft cloth to prevent tarnish.

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Wallpaper

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from wallpaper:

  • Brush off any excess dirt.
  • With a cloth or sponge dampened with cool clear water, wipe the stained area.
  • Overlap strokes to avoid streaking. Gently pat dry.

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Wood

Follow these steps to remove dirt and mud stains from wood:­

  • Remove any excess dirt with a brush.
  • Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds.
  • Dip a cloth in only the foam and apply to the stain.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth dampened with clear water.
  • Polish or wax as soon as possible.

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