How to Wash and Care for Sports Jerseys

Boys Sports Team Wearing Team Sports Jerseys.

Caring for Sports Jerseys

If you have athletes in the family, chances are they come home with some degree of dirtiness on their jerseys. These jerseys are the ones they will be wearing for the sports season and possibly longer so it’s good to know how to keep the clean.

For sports jerseys to look great for the season, and longer, here are some tips to keep them looking good as long as you can.

Treating and Removing Stains

Always check your jersey to see if there are any stains and pre-treat them before you wash. The most common stains for a sports jersey are grass stains, blood stains and sweat stains.

Removing Grass Stains

Grass stains are common, before treating, shake out the shirt to remove all dirt. If it’s pretty dirty, rinse it out first.

  • Mix together one part white vinegar to two parts water.
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush and gently go over the grass stained area with the mixture.
  • Soak the area (in the vinegar/water mix) for one to two hours and then wash.

For heavy grass stains, use full strength white vinegar.

Removing Blood Stains

At some point, you’ll be dealing with blood stains on your athlete’s sports jersey. Cuts, scraps and bloody noses come with the territory. Follow our tips below to remove blood stains.

  1. Turn the jersey inside out then flush out as much of the blood by rinsing the area under cold water. This may do the trick but if some of the blood stain remains, continue to the next step.
  2. Fill the sink with the coldest water you can, add the jersey and gently rub the stained area between your fingers and let the jersey soak for about 20 minutes. Repeat rubbing the stained area between your fingers every four or five minutes. Remove the jersey and check if the stain is gone. If it is, great. If not, move on to the next step.
  3. Rub a little shampoo or dish soap on the remaining blood stain and again gently rub between your fingers. Rinse and wash the jersey.  
    If the jersey is white, at Step 3, try using hydrogen peroxide which will almost instantly remove any remaining blood stain. Put a towel behind the stained area, pour on some hydrogen peroxide, cover the area with a clean white or light colored towel and let sit for 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary.

Removing Sweat Stains

Dealing with sweat stains can be tricky since the stain might actually be from deodorant or antiperspirant and each stain should be treated differently. The color of the stain will help you to determine its origin.

If the stain is a yellow or slightly greenish in color, it’s most likely a perspiration stain.

Treating a Perspiration Stain

Make a mixture of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and half a cup of water. Soak the perspiration stained area for about 30 minutes then wash the jersey.

If the stain is white or clear and has a greasy texture, this is most likely from antiperspirant and should be treated as a grease stain.

Treating an Antiperspirant Stain

I have two cleaning tips for antiperspirant stains for you to try. Both of these include items you probably have in the kitchen already.

Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda is a staple in most kitchens and can be used to treat an antiperspirant stain. Just mix water into 1/4 cup baking soda until you have a paste (not a runny paste). Rub the mixture on the stain with an old toothbrush or scrub brush then let sit for a couple of hours, rinse well and wash.

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix together two parts hydrogen peroxide with one part Dawn. Pour over the stained area and use a scrub brush to work it in. Let sit for about an hour, rinse and wash.

How to Wash Your Jersey

Always read the instruction on the jersey label.  Sports jerseys are often made of moisture wicking polyester blend fabric, so if it suggests some special care, follow the instructions. Either wash separately or with like jerseys.

If there are no special instructions here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. After pre-treating (if needed), wash the jersey inside out, this helps to protect any lettering or special patches sewn on the jersey.
  2. Wash in cold water with mild, powder detergent. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Fabric softeners (liquid and sheets) can affect the wick dry technology of the jersey.
  3. If it’s your child’s sport jersey, wash it as soon as you get home.  This way you can treat stains quickly and successfully, plus, there’s most likely another game coming soon.
  4. If you’re worried about odors, add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  5. Remove jerseys from the washing machine immediately and turn right side out to avoid lettering from sticking together and avoid wrinkles.
    5a. Do not let them sit crumpled in the washer as this can permanently wrinkle decals, lettering, etc.
    5b. Do not put jerseys in the dryer for the same reason.
  6. Hang dry or lay flat on a towel to dry, this will protect the lettering and decals from drying out.

How to Repair Wrinkled Lettering or Decals to Jerseys

If you’ve put the jersey in a hot dryer and it’s come out clumped up and completely wrinkled, chances are there are some deep wrinkles and most likely cracking to letters, numbers, or decals. In this situation, you may be able to iron out some of the less offensive wrinkles but the jersey won’t look as good as it did before it went in the dryer.

If you’ve left the jersey in the washer and didn’t get it out immediately, but wasn’t left sitting in the washer for hours, there will probably be some slight wrinkling. With this scenario, it’s likely you can iron out the wrinkles and save the look of the jersey.

There are a couple of options below to iron out the wrinkles:

Option 1 – Using an Ironing Board

  1. Set the iron to the lowest heat setting.
  2. Open the jersey and place it over the narrow end of the ironing board (so the front and back of shirt are separated by the ironing board).
  3. Either place a clean towel, a press cloth, or a piece of baking parchment paper over the area you’ll be ironing.
  4. Iron over the area, continuously moving the iron around. Do this for just a few seconds and remove towel or parchment paper. Let cool.

Option 2 – If you Don’t Have an Ironing Board

If you don’t have an ironing board, place a clean towel in between the front and back of the shirt then:

  1. Turn the iron on to the lowest heat setting.
  2. As stated above, place a towel, press cloth or baking parchment paper over the lettering or decal. Make sure you are completely covering the area you’re working on.
  3. Now continuously move the iron over the lettering or decal. Do this for just a few seconds, check your work, repeat if necessary. Let cool.

Following these tips can help keep your sports jersey looking good and stain free!