Grass Stain Buster! The Ultimate DIY Laundry Spot Remover

grass stain remover

My 18 year old son Kell has a job working as a greenskeeper at the local golf course this summer. When he comes home at the end of a long day of mowing, edging, raking, weed-whacking, etc, his pants look like the picture above. Almost completely covered in grass stains. For the most part I just wash them and don’t really worry about the stains because they are his “work pants” after all.  They’re just going to get the same abuse the next day.

Yesterday, however, I ran across a reader comment that I’ve saved for over a year now that I have been meaning to try. It was a DIY laundry spot remover and I thought Kell’s grass-stained pants would be a great test for it. To be honest, I didn’t think it stood a chance against the grass stains. About the only thing I have found harder to get out than grass stains are yellow armpit stains. I figured if I could conquer THOSE, I could conquer anything! :-)

It takes a lot to surprise me anymore….especially when it comes to homemade laundry solutions…but this one definitely did just that!  After one wash it completely removed the stains!

Here is the recipe that Karen W shared back on June 12, 2012! (Why oh why did I wait so long to try it??)


grass stain remover


My One Good Thing is a laundry spot remover that I have found to be very good at getting out tough stains. It is one cup of water, one cup of ammonia, one cup of Era laundry detergent, and one cup of vinegar. Put these into a spray bottle and shake it up to mix, then use it on those tough stains. It has even got out set in stains.  Just spray it on and rub it in or use a brush on it. I have used it for years!


grass stain remover

grass stain remover

I first mixed all the ingredients in a pitcher and then poured it into a spray bottle.  I sprayed the pants liberally with the mixture and rubbed the areas with the worst stains together a little bit. I waited about 10 minutes and then threw them in a regular load of clothes my my homemade powdered laundry detergent. I didn’t even soak them.


grass stain remover

grass stain remover


I think the results speak for themselves.  I can’t wait to try it out on more stains!

Here is the recipe again, in recipe form:


Grass Stain Buster Spot Remover


1 cup water
1 cup ammonia
1 cup vinegar
1 cup Era laundry detergent

(I have no idea if this recipe would work with another brand name, but I have a hunch that it would. Please let us know if any of you try it!)


My son’s “work pants” are now actually fit to be worn in respectable places! At least until after work tomorrow. :-)


grass stain remover



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  1. Telina says

    I wonder if this would work on the arm pit stains.

    If it did, it would eliminate one of our laundry busters. We could call it the “Super Spectacular Stain Stopper”.

    Jillee … I’ve looked high and low … did you get rid of your forum?

        • Amy says

          I have one bottle w Dawn and vinegar – and a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide. I have been using both to treat my son’s WHITE football uniform with success…and I also make my own detergent…. works fine without ammonia

          • Penny says

            Why do they make our sons’ uniforms white!?? LOL. Home games I have white pants and away games I have a white jersey. Oh and for practice it is ALL white. I have been using the Dawn//vinegar, but need to add the hydrogen peroxide to my laundery room as I have not yet. I also make my own detergent thanks to Jillee.

  2. Kathy says

    Is it the ammonia that is removing the grass stains? When my son was smaller, he used to have issues with nose bleeds so I always had bloody clothes and sheets to try to clean. I was on a stain buster forum years ago and a lady stated the best tip she ever got was using ammonia to remove blood stains. I did not have any on hand but knew it was in the bottle of windex I had so i sprayed it on the blood stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes and then washed and the stains came right out. After this I bought a bottle of ammonia for the laundry room. I found a pillowcase that haf blood on it that had gotten somehow thrown in the back of his closet and I had missed it. It had been there for a while. I treated with the ammonia and let it sit for a while and laundered and it came right out after I added a small amount of additional ammonia to the wash and let it sit for about 30 minutes and then started it back. I think I have used on grass stains in the wash and they came out also.

      • Michael says

        Secret is, Fresh Blood stains can disappear before your very eyes, with Hydrogen Peroxide.

        Dried In, Set In stains however, can’t survive in the Alkaline Environment, caused by the Ammonia. So, they tend to slowly, lift away, and before you know it, the whole stain just is gone.

        Sorta like those old A-L-L commercials, from the 80′s.

  3. Lisa says

    I do NOT believe this works with any detergent. ERA has enzymes which eat the grass stains (and other protein-based stains like food, blood, milk, body fluids) and I have used it diluted as a prewash without any other chemicals and it always takes out grass stains in 1 wash. There are some other detergents which are enzyme based and I suspect they would work too. ERA doesn’t do well in general laundry tests on Consumer reports so it must be weak in other types of stain removal, but its amazing for grass.

  4. says

    I’m curious if you could replicate this using natural ingredients? Have you tried subbing a natural laundry detergent for the Era, or anything less scary for the Ammonia? If so, what worked & what didn’t?

  5. says

    My girls are grown now, but they both played softball (white shorts and/or pants as they got older) – Used the “blue” Dawn Dish Detergent (pour some on, scrubbed in under running water – then tossed in washer). Grass and red clay/dirt came out – Don’t know if this would work on set-in stains as I always did this as soon as we got home (they usually had another game the next day and since I worked it was easier to get the job done as soon as possible. One bonus, no ammonia odor.

  6. Gwyn says

    This looks like something that could be VERY useful. Ha, you even foresaw my question (do you have to use Era), the recipe proportions are so easy I think I will cut it down and give it a try with the homemade first. I to need to ask Jillee, what did you change after yesterdays site discussion? I received 2 emails (both the same) yesterday afternoon, an odd time, that just listed this weeks postings. But I didn’t get anything for this (today’s) posting. It usually comes in the wee hours (around 2am) but there wasn’t anything this morning which I found very odd so I just went to the site and found it that way. But thought you should know no email came today (for me at least) and I sure didn’t “unsubscribe”! No doubt you are working on some of the site issues and no complaint just info in case you weren’t aware. Love this stain buster, I have very active guys, thanks Jillee! Noooo, now I’m “posting too quickly” hahaha

    • says

      Hi Gwyn! I’m so sorry about the multiple emails yesterday! We were implementing a new email template yesterday afternoon and apparently when you put in a new template on our email server it sends an email out to your whole list. I hope that wasn’t too annoying :)

  7. Gwyn says

    Ooop, email came through while I was commenting so disregard my previous.You obviously got rite on the issues people were expressing yesterday and whatever the outcome (or what you were able to do or not) thanks for being so attentive to everyone, as usual, Jillee.

  8. Jan says

    Any ideas for greasy / oily stains? My husband wears khaki pants to work and seems to always bring home some kind of stain. I use the powdered homemade detergent. Would love any suggestions.

    • Michael says

      Add a can of Coke-Cola, the Regular Stuff, not Diet, along with 1/2 cup of ammonia. You’ll be shocked at what it’ll pull out.

      And I promise, neither will stain your clothes. Although, he may smell like Lemons, for a little bit :P

        • Michael says

          Dump both of them in, the washer tub, while it’s filling up. You may also pour small amounts of the ammonia directly on parts of the fabric, but don’t soak it with Ammonia.

          I’d let the washer, do it’s job halfway, and then pause the cycle, and allow it to soak for a hour to two, then resume, and let it move to the rinse cycle.

          For Pretreating, one could add non-diluted, 3% hydrogen peroxide to Blood & Food Stains, however, I don’t find it really helpful on anything greasy. A dime size amount of Dawn (I normally use the Blue bottle, but the other varieties seem to do fine) rubbed in on very bad spots, just help to remove greasy stains.

      • Linda says

        The Queen of Clean says to reconstitute the oil stain with WD-40, let it sit for 15 minutes & go back with Dawn & put it on the stain & leave that for 15 minutes. Then rub it together & wash normally. I’ve tried this & it worked!

    • Lori says

      The liquid homemade laundry detergent works AMAZINGLY on greasy, heavily soiled work clothes. Football player son and farm and maintenance hubby. I was a skeptic but it really worked. Search for it on onegoodthing. It has dawn, borax, washing soda and water. Ultra cheap and really works.

    • Lori says

      Full strength Dawn rubbed on the grease stain should take it out. As usual as soon as you notice the stain the better. I have even rubbed Dawn on the stain & tossed in the hamper until wash day with excellent results.

  9. Mary says

    For grass and oil stains, Lestoil works EVERY time! I have used this for years, applying it full strength to the stain. If you let it sit awhile, it works even better. Especially fabulous on grease stains.

  10. Christine says

    I realize that not everyone wants to make their own cleaning products to be good to the environment. It’s cheaper and more sane to create them using a few common items. I started collecting recipes for cleaning products to become less dependent on the corporations that are killing America and to be environmentally sound.

    Sun laundry soap is bad for the environment. And ammonia is toxic to aquatic life.

  11. Michael says

    DROP THE VINEGAR, AND Replace with Water.

    The Vinegar actually deactivates the Detergent, in the bottle, making it almost useless. You’d get much better results if they weren’t trying to kill each other off..

    The Vingear also trys to kill off the Ammonia, ruining the effectiveness of that too. I’d suggest making this solution with Either Water replacing the Vinegar or Ammonia.

  12. Dawn says

    The best stain fighter I use is a 50/50 blend of dish detergent and water. I have had success taking out food, grease/oil, grass, and even red clay. I do sometimes re-treat a tough spot and will use straight dish liquid on occasion. For blood, I find that peroxide and dish liquid will get it out. The peroxide can bleach colors so mixing with dish detergent on colors and washing right away are recommended. Someone mentioned above that they think it is the Era that makes this work. I agree. It is superior at removing grass stains all by itself. I also agree that chemicals mixed together often just cancel each other out. If I were to use this mixture I would mix it in tablespoon amounts and use it as a one shot cleaner to avoid killing off the effectiveness of the individual cleaners. I would also just try the Era in a spray bottle as a grass stain cleaner if you have kids or a husband that have chronic grass stains.

  13. Jennifer P says

    I’ve have been using the recipe for over 20 years. When I originally found it they recommended using Wisk but I have someone who is sensitive to Wisk so I use Era. I make my own laundry soap now but still buy a bottle of Era for this recipe. I have passed this recipe to several friends and family who asked how I kept my kids clothes clean, when they were little. I still use it now, it worked great to remove the coffee spills on my shirt last week.
    I make it up in a large squirt bottle and put some into a small spray bottle. Spray, scrub/rub and wash. Love it.

  14. Amy says

    On your recent post regarding your reader’s “One good thing” a lady posted about using the very inexpensive hand cleaner that mechanics use on stains, even set-in stains. My son recently started football, and with football comes a wide variety of stains on WHITE football pants including grass stain. I bought the $3 hand cleaner and grabbed an old toothbrush and went to work on his practice and game day pants and they came out **SPARKLING** WHITE. I have found that scrubbing the stains and letting them sit for a little while (maybe 30 minutes) helps to dissolve the stains, grass stains included!

  15. Mary says

    Ok. I am probably dragging a dead horse but since I am new here, I have to ask a laundry question…. Anyway, I have seen everyones comments about ‘this works on this, and this works on that.’ Has anyone ever been successful at getting out greasy food and various food stains AFTER they have been through the dryer. Hubby NEVER checks and doesn’t pretreat ANYTHING! Makes me so angry because I have had to throw away expensive shirts, not to mention kids clothes because he won’t put bibs on the kids.

  16. Margot says

    The resale shop I took my kids’ clothes to when they were little (are in their 20s now) gave me this formula. I’ve used it ever since as there are very few stains it doesn’t remove and I’ve never had it damage anything I’ve applied it to. Clothes can be treated and tossed in the hamper until laundry time/day. It is 1 part ammonia, 1 part blue Dawn, and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide.

    Also years ago I collected a laundry “Hint” from Heloise. She recommended adding 1 cup ammonia to loads of towels and sheets in the hot months of summer. It apparently helped release body oils and left them smelling fresher. If we are going through a hot, sweaty stretch of summer it’s what I normally do and it does seem to help remove the gunk from baby oil especially.

  17. Betsy says

    Jillee (and everyone behind the scenes), I just want to say Thank you for EVERYTHING! Seriously, I look forward to reading this blog every single day. You have seriously saved me SO much money by all of these DIY tutorials you post. Please oh please keep up the good work! God bless you!

  18. Mary says

    I have found that plain rubbing alcohol works just as well on grass stains. It doesn’t get the dirt out but removes the grass stains completely. I tried the above and it worked on the grass stains but not the dirt. Rubbing alcohol is a lot easier and cheaper.

  19. Francine Thomas says

    I have used Zout for years on grease stains, grass stains and even blood stains.You can find it at any grocery store in the laundry aisle. Once in awhile I have to retreat a spot, but it has never failed me yet. I started it when MY son, now 35 played football, and wore the white pants, and white practice jersey. I felt it was a recipe from heaven! My husband loves to work on the car and ALWAYS grabs one of my good dishtowels to dry his hands (which never get grease free) . *grumble, grumble*

  20. says

    I have read through the comments and learned quite a bit. I have always used Dawn on grease spots with great results. My Uncle is a Deisel Mechanic and my Aunt told me about using Dawn for grease. Gets it right out of his jeans.

    And after reading what one commenter linked to about ammonia- I will definitely not be using that. I will however try the rubbing alcohol for grass stains.

    THanks for all of your DIY’s I find them very helpful and it is nice to have one spot to come to for questions like these. You are my new Heloise.

    • Lori says

      I would try Era for the ink stain. I have always pretreated with Era specifically on ink, blood & tomato sauce stains. Not sure how well it would work if the stain is set, but I think it’s a good bet.

    • Mary says

      Try soaking it in rubbing alcohol. It has taken ink out of my clothes even after it has been through the dryer. Just douse the stain completely. It won’t damage the clothes and should come out completely.

  21. Alberta says

    I have enjoyed reading all the posts. Wish I had found this site before I sprayed my pillowcase with Shout and washed it. Maybe it would have worked had I let it set for a while. I will still try the ammonia, blue dawn, and peroxide. Thanks all for the tips.

  22. Ruth says

    I hate to say this–but if you are going to use something like Era to remove stains, why not just wash with it? I think it kind of defeats the the purpose of being DIY when you use something like that as one of the ingredients. I haven’t found a homemade stain remover yet that does what I want, grease is my big problem as I’m short and can’t get as far away from my cooking as I’d like. At least homemade soap and vinegar for softener has helped my skin problems a lot!!

  23. says

    I have used a mixture of 1 part blue Dawn dish soap, 1 part liquid Wisk laundry detergent and one part white vinegar diluted with 2 parts water. Combined in a spray bottle, it’s one of the best spotting solutions I’ve ever tried. For deeply colored stains, I use the spotting solution and follow with hydrogen peroxide and that works well too.

  24. Beth says

    Thanks so much for sharing this great stain fighter! My husband often comes home with greasy food stains on his work polo shirts. I have had to launder his stained shirts 2-3 times with Oxiclean, Spray n Wash, etc. to even make a dent. Some I have even had to throw away! Every food stain I have treated with this recipe (I did use Era per the directions) has been completely wiped out on the first try! No more wasting water and wearing out the shirts by laundering multiple times! It’s a miracle! :)

  25. Doris says

    I am reading everyone’s comments on stain busters for the laundry. Something that would normally fight ALL kinds of stains. I have 3 young kids. So something to treat, grass, blood, Food stains, and anything else that may be on the clothes, along with the husbands clothes. I was reading that some ingredients work against other ingredients. So how do you think it would work, if I put 1 cup of water, 1 cup ammonia, 1 tbs. Blue dawn, and 1 cup hydrogen peroxide. mix all together and put in a spray bottle. Do you think this would work.?, or should I have a laundry detergent like Era, or oxy clean?

  26. ramcclain says

    This has become my laundry spot remover, period. IT EVEN WORKS ON RED WINE!!

    A few nights ago, my granddaughter knocked over my husband’s glass of red wine, right into him, getting all over his sweatshirt, pants, and getting thru to his boxers and t shirt. As we had just sat down to eat, and clothes were NOT his good ones, I waited until after dinner to ‘attack’ the clothes and wine. I have used Wine Away in the past, but didn’t have any, so used this remover, and it took our EVERY BIT of stain in all the clothes! I have a front loader, to put it on the stain remover cycle as well, which I had never used.

    I have also used on dark clothes, and it does NOT affect the colors. I have used on several shirts that had set-in stains from olive oil, or similar, that I had not been able to remove earlier. I have had to treat a couple more than once, but spots did come out. It does help to examine after washing (if you can tell), and if spot did not come out, retreat, let sit, and retreat, and then wash. And I use Jillee’s Homemade Laundry Detergent, found here: It is also EXCELLENT!

    I have not tried this on good table linens, but certainly will eventually. My daughter is a caterer, and has used on her tablecloths and napkins, which again, are not really ‘fine’ ones, but necessary for her job, and she has used with great success, even on some stains that had not been treated for some time.

    I strongly recommend this. I have NOT tried using another detergent other than ERA, which I purchased at local Dollar General initially, and then a large one at Sam’s Club.

  27. Arlene says

    I have an even better mix and is more green than the use of ammonia and laundry soap. I love it. Use it for everything including set in sauce stains, baby puke from when my daughter was younger etc.

    I put 1 cup vinegar, I cup water and half of cup of BLUE ORIGINAL dawn dish soap. Mix it all together in a spray bottle. Spray on stain and let it sit for a few minutes. No need to brush the stain unless old. Then throw in the laundry and wash as usual. It even is terrific on carpet stains. I use this mix in my carpet cleaner and they come so clean.


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