When the mud sticks

Mud, mud, glorious mud, there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood, so follow me follow, down to the hollow and there let us wallow in glorious mud.

Apologies to Michael Flanders and Donald Swann who released “The Hippopotamus Song” back in 1959 featuring these lyrics, but I imagine that few in the laundry business, and even fewer parents would think of mud as “glorious”, particularly after a vigorous outdoor sports match at the weekend.

What is it about getting out the green-tinged mud and dirt from sports fields from that warrants about 500,000 internet forums on that topic alone?

In our business, they are called “nature stains”; grass, ground-in dirt, blood and sweat.

Mud stains because it contains iron oxide and decayed plants that contain tannic acid, which is also a dye. This dye reacts chemically with many fabrics, so the dye penetrates the fabric and forms tight molecular bonds there. That’s what makes them hard to remove.

Grass also contains the dye chlorophyll, so grass stains are in fact chlorophyll stains. Combine this with ground-in dirt and you have a pretty nasty combination that has to be removed from the same clothes every week.

Interestingly, not all mud and grass is the same. Spare a thought for the people who wash the kit of our major football codes’ teams. That beautiful green grass you see on your television screens or at the stadiums means that the grass is a type grown particularly for its high chlorophyll content and is kept that way with treatments that aim to elevate the chlorophyll content. More chlorophyll equals more dye.

At a local level there are design standards for sportsgrounds that dictate the topsoil parameters, the water holding capacity of the topsoil, and the type of grass to be used.

Grasses and sod used on sports fields have to take moderate to severe abuse and then come back for more. They breed these grasses tough and they’re mixed to get the optimum surface.

Over years, research has been improving the type and quality of turf being used on sports fields, but it can take up to 10 years to breed and trial a new strain of grass. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that one enterprising researcher in years to come finds a way to maintain all the qualities required of a sportsfield’s turf, but with less of the staining elements!

Until that happens, why not use our services to tackle those tough strains? We soak winter sports jerseys in oxidising agents and water, then wash and scrub and wash again before they are ready for another game.

Now we just have to wait for cricket season…

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