Keeping the boys and girls of summer looking great doesn’t need to be such a chore. It would be nice if all of the T-ball, softball and baseball leagues had managers who whisked away the dirty uniforms and a nice, clean one magically appeared on game day. But since that is reserved for the chosen few, here are some tips for keeping baseball uniforms looking their best.
Know Your Material
Remember when George Costanza switched the Yankees to cotton uniforms on Seinfeld? It was a disaster because the cotton shrank and the players couldn’t throw, hit or run comfortably. That’s why almost every baseball uniform is made from heavy weight stretchable polyester knit or mesh. The fabric is durable, has stretch for ease of movement and is actually easier to care for than cotton.
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Learn the Presoak
Presoaking is essential in getting your uniform clean. After the game, rinse off the uniform in a utility sink to remove as much loose dirt and mud as possible. If you don’t have a utility sink, hang the uniform over a clothesline and spray it down with a hose.
Next fill a large sink or bucket with warm – not hot – water. Add a capful of heavy duty laundry detergent and one cup of baking soda; then soak the uniform for at least one hour. It is even better if it can soak overnight.
It is important to know if the water in your area is hard or soft. Hard water contains an excess of minerals that make detergents much less effective in removing soil. If you have hard water, your uniform will be harder to clean and you will need to add some water conditioner to your presoak bucket. This is not fabric softener; it is an additive that helps your detergent work better.
No Steroids – No Chlorine Bleach
Chlorine Bleach has many appropriate uses, just like steroids, but not in baseball. It may be tempting to use chlorine bleach on white or even gray uniforms but it is not effective for polyester fabrics and can even damage the material.
Instead, use an oxygen or all-fabric bleach to brighten and whiten. Again, allow the uniform to soak for at least one hour to get the best results.
Baseball may be a team sport but the uniform should travel alone through the washing machine. Do not wash the uniform with other clothes. Most clothes contain cotton or a cotton blend. The lint will come off and cling to the jersey’s letters and numbers. After the uniform has pre-soaked, fill the washer with cool water and detergent and launder as usual. Never use hot water. Even if the uniform is white, the lettering and numbers are colored and will fade.
Forget The Heat
Blood, Sweat and Grass Stains
Use cold water. Hot water will only set the stains and make them nearly impossible to remove. The pre-soaking techniques will usually take care of stains. Inspect the uniform before you put it into wash and treat any remaining stains with a pre-treater or by rubbing in extra detergent.
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