The summer is a time for sun and fun and a whole bunch of big messes. From sunscreen to pit stains, grotty grills and dingy whites, we’ll demystify the most common summertime cleaning challenges so you can spend less time doing chores, and more time on the beach!
Get Rid of Yellow Sweat Stains
Yellow pit stains are the result of the chemical reaction that occurs between your sweat and the aluminum found in most antiperspirants, and the most important thing to know about them is that you shouldn’t try to reverse them using chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach, when mixed with any kind of protein stain, including sweat, will render them more yellow, which is obviously not what you want!
Instead, use an enzymatic stain remover like Zout to pretreat the pits of your white and light-colored shirts prior to washing. To reverse set-in pit stains, soak the shirts overnight in a solution of hot water and a scoop of oxygen bleach, and then launder as usual.
Confront Common Outdoor Stains
It’s a funny thing about common summertime stains like grass, mud and dirt, or sunscreen: They all function differently from most stains and need to be addressed with specialized products or techniques. Here’s everything you need to know:
Grass: Grass creates, essentially, a combination of stain types — protein and dye — making them trickier than most to remove. Apply an enzymatic laundry pretreatment spray like Zout to the stains before laundering the garment as usual; if traces of green grass stains remain after washing, dab rubbing alcohol onto the area and re-launder.
Mud and Dirt: Mud is one of the few stain types that’s not best treated straightaway. That’s because it’s easier clean dirt than mud, so letting it dry will allow you to brush much of it away. Lingering dirt should be treated with a stain removing product before the garment is laundered.
Keep Your Grill Tip-Top
A great thing about grills is that, when it comes to cleaning them, there’s no need to overthink things. For day-to-day cleaning, all you need to do is heat the grill up to char stuck-on food, then give the grates a once over with a grill brush. That’s really it! If you want to up your game, and honestly you should because it’s so easy and will improve the functioning of your grill, complete the process by rubbing the grates with a small amount of vegetable oil, which will create a non-stick coating.
To deep clean a grill, which frequent grillers should do every 10-20 uses and infrequent grillers can tackle once or twice a year, start by removing the grates, and use a grill brush to sweep debris into the grill’s removable tray. Discard the debris and use a damp rag to wipe out the inside of the grill cabinet; the bottom tray and grates can be scrubbed with hot, soapy water. The exterior of the grill should be washed with soapy water or a gentle powder cleanser like Bon Ami.
Reverse a Sunscreen Stain
Sunscreen is a funny animal in the stain menagerie. There’s a common ingredient in sunblock called avobenzone that, when combined with iron (which occurs naturally in our water supply) creates what is essentially a rust stain. To treat, use a rust stain remover or squeeze lemon juice onto the stain, top with an anthill-style pile of salt and leave overnight, then brush the salt away and launder. A crucial thing to know about sunscreen stains is that you should not use chlorine or oxygenated bleach on them, as both products will make those stains worse.
Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her weekly cleaning advice column, “Ask a Clean Person,” appears on Esquire.com; its companion podcast is available on Acast and iTunes.