12 Clever Cleaning Tips, Tricks and School Uniform Laundry Hacks

We’re finally ALL back to school! New uniforms, excited kids and laundry. Oh, so much laundry.

Here’s a quick reference guide in how to keep school uniforms, including white socks and shoes looking newer for longer, plus how to combat grass stains, gum in hair, grotty school socks and leaking lunch boxes.

School uniforms can be REALLY expensive, so it’s important to protect your investment! Plus, if you do manage to keep them in tip-top condition you CAN often sell them on your local Buy, Swap, Sell Marketplace page and recoup some money for the next size up. Score!

If you’re new to the school game, here’s some important notes:

  • When buying uniforms, buy one to wash, one to wear and one spare. If you can afford to have three shirts (and shorts/pants) in the uniform rotation, I find it’s ideal for keeping them looking newer for longer and it doesn’t matter if I put off the washing a day or two.
  • Always, always, always treat stains when you see them. The longer you put it off, the more time it has to set into the fabric.
  • Don’t treat a stain and then leave it unwashed. Washing the item is always the final step in stain removal.
  • NEVER put a stained piece of clothing in the clothes dryer. It’s set faster than concrete.
school uniform laundry hacks
Stain removal is one of our mumma superpowers! Source: Canva

Laundry hacks, tips and tricks for school mums

1. Keeping white sneakers white

Depending on how grubby your kid gets kicking mulch around the school playground and whatnot, keeping on top of white sneakers being clean is pretty easy.

Spot cleaning with a magic eraser should take care of sneakers in the short term. Every couple of months, remove the laces, scrub the shoe with a toothbrush and dishwashing detergent and throw them, together with the laces, into the washing machine for a cycle. They’ll come up a treat!

2. Caring for black leather school shoes

Sometimes, our parents and grandparents just knew best. Caring for leather has remained the same over the years, there are no real quick fixes for black leather school shoes.

Keep them dry, keep them clean by wiping over them with a barely damp microfibre cloth and giving them a regular buff and polish once a week or fortnight to keep the leather soft and comfy around your child’s foot.

laundry hacks school uniforms
Polish and buff become routine with leather school shoes. Source: Bigstock

3. Preventing white school socks from turning grey

Keeping school socks clean can feel like an impossible task. Soak white socks in a bucket of baking soda and water overnight (add 1 cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water). Wring out the socks and wash as per normal.

Alternatively, if you have plenty of lemons available, try bringing ½ a cup of lemon juice, a few drops of dishwashing soap and a pot of water to the boil and softly boiling cotton socks for 20 minutes. Wash them as normal afterwards with an oxy-action detergent.

4. White school shirts shining bright!

With white shirts, you have to act fast! Soak white school shirts overnight in a tub containing 4 litres of water and a cup of bicarb soda, then wash as per normal (whites only!) in the washing machine with an oxy-action detergent. Dry white shirts outside in the direct sun – it’s a natural bleach for white fabrics!

body odour sweat stains
White shirts can handle an extended soak and sun bath. Source: Bigstock

5. Keeping coloured school shirts looking bright

My kids have always had navy polo shirts in their school uniforms. They’re great for not showing up the dirt but they can fade and look tired over time. To keep your coloured school shirts looking newer for longer, turn them inside out and wash in cold water with a cup of vinegar included to help prevent fading. When it comes to drying, if space permits, dry them inside on a clothes airer.

6. Removing stamps, texta or pen from skin

Believe it or not, it happens. If it’s not your own kid drawing on himself, it’s someone else’s kid drawing on yours. Depending on what kind of pen or marker it is, it’ll likely come off in the bath with some soap. But if it’s being a little more resistant to removal, try baby wipes, toothpaste or a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton wool ball. Paper kids, STICK TO USING PAPER.

laundry hacks
UGH. So much texta. SO MUCH. Source: Canva

7. Removing texta or pen from clothing

Different fabrics absorb ink at different rates so it’s good to have a few options readily available. Blotting at texta with a baby wipe can help lift the dye, as can spraying the texta with hairspray and then blotting the ink with a piece of paper towel. Have a bar of Sard Wonder Soap on hand and a toothbrush as a final resort. After treating, wash as per usual.

8. Kicking stubborn grass stains out

Does your kid love to play cricket or footy at recess? Grass stains on a school uniform or school sneakers can be annoying and a stain that should be treated quickly before it sets in.

Hydrogen peroxide is a hero in this instance. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with three parts cool water and rub into the stain, along with a sprinkle of baking soda. It’ll bubble a bit, lifting the grass dye from the fabric. Wash as per usual after treating!

laundry hacks school uniforms
Active kids and grass stains go hand in hand. Source: Bigstock

9. Ewww.. chewing gum on clothing

Chewing gum, oh how it can REALLY STICK. The easiest way to get gum off clothes or shoes is to freeze the gum. That’s right, stick the whole shirt in the freezer for half an hour, wait for the gum to freeze and then chip it off with a butter knife. Adios!

10. Worse, chewing gum stuck in their hair

Chewing gum in the hair is a little trickier. You’ll need to locate all the hair that’s been in contact with the gum (if you’re lucky, it’ll be stuck to the gum) and cover it in smooth peanut butter or vegetable oil. Use your fingers or a toothbrush to really massage it into the gum (the oil in peanut butter breaks down the gum). After a few minutes, you should be able to pull the gum down the length of the hair, wiping it on a tissue. Wash hair with shampoo so they don’t smell like lunch.

laundry hacks school uniforms
Chewing gum is NOTHING but TROUBLE. Source: Bigstock

11. Removing paint from the school uniform

If some paint has missed the smock during art class and landed on the school uniform, saturate the paint stain with a mix of half detergent and half water. Blot away the paint with a piece of paper towel until it’s been lifted. Wash as per normal straight away. Most children’s paints are water-based so any left behind SHOULD come out in the wash.

12. Lunch box and school bag disasters

From forgotten and now rotten fruit to leaking water bottles, squished bananas and more recently leaking hand sanitiser. You name it, we’ve had it. Most lunch bags and school bags can handle the washing machine. Scrape solid matter out of the bag and use a garden hose to give it a good pressurised squirt and pop it in the washing machine.

TIP: Add some tea towels to the wash to minimise the noise and hang out to dry once the cycle is complete. 

school uniform laundry hacks
Relax, school bags can be washed! Source: Bigstock

You’ll soon know what become regular stains that you have to deal with in your laundry so make a list of products and things to store in a handy laundry caddy you can reach for when you need. Ahhhh school, SO MUCH FUN, you’ve got this mum!

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Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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