The holidays are over and it’s time to go back to real life. For parents of school-going children, this means packing lunches, ensuring homework is done and making sure school uniforms and sports kits are clean and ready for every weekday morning.

There are many ways to preserve and prolong the life of your children’s uniforms. Start by always reading and following the care instructions, wash with colder water when possible (when clothes aren’t too grubby!), don’t hang items in direct sunlight for too long, and get your kids to change into play clothes as soon as they get home.

This last point will prevent further marks or spillages because, at the end of the day, your child is likely to frequently come home from school covered in all manner of stains ‒ grass, dirt, food, sticky juice, or ink, to name a few.

Home cleaning service SweepSouth has compiled a handy guide for parents to refer to when they encounter stubborn stains, courtesy of the company’s experienced SweepStars.

Clean the green: One of the most common marks found on school and sports clothes is grass stains. A simple wash won’t always lift them, but fortunately, a mix of vinegar and baking soda will. Just mix a little of each to form a paste and rub onto the stain or use an old toothbrush to scrub the spot pre-washing.

Fight the food: Many food stains will come out easily, but greasy marks can be tricky. If it’s been set a while though, a little-known trick is to dab the stain with dish soap (the ultimate grease remover). Then wash with your regular detergent.

Punish the plastics: It’s not just uniforms that can get stained. Plastic lunch boxes are not immune to grease and can become yellow over time. Be sure to always wipe Tupperware clean before washing with soap and warm water. For stains and stubborn grease, first clean with vinegar diluted with warm water or rub over with a lemon wedge.

De-stink the socks: Socks get smelly after a long day of classes, after-school activities and sports. But you can banish the odour, which can often linger even after washing with the toughest detergents, by soaking socks in warm water and vinegar. Then wash and dry in the sun.

Strike out the ink: A broken pen can result in stains on clothes, in backpacks, or even all over your furniture at home. Be warned, chucking the item in the wash can set this stain for good. Try to lift stains that are still wet with salt or cornstarch. For dried stains, try a little nail polish remover.

These tips will not only save you time and make your life easier, but they’ll certainly help you beat the back-to-school blues!

This article was first published by Get It Joburg West on the 16th January 2019.