Washing your clothes might seem like a mundane task and something that most people don’t think too much about. However, if you work on a farm, washing your work clothes can be a time-consuming and tedious task. So, what’s the best way to wash clothes you use on the farm?
To wash farm clothes, brush off any visible dirt, and pre-soak them if needed. Treat stubborn stains, and use a suitable detergent to wash them in the machine. Dry the clothes outside if you can, or use an appropriate dryer setting.
In this article, I’ll explain the best way to wash your farm clothes to eliminate the smell and stains. I’ll also reveal a few tips and tricks for taking care of farm clothes so that washing them can be more efficient in the long run. Let’s get started!
1. Pre-Treat and Pre-Brush the Clothes
The first step in cleaning your farm clothes is to remove any visible dirt. Getting rid of any dirt or feces that might have landed up on your clothes is essential because they can become embedded in the fabric and make cleaning more difficult when you place the clothes in the washer. This will also prevent your washing machine from getting clogged by all the dirt.
It’s best to get rid of visible dirt outside so that it doesn’t make a mess inside. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove the dirt, and then give the clothes a good shake.
Pre-treating the clothes is also important because high temperatures in the washer can set the stains into the fabric.
Here’s how to pre-treat your farm clothes:
- Fill a large container or sink with cold water.
- Add some distilled white vinegar, ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda.
- Mix well.
- Soak your clothes in the basin for 30 minutes or up to an hour, depending on how badly stained and smelly they are.
You can also do this in a washing machine if you pick a program that has a pre-soak option.
Using distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide are highly recommended due to the following reasons:
- Distilled white vinegar contains acetic acid that neutralizes alkaline odors and has antimicrobial properties.
- Ammonia is an alkaline solution that neutralizes odors.
- When combined, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide draw out the smell and stains from farm clothes, and the peroxide breaks them down and causes them to evaporate.
2. Treat Stubborn Stains
If, after pre-treating your clothes, there are still stubborn stains, you’ll need to treat them, as they likely won’t be removed in the washer. Treat the stains with a drop of liquid laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid.
Here’s the best process to follow:
- Lay the garment flat, and ensure you have easy access to the stained area.
- Pour the product directly on the stain and rub it with a toothbrush.
- For oil stains, dishwashing liquid is a great fix, but if the stain is a result of protein action like grass or blood, use an enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners are also ideal for getting rid of smells from animals.
- Allow the product to work its magic for around 10 minutes, and then rinse the garment with cold water.
I recommend Zeiff Pro-Grade Multi-Purpose Probiotic Enzyme Cleaner from Amazon. This probiotic enzyme cleaner has an extremely strong proprietary formula that breaks down complex organic proteins, pet stains, hair, grease, fats, and oils.
It’s also effective against odors and is non-corrosive, non-flammable, non-acidic, pH neutral, paraben-free, pet safe, and cruelty-free – a perfect product for a farmer.
3. Choose the Right Detergent and Temperature
After soaking and treating stains, it’s time to wash the farm clothes in the washing machine. Since farm clothes are notorious for being dirty, you’ll need to use a long washing program and a biological or enzymatic laundry detergent.
A long washing program will clean the clothing more thoroughly, while a biological detergent is specially formulated to treat biological stains, such as those from farm animals.
Heavy-duty enzymatic detergents help eliminate unpleasant smells and stubborn stains. To find out more about a suitable detergent for farm clothes, the second half of this article contains some great options for you.
But in short, I recommend Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Laundry Detergent from Amazon. This biodegradable detergent with lavender essential oils is a plant-derived detergent with dirt and stain-fighting enzymes that is gentle on your clothes and tough on grime.
It can be used in high-efficiency (HE) and regular washing machines, and one bottle is enough for 64 loads of laundry. The product is cruelty-free and has a Leaping Bunny certification.
Since bacteria are the primary cause of bad smells, farm clothes need to be washed at a temperature that eliminates them, and 140°F (60°C) or more is ideal.
Of course, check the care label symbols on your clothes before doing that because only natural fibers like cotton can be washed at 140 or 194°F (60 or 90°C).
If you’d like your farm clothes to smell as pleasant as possible after a machine wash, consider adding a scent booster product with the load. Although scent boosters don’t wash clothes, they add fragrance, and are available in various attractive scents. You can buy scent boosters from a grocery store.
When loading the washing machine, ensure you don’t overfill it because this will cause your clothes not to wash properly, adding another unnecessary step to your laundry washing routine. This informative article will show you how much clothes you can put in your washing machine.
4. Use a Specialized Product
Although everything mentioned so far should help with cleaning farm clothes thoroughly, there are a few specialized products that can help immensely if your clothes are still stained after the washing cycle.
To eliminate stains the washing machine couldn’t get rid of, I recommend Goop Multi-Purpose Laundry Stain Remover from Amazon. This nontoxic and biodegradable cleaner removes grease, paint, tar, and industrial soil from your hands and your clothes. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, and leaves your laundry spotless.
Another option is Wildlife Research Gold Clothing Wash Scent Killer from Amazon. This product was created to fight smells while washing clothes, and can hide any scent that wildlife can detect with their sensitive noses, making it perfect for removing the odors you and your loved ones might notice.
5. Dry Your Clothes Outside
To ensure you have eliminated all the unpleasant odors after your farm clothes have been washed, dry them outside on the clothesline, if you live in a climate that allows this.
Although drying farm clothes in a dryer may seem like a much simpler option that involves less work, drying them outside may help eliminate the last traces of odors and the heat from the sun can have an antibacterial and sanitizing effect.
If you live in a climate with dry winters, you can dry your farm clothes outdoors during this time. Here is a fantastic video that explains how to dry your clothes outside in the winter and the variables you need to take into account:
Tips and Tricks for Washing Farm Clothes
Now that you know the best way to wash farm clothes, you might wonder if there’s anything else you can do to keep them as clean as possible.
Below are some helpful tips to consider:
Keep Your Farm Clothes Separate From Your Everyday Clothes
Farm clothes can often smell like farm animals and animal waste. However, they can also have pesticide residue on them. If you bring your farm clothes into your home, you may expose your family to pesticides.
If you can afford it, consider investing in a washing machine only for farm clothes. If not, wash the farm clothes separately from everything else, and use separate laundry baskets. This will also help stop cross-contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter from animal feces and body fluids.
If you wear multiple layers of farm clothing, it’s easier to remove them before entering the house. This will make it easier to keep the house clean and odor-free because the underlying layers are likely to be cleaner. Also, remove your shoes before entering your house.
Avoid Dry Clean-Only Clothes
Dry clean-only clothes will make cleaning your farm clothing a headache. If there’s no way around it, dry-clean-only clothes can be aired out or freshened with a fabric freshener spray, such as Febreze. A fabric softener diluted with water in a spray bottle will have a similar effect.
You can also try Hunters Specialties Scent-A-Way Spray from Amazon. This spray was initially designed for hunters and has odor scrubbers that absorb smelly gasses. It attacks and destroys bacterial odors making it a fantastic choice for all the clothes that can’t be put into the washing machine.
The 7 Best Detergents for Farmers
Obviously, farmers need strong detergents that not only remove stains but blot out strong odors as well.
For the remainder of this article, I will share my list of the best laundry detergent options there are available for farmers.
I have put a lot of weight on detergents with potent formulations so that they will be able to remove most types of stains that are found on farms. I have also focused on detergents that will be able to remove smells and add some scent in case the odors are too stubborn to remove in a single wash.
I have shortlisted my three top picks below, but continue reading if you want to make a more informed decision.
Please note that these links are affiliate links to Amazon and Walmart. This means that I will get a small commission for each sale made when using the links on this page.
These commissions help me run this website, so I greatly appreciate it if you use the links to make your purchases.
1. Meyers Clean Day Laundry Detergent
When it comes to detergents for farmers, this is one of the highest-ranking laundry cleaning agents. According to its makers, Mrs. Meyers, the detergent is “garden-inspired.” And to lend credence to that claim, all its stain-fighting agents are plant-derived, making them as farm-themed as they can get.
But that is not all. The detergent enzymes are tough on stains and also easily clear even the most stubborn farm stench, such as manure or hog smells.
And to mask any remnant of bad odor, the detergent leaves a lingering lavender floral fragrance in the wash.
2. All Free Clear Laundry Detergent
- all free clear is the #1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin.
- Works in all washing machines including high efficiency (HE) washers
- This concentrated formula delivers 2X more cleaning power in every drop vs our standard all free and clear detergent so you don’t have to use as much, while still being gentle on skin.
If you’re looking for a detergent tough on stains, odors, and common animal allergens, look no further. This detergent will make all members of your family with allergic problems breathe easy. That is because All Free Clear Laundry Detergent eliminates 99% of all allergens found on farms.
That includes dog and cat dander, ragweed pollen, and grass or tree pollen, among others. And as its name indicates, it is all free and clear. That means no fragrances, perfume dyes, or any irritating smells.
As for its washing powder, its concentrated formula cleans two times the ordinary detergents. Moreover, the detergent is one of the most budget-friendly and economical, with an 82.5oz bottle loading110 times.
3. Tide Simply Fresh and Clean Laundry Detergent
This detergent is perfect for those with large laundry detergent requirements. And that is why it is packed in a large four-liter container that is sufficient for 89 large loads. But despite the large-sized container package, it is easy to dispense detergent, all courtesy of its ingenious design.
By laying the container on its side, its innovative spout dispenses the detergent into an included measuring cup. Once done, you can safely snap back a spill-free cap, making it one of the most ergonomically designed detergents.
And when it comes to its washing powder, this detergent is the best fit for farm stains and odors. Due to its ultra-concentrated formula, it packs two times the washing power of standard detergents.
4. Woolite Darks Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent
- WOOLITE DARKS DEFENSE is a first of its kind formula that protects synthetics and blends from damage in the wash, perfect for your favorite jeans, leggings, yoga pants, and go-to blouse
- PROTECTS FROM fading, pilling for up to 20 washes and stretching for up to 6 washes
- KEEPS YOUR CLOTHES LOOKING LIKE NEW for up to 20 washes, combination of ingredients to gently clean stains, while protecting your clothes (protects against fading for up to 20 washes)
Due to unique farm activities, some of the clothes are dark-colored. From coveralls, dark T-shirts, and jeans, to mention a few. And due to their frequent laundry with ordinary detergents, they fade fast.
And that is where Darks Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent from Woolite comes in. This detergent is specifically designed to wash dark clothes, preserving their colors by binding chlorine and other bleaching agents from the water.
In addition, it is free of brighteners, and phosphates, making it a gentle detergent on clothes but tough on stains and odors. For the best results, be sure to wash your clothes inside out, and your dark clothes will remain as new.
If you’re struggling to keep your darks looking good, I wrote an article on how to keep them from discoloring here.
5. Gains Botanicals Plant-Based Laundry Detergent
Judging by its formulation, this detergent is designed specifically for farm stains and odors. The Gains Botanical Plant-Based Laundry Detergent boasts an array of USDA-certified 65% plant-based active ingredients in its formula.
That includes plant-derived solvents, softeners, suds reducers, enzymes, and stabilizers, among others. With all these ingredients, this detergent surely packs a cleaning punch. It obliterates every type of stain on the farms imaginable; milk stains, sheep odors, and tea spill stains, among others.
Speaking of tea, you can opt for farm-themed white tea and lavender or orange blossom vanilla as some of its flavors.
6. Natures Miracle Laundry Boost
- TOUGH ON STAINS AND ODORS: This stain and odor remover is tough on cat urine, feces, vomit, drool and other organic stains and odors.
- MULTI-SURFACE USE: When used and stored as directed, this product is safe for use on carpets, hard floors, furniture, fabrics and more.
- SAFE FOR PETS AND HOME: We’ve been loved by pet parents for over 35 years, so we know the importance of having effective stain and odor remover that, when used and stored as directed, is safe to use around pets.
The detergent is specially designed for animal and pet-based stains, making it one of the best fits for farmers. Whether you’re cleaning cat poop, vomit, dog feces, or drool, the detergent will blot them out since its formulation is designed for organic stains.
Moreover, it is a product that has been used for over 35 years and has been proven animal and pet safe. Its formulation is based on bacteria-born enzymes that break down organic substrates.
And after the wash, it freshens your laundry with a mild citrus scent.
Furthermore, the detergent is versatile and can be used to clean all types of items found in the forms. You can use it to wipe garage floors, furniture upholstery, pigs, or dog kennels.
If you’re struggling a lot with feces odor, I wrote a separate list of the best detergents to pick for that here.
7. Seventh Generation Ultra Concentrated Laundry Detergent
- Our Easy Dose Auto Dosing Technology measures the right amount-every time. Just flip the bottle, give a firm squeeze, and you’re done. One squeeze is all you need.
- Ultra-concentrated, ultra-convenient laundry detergent: 66 loads in a compact 23oz bottle that’s easy to store, and easy to feel good about.
- Small dose, big clean: 60% less plastic, 50% less water, and 75% lighter than our 100 fl oz bottle.
This detergent is another of the best detergents for farmers. As a heavy-duty detergent, it breaks down 99% of all the stains found on most farms, thanks to its advanced enzyme-based formula.
Furthermore, with the ultra concentration, the detergent is a typical example of going a little farther. All you need is a little amount per load, eventually getting 66 loads from a 23 oz bottle.
Measurement of the detergent is also a breeze. With its easy auto-dosing, all you have to do is flip the bottle and squeeze into the drum the precise amount you need.
And considering it is hypoallergenic, and contains no harmful fragrances and brighteners, surely this detergent is a great farmers’ choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Qualities of a Good Detergent for Farmers?
Stains found on farms are not only stubborn but odorous, and as such, a good detergent should have a heavy-duty formulation to fight these types of odors and stains. Additionally, it should contain active organic ingredients to avoid harming the environment and should be certified hypoallergenic.
What Active Detergents to Avoid?
Best detergents should be USDA-safe-use-approved. That means they should be free from all agents. All detergents that may contain allergens or are not eco-friendly should be avoided.
Is Laundry Detergents Toxic?
All laundry detergents are toxic. Therefore, keep them away from food or animal feeds to avoid contamination. Also, properly dispose of all empty detergent containers to avoid both animal and human poisoning. Remember burning them also produces toxic fumes and should be avoided.
Living on a farm and working with machines and animals presents a new set of challenges for keeping your clothes nice and clean.
The most important thing is to treat the clothes according to the problem before you – plain old vinegar can help eliminate the smell, and specialized products like Simple Green or Quick-N-Bright will take care of the stains.
In combination with a wash on the hot cycle, a strong detergent, and some air drying under the sun, all your smelly problems will be a thing of the past.
I wrote an article on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.
I’m an expert organizer and a big laundry enthusiast. I’ve created this website and Organizing TV on YouTube to share practical guides about some of my favorite subjects; making clothes fit well, doing laundry and folding clothes effectively, and organizing wardrobes with a focus on saving space since I live in a home with limited space myself. You can learn more about me here.