Clothing & Shoes at Preschool

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Disappearing items at preschool

Nov 2010

My 3-year old daughter is attending a preschool where our personal items seem to ''disappear'' frequently.

I have lost multiple BPA-free sippy cups/bottles with her name written on them and spare clothing (underwear, pants, shirt). Today was the last draw. Her warm winter coat has gone missing. It was expensive.

How do I address this issue with the school? Everytime an item has gone missing I have asked around for it, asked the director and teachers, etc. They say they will look for it and then the topic is dropped. I go out and buy a replacement. Tired of the fairy snatchers

Once my son's jacket disappeared. It turned out a nanny had mistaken it for her sittee's jacket as it was similar (blue fleece). It turned up but it took a few days. Maybe talking to the other parents will help turn up some of your stuff. I know I am guilty of just keeping some stray plastic forks and spoons that come home in my child's lunchbox on occasion--I don't know what to do with them. Maybe you can organize a big lost and found box & get everyone to look around their house for stuff that's not theirs. Or just send cheap stuff to school if that's the only solution. anon

I had one kid who never lost anything at any school, preschool through high school. My other one, well, he has lost many items! some of it is the kid, some of it is the school, and some of it is other parents. During preschool years, as soon as our extra clothes disappeared from school or were seen on other children, I refused to replace. When the school complained, I responded with my list of missing items and explained that i would not be supplying the entire school with extra clothes! We made sure the child who was prone to losing jackets never went to school wearing anything but the cheapest Target jacket. Those never seemed to disappear but get the kid a nice jacket and it was gone instantly. Honestly, I think other parents take them. I once caught another parent putting my kid's clothing on her kid at school. Bottom line, don't send any belongings to school that you aren't willing to lose. Fortunately it's hard for them to lose the child! been there, shop target now

Preschool is when it starts, but I am here to tell you that it continues for the next 15 years, depending on how forgetful your kid is (mine are very forgetful.) And it's not just at school, but also at summer camp, on play dates, at sleepovers, and on family vacations. I wouldn't be so sure your daughter's posessions are being snatched. Usually the item has been set down by the child in some non-standard place and either no one has noticed (yet), or another child has picked it up, or the carpool parent grabbed it by mistake, or who knows. Over the years I have ended up with a variety of other childrens' jackets, sweaters, shoes, pillows, rain pants, hoodies, water bottles, baseball caps, etc.. I always do due diligance to try to find the owner, but there is only so much someone can do to track down the owner. And there is always the day when you clean out the closet and find that jacket that's been in there for who-knows-how-long and came from who-knows-where! You said your child's things were labelled, but labels come off, or go unnoticed. You should see the lost and found boxes at a big summer camp program like Cal Blue Camp - after just a few weeks, there will be 6 or 8 big boxes overflowing with hoodies, water bottles, lunch boxes, swim goggles, towels, caps. The staff puts on regular fashion shows of lost stuff to try to jog the kids' memories about their lost stuff!
Anyway, here are some tips I have learned over the years with three kids:

  1. Name and phone number on every item that leaves your house.
  2. Nothing leaves the house that would cause upset if it is lost (very important for toys!)
  3. Always inventory, every day, when you pick her up. You are more likely to find it on the day it went missing than 2 weeks from today.
  4. Check the lost-and-found, and keep checking back - it may have been stuffed behind a shelf and not found for a couple days before it made it into the L
  5. Check the playground, especially out of the way places.
  6. Look through ALL the cubbies, not just your kid's. Sometimes a helpful parent picks something up off the floor and stuffs it into the nearest cubby.
  7. Don't bother asking your kids who that jacket belongs to - they don't know. Send out a few emails to the parents of kids who come to your house.


Daughter coming home filthy from preschool

Oct 2008

Our 4-yo daughter started preschool last month, and frankly, we're shocked at how filthy her clothes are by the time we pick her up. Is this normal? Does it get better? Obviously she's a child so she's not paying attention to dirt and cleanliness, plus the school prides itself on its indoor/outdoor space, but whoo! And she's one of the older kids!

No amount of washing seems to get them clean again. i wouldn't care so much if she didn't insist on wearing all her nicest clothes. My husband also noticed that the animals' cages aren't very clean, and as for washing nap-time linens, every family is on their own.

Just wondering if this is par for the course and when we'll be able to look at our child again without jaws dropping at the end of the day! also - any washing tips would be mightily appreciated!! pigpen is my daughter

I'm always a little embarrassed by the homeless look about my child when we fetch him at the end of the day. It is par for the course to wash your own nap linens. I actually prefer this to not knowing that they've been washed. I'd also prefer the faculty watch the kids and not worry about our laundry. As for the filthy kids - as much as I'd prefer a clean face, at least, they all look homeless, and I take it as a sign that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Regarding the laundry - I make a magic potion of spray and wash and then quickly scrub powdered oxy clean over that. If the stain looks challenging - like dried tempra paint - I add enough water to activate the oxyclean and then let the article sit for at least an hour, but sometimes over night. I've successfully removed the fine granite dust of Yosemite, paints, blood, other bodily substances (think breastfed infant), yogurt, toothpaste, caked on mud, grass stains, ... And when I say lightly scrub, I mean just get the oxyclean to stick. Best of luck. sarah

Forgive me here, but I think kids probably should come home dirty from preschool -- it means they are playing hard, learning, and having a good time. It's healthy. My son did every day for the two years he was there -- shoes full of sand, shirt covered with paint, dirt everywhere -- that's how I knew he was having a good experience. You'd probably be most successful if you sorted out some clothes that were ''preschool clothes'' and only let her choose from those, not from her very nicest clothes (hide those until you want her to wear them). Also, invest in a whole lot of oxyclean and spray and wash. Saturate her clothes when they come off, and accept that she's just not going to be pristine. Karen

My daughter also comes home from preschool filthy (and she's only there for 1/2- day!). To me it means that her teachers are helping her to focus on the things that matter for her age. She should be getting her hands into everything. Bummer for me that her hands then wipe on her clothes, but that's not what is important for her development. (Our school uses washable paint, so it's a bit easier to get out -- ask your teachers if they can too.) She should be digging, running, sliding, spinning and falling without thinking about her clothes. Dirt & grass stains are hard to get out, but not impossible (google it).

Your daughter is doing what she needs to be doing. Hide her nice clothes that you really don't want her to get messy at school. The only visible clothes choice for school should be okay with you. Talk to your daughter about school-clothes and week-end clothes (or whatever you want to call it). If you are worried about the cleanliness of the school, then talk to the teachers about how you can help. I'm sure they would love parent volunteers to help periodically with cleaning animal cages. Messy means busy and engaged in preschool

When my kids are dirty I think they've had a good day.........I would try to establish that there is a routine for good handwashing and also establish a bin of clothes that are ok for preschool. Other than that just go with the flow anon

Hands on messy outdoor play is great for kids. I was always thrilled when my kids were filthy after preschool. Send her in play clothes--you don't have to give her a choice about that. You can give her a choice of two playclothes outfits, or she could wear the ones she has already stained. Kids Need Dirt Time

From the perspective of judging the preschool, as long as her face and hands are clean, they are doing what they should. As you know, kids love to get dirty. I just expect that my son has a good wipe down a few times a day so he doesn't have the morning's snack still on his face.

As for you guys... maybe just let her pick out some school clothes that aren't expensive? Maybe give her some options that you pick out? ''Which one of these two outfits do you want to wear?'' Jenny

When I used to pick up my son from preschool, I knew how good his day was by how dirty he was. The more dirt, the more fun. I am a preschool teacher at a developmental preschool. Hands on exploration means mess. And, with so many kids, no teacher can keep them all clean. Last week my kids got covered in paint, soapy water, worms and dirt. They learned and had fun while doing it.

Send your kid to school clothes that are comfortable and that you don't care about. My daughter would only wear ''fancy dresses'' to school so we bought them used, used hand-me-downs, or bought them at costco. She wore the same ''fancy'' dresses to school over and over again and they were all ruined by the end of the school year. And, she loved preschool. - a preschool teacher

I can't speak to the dirty animal cages and general condition of your child's pre-school, but I'd say that there is often a direct relationship between how dirty pre-schooolers are and how much fun they had that day. A big mess equals a lot of fun. Try to send her in some clothes that you don't mind getting dirty or hold out a few outfits for non-pre-school occasions, give her a bath regularly and don't worry about it. It's part of being a kid. anon

Sounds like a great pre-school. Your daughter is actively engaged and playing hard. If you're worried about her ruining her clothes, insist that she wear ''school clothes'' aren't too special. You could take her to a thrift store and let her pick out some inexpensive clothes she likes that you won't worry about ruining. another Mom

my 2 year old boy has days where he comes home covered in dirt and his shoes full of sand. as annoying as it is to clean up after i know that it means he had a great day digging in the dirt and building with sand toys. the best spot cleaner i've found is oxiclean - spray it on when you take the clothes off the kid and use regular detergent. And I stopped buying white shirts for my son - those never come clean. good luck. rockridge mom of 2

I guess every family has their standards of cleanliness, but my advice is to relax and let your child enjoy pre-school. My daughters at age wanted to wear their dresses, but still enjoyed getting messy. It's what pre-schoolers do, as far as I am concerned. I wish I could go to pre-school sometimes. When I would pick them up, I would notice their clothes and say - ''The messier you get, means the more fun you had.'' Kids at that age learn by doing, touching, digging, pouring, squishing, and getting nice and messy. Hang in there. Jeanne

Really, I think it depends on the Preschool. Some spend lots of time outside getting dirty, others are very neat and clean. I would talk with her teacher and learn more about her day. You might need to find a school that meet your needs better. Anon

First, I would make her ''nicest clothes'' unavailable for selection. You can either explain this or just do it. Second, understand that it is normal for kids to get dirty when they play. Third, OxyClean spray is great! Just follow the directions on the bottle. Fourth, at our school, we are also on our own as far as laundering naptime linens. Fifth, you might volunteer to help out with cleaning the pet cages. I am sure the staff would really appreciate it! anon

The short answer: Get used to it! When my son started preschool a year ago, I too, was horrified at the destruction of his clothes. Many stains just do not come out - even some ''washable'' paints! I, and most parents, just give up. Don't let your child wear ''nice'' clothes to school. My son now wears a lot of $2 sweats from Walmart and clothes from resale shops. Part of the fun and joy of being in preschool is making huge messes and not worrying about the consequences. Don't Sweat the Mess

I would take it as a sign she is having a really great childhood! Actively exploring and playing is the best learning she could be experiencing right now. Have separate ''playclothes'' or ''school clothes'' which she can choose from- and a few others just for dress-up or occasions when you are going out somewhere kept in a separate box or otherwise out of sight when she is picking her school clothes. We used to buy entire wardrobes at Thrifttown for under $30, cute clothes in good condition, then I didn't have much anxiety when they became permanently stained or trashed. Also your child may be a tactile/ kinesthetic learner and just be more inclined to immerse herself in every substance around her- my 7 year old is a messy eater and would only use her hands to eat if she could (partly because she is so interested in textures) whereas her 11 year old sister ate neatly even as a baby and toddler. good dirt

I think this is pretty normal. Truthfully, I'm happy when my kids are dirty after a full day of preschool - it tells me that they've been busy and engaged with all the activities of the day (sand, dirt, water, paint, food ...) - and it gives us lots to talk about on the way home! (Tell me about why your hands are purple!!!) If they were too clean I might worry that they just sat in the corner all day ...

It might help you to separate out what your concerns are here. Remember, dirty clothes (from playing, not from peeing or whatever) are not really unhygenic. They won't hurt your daughter in any way, it just looks bad. Dirt doesn't make a kid sick. If it bothers you, you can get in the habit of bringing an extra pair of clothes if you have to go somewhere directly after preschool, and/or trying to get your daughter in the habit of wearing ''play clothes'' to school instead of her nice things.

If you are concerned about hygiene in the school, that's a different matter. I would take it upon myself to wash naptime sheets regularly if your school doesn't do that, and watch that they do clean up accidents that ARE unhygenic. For example, they should change your child's clothes promptly if she pees or throws up, they should try to keep her nose wiped, etc. I can't speak to the issue of animal cages directly, but unless the kids are directly handling the animals and/or their cages, I doubt that a dirty fish tank is a big deal.

You will also want your preschool to be attentive to the degree to which dirty clothes might bother your daughter. Some kids don't like to be in dirty clothes, and they should be helped to change if they are upset.

But if you're the only one who's bothered, and if it's mostly dirt on her clothes and not a substance that can cause illness, again, I would take it as a good sign that your daughter is enjoying her preschool! mom of 2 in preschool

My son was a pigpen at that age (and younger), and still attract dirts, mud, grass stains, and blood stains from skinned knees and elbows--I stopped buying new clothing (except occasionaly from Target)and found surprisingly high quality resale or consignment stuff around town (even Salvation Army, which surprised me, never having tried it before) so I could stop worrying about ruining expensive things, even though much of it was nice, brand name stuff that my son loved. I also became a devotee of OxyClean non-bleach powder for pre-soaking everything my son wore (a scoop or two in a 1/2 full washer of hot for light or warm for dark clothes, and soak for 20-30 minutes before washing; DON'T MACHINE DRY anything still stained when it comes from the washer, as that sets stains and make them harder to remove. Air dry the garment and let your child wear it stained before treating and pre-soaking again, or just treat it directly on the stain with laundry soap, rub in well, and wash again. I still use OxyClean in every load now that the main thing he makes filthy are his white baseball pants (3 times a week, because even at home, he practices in the white pants which need to look good by Sunday game time), and it works true wonders. The other thing I became fond of was a box of unscented handwipes, so even if his clothing was filthy, it was easy to wipe his face and hands if we had to be in public for awhile (or eat a snack in the car on the way home).

Mainly, I separated my son's love of dirt and grass from myself as his mother, and stopped worrying that others would think I wasn't caring for his clothing. When anyone was rude enough to point out to me how filthy he was before I could get him changed, I learned to smile proudly and say, ''Yes, he throws his whole heart, soul and body into everything he does,'' and in time, I came to truly value this part of his personality.

FYI, the redeeming factor for my son was/is how much he LOVES his shower--he likes getting clean almost as much as he likes getting dirty, so now that he's in fourth grade, I find it balances out quite beautifully. He also by his own choice has long hair which he is required to keep clean, and I never have to remind him. So playing hard and getting dirty is not necessarily a reflection of future habits of cleanliness, if you're worried about that (I used to be).

Enjoy her passion for play if you can. Mom of Pigpen Too

Yes, our 3 kids came home every day so dirty I sometimes had them undress on the front porch (they all had baskets for their shoes on the front porch and weren't allowed to wear their shoes in the house). I just chalked it up to being kids and having a lot of fun playing. I kept a couple of nice outfits separate in their closet for when they needed to actually look nice, and during the week they just dressed in crappy clothes so I didn't care if they got dirty or not.

Now my kids are in elementary school and their clothes still get trashed, so I still keep that stash of nice clothes separate.

I suggest you sit down and talk to your daughter about her clothes and explain that since she gets so dirty, and because you have a hard time getting clothes clean again she should dress in really comfortable clothes for preschool and can save her nice clothes for the weekend. Mom of dirty kids

This is perfectly normal and kudos to the school for encouraging the kids to be curious, even if messy. Exploration and experimentatin is an important part of child development. As long as the school is appropriately safe, lighten up and send your daughter to school in appropriate clothes. -- mud and paint are fun

My daughter is a graduate of Aquatic Park School (APS) in Berkeley. One of the things that I was surprised about during the first few months of preschool was not just how dirty her clothes, jackets, shoes and socks were but how stained they got.

AND . . . now that she is 9 years old, I understand how important it was to get THAT dirty. My daughter is in 3rd grade and knows how to burn up her energy playing at recess so she can concentrate in the classroom. She knows how to paint, plant flowers and examine things closely by getting on her knees on the ground. She understands that she is a kinesthetic learning and needs to be actively involved in activities to learn her best. Because she is not afraid to get dirty, she is not afraid to play against the boys in sports, is not afraid of tearing or ripping her clothes to climb trees, build forts or go camping.

I will tell you that we had exclusively two sets of clothes and if we went to a place directly after preschool where we felt she had to look presentable, we brought extra clothes. I also think you should not feel bad about sending your daughter to preschool in stained clothes. The kids don't care, good teachers don't care and your daughter should feel free to learn and explore - - - after all she will have decades of restriction about what to wear and when to wear it - - - she'll have under = decade to be free to explore and be herself regardless of what she wears.

And, I have to say, all of the dirt from APS actually made my daughter healthier and more resistant to colds, flu, etc. This is not just my opinion, but that of our pediatrician. Give me another 3 years of APS and Dirt

A dirty child at the end of a preschool day is a happy child in my book. I wouldn't worry about it. And, if your child ''insists'' on wearing her nice stuff, you need to be the parent and say no if this concerns you. My kids wear clothes they can dirty to school. But, my best cleaning strategy unapolegetically tide with bleach and extra strength shout. Phosphates are needed if you want to clean kid stains. Or, we just live with the stains. Mom to happy, dirty kids

My daughter just started preschool this past September at a play based preschool. Just about every day when I go pick her up, she's rolling around in the sand box. On the days when I work at the school, I see various kids running around in their underwear. It's normal for the kids to want to play with everything the school has to offer. I would just give up trying to have the magazine perfect kids. Let them be. Once they get home, give them a bath and dress them in the nicer clothes when they are with you.

I've just sprayed everything with Shout then wash them in cold as soon as I get the chance to. If it's got paint on it, I let it soak in cold water before washing. And it's okay if some of the stains don't come out. crystal [at]

My kids are the same and my advice is that you can just think that the sptelling of ''joy'' for a ''d-i-r-t''. My advice may seem strange, but here is what I've done that has been the biggest help in this area. We buy EVERYTHING for our two girls at Thriftown! Our family is called ''best dressed'' at our preschool and now elementary school, yet 99% of what my girls wear cost me under $2.00 each. Until I did this, I found myself so shocked and upset worn out from just ONE day on the playground, shirts with stains and torn spots, skirts with hems ripped out. Now, at about $7.00 worth of clothes from head to toe on any day, my girls can play all they want and I can accept their dirt fully as a sign of a great day at school.

Regarding the animal care areas, that's a different story in my opinion. You may want to check into a PetSmart store and ask them about sanitation for children around whatever kind of pet they have in class. Chances are that a dirty cage of any sort is also poor conditions for the dear little animal, so you would be helping everyone. I found PetSmart employees helpful. Good luck and find a Thriftown near you! We go to the one in San Leandro, at something like 134th and E. 14th. All the clothes I buy there for my girls are excellent brands...just be sure you shop there without your kid, it takes longer to sort through to find the best quality.

One last thing, as a result of shopping this way for clothes for our whole family, we are doing a fantastic thing in terms of recycling, giving back, and not following the commercial efforts to get today's children to follow fads. As a result, my girls prefer their used clothing, have never asked me once to take them shopping (they are 7 and 8) and in general, we all see clothes as for fun and function, not to be ''cool'' in or concerned about preserving. leslie

Yes this is normal. Be thrilled she's filthy, she's getting to play. Have her pick out her school clothes and ONLY let her wear those. Use Oxi-clean for the others and throw anything with paint into a tub with hot water and oxi-clean. Every family is generally on their own for nap linens. The cages are probably fine, but if they bother you, ask if you can volunteer to clean them. Taking care of a preschool is an enormous job, there is tons of cleaning to do all the time, and so little time to do it and the planning and the purchasing and the meetings and the, well you get the picture. All for usually less than $20,000 per year. The best schools are the messiest ones, where there is evidence that the children are interacting with materials and nature and each other. Sounds like a great place. I think you are lucky. a grad student in early childhood education

My almost 3-year-old comes home filthy, too, head to toe! I've taken to washing him up at the school when I pick him up just so we don't have to battle over it when we get home. I'm not concerned about the kind of environment he is in--he's just being a kid on a playground.

As for the clothes, the school recommended ''dirt-friendly'' clothes from the start, so we were prepared. Now that a small set is ruined, he just cycles through them on preschool days so nothing else gets ruined, too. (I imagine this is easier with a boy, and a younger child, too, but that's the best we've been able to do!) mom of a grub bug

The animals' cages not being well-kept is a bit worrisome, but everything else you describe is normal. Yes, most preschools expect parents to bring the nap linens home for laundering, most kids frequently come home from preschool absolutely filthy, and you are not supposed to send them in their ''nice'' clothes! Nor would I bother trying to wash out all the stains; she can just contine to wear the laundered-but-stained clothes to preschool. :)

If there are particular items you really want to try to save for nicer-clothing occasions, I recommend soaking in OxiClean for general grime, and using a Spray-n-Wash stain stick treatment on particular spots (marker, paint, mud spatters, etc.) If you have greasy stains from food spills, treat them with dish soap before laundering.

I find that, on any given day, in general, the dirtier my kids' clothes and fingernails are, the more fun they had and often, the more they learned. :) Preschool Veteran

Dear Pigpen My Daughter, As a child I too came home from school filthy and insisted on wearing my dress clothes for play. As a participating parent at pre school I attempted to keep my first daughter clean and dressed in her nicest outfits. Eventually, Kathy, Program Director, offered me an alternative way to look at this. My darling daughter wanted to play and get dirty. I was encouraged to play and get dirty with her. We learned to stomp in puddles, play in the rain, and get dirty. Osh Gosh coveralls for her and sweats for me. Didn't matter if they never got perfectly clean. To this day I love to play in the rain. Pigpen Daddy and Daughter, jim

Is it normal? Indeed! I would even go a step further by saying it's healthy! Your daughter is currently negotiating the social life of a pre schooler; dealing with younger kids, finding appropriate ways to express her ever-complex emotions, experimenting with art materials, discovering the many forms of sand, playing with water, making friends, role playing and building! The last thing she (and you) should be concerned about are her clothes. A child who is thinking about her clothing is not engaged with her peers or her environment. I will say that I would place some clothes ''off limits'' for school b/c they are too nice or too special - just tell her ''I don't want you to wear this to school b/c the last thing you should be worried about is ruining your clothes - let's wear clothes that we both won't mind if at the end of the day they are destroyed.'' This dirtiness won't let up until 1st grade. Go out and get some disposable clothing from old navy and relish when your daughter comes home like Pigpen - that means she has had a successful day learning how the world and people work. -Type A mom who also had to let go!

I think that's normal and to be expected. My almost three-year-old son also comes home with clothes dirty with dirt, paint, food, etc. I figure that means he's having fun! He doesn't stay for naptime, but for those that do, the parents wash the nap linens. I find that the dirt comes out pretty well with washing. I have a front-loader (Kenmore) and use regular detergent (Arm and Hammer seems to work well) and an Oxyclean-type additive (Safeway's generic version of Oxyclean). I always set the wash loads for extra time (wash time 1 hour). Anything with tomato stains goes out in the sun to dry (sunlight obliterates tomato for some reason). Most important, though, is to be less vested in the clothes you send your kid to preschool in. Hand-me-downs, thrift store clothes, and gifts are great for that. And that's pretty much all my son has, so, really, I'm fine with him wearing anything to preschool. The clothes aren't going to fit him forever anyway, and I'd rather he enjoy the clothes, and I enjoy the clothes on him, than worry about making them last forever. Let the clothes go

It's a good sign that your child shows that she has played ''hard'' when she comes home from preschool. Our daughter went to a fantastic preschool, but not once did she come home with as much as a pencil stripe on her. That really bothered me, because it meant that she wasn't getting the free, uncaring play that children need and want. We still loved the school, but we ended up not sending our son there for that exact reason. Our new preschool warns us of the messy play that the kids do and recommend that we don't have them wear nice clothes for that exact reason.

I still like to send him in nice clothes and the ones that don't come clean with the regular wash I soak for about 48 hrs in Oxi Clean. I start a small, hot wash in the washer and throw in 4 scoops of Oxi Clean. Once everything is nicely mixed, I turn off the washing machine and let it sit for 2 days. 95% of the stains are gone after about 48 hrs. Works like a charm! jj

I was amazed at how dirty my kid could get at preschool too, but my thought was always that the dirtier the kid at the end of the day, the more fun he had! Preschools, at least play-based ones, are all about letting the kids explore their worlds, which means mixing water and sand into mud, rubbing their hands in paint, and generally making a mess. They are learning about the world around them by touching, smelling, feeling. The end result is that they get dirty.

When my son's clothes are especially funky, I soak them in OxoBrite, which is a non-chlorine bleach that works amazingly well. I would also recommend that your child have school clothes and then special clothes. Maybe you can set aside some of her ''good clothes'' for times that are not as messy.

You also mentioned that the preschool might not be that clean. This is a totally different issue than your child being dirty at the end of the day. While she might be covered in mud by pick-up time, you want to make sure that she is washing her hands before meals while in school and that the school cleans and sanitizes common areas like bathrooms, sinks, eating areas.

Finally, for your own sanity, I recommend embracing the dirtiness of childhood and being thankful that the truly messy activities are taking place at preschool and not in your living room. :-) Mother of Dirty Kid

If she is spending most of her time outside playing in the dirt, then she is gong to get dirty. Are her hands and face clean when she comes home? That is what I would be worried about (but, I view 'getting really dirty' as a badge of honor earned by my kids). My 3 1/2 year old is always a disaster when she comes home from preschool, but that is just her style. She can get pain all over herself even when wearing a smock My elder who attended the same preschool the year prior always came home reasonably neat, but she just isn't as messy. Regardless, if you can't stand the dirt, then find a new place.

Re: cleaning...I don't know what kind of washer you have, but I have an LG of its settings allows for 'heavily soiled' items. I set it to that, add oxyclean and detergent and let it run its course. I actually got two-year-old mud stains out of the knees of a pair of pants, just last week. -anon

My daughter also comes home filthy from preschool. Sometimes even with paint on her clothes. I just figure she is having fun AND I know not to dress her in her nicest clothes. It is a part of having fun at school. I have found that Oxiclean works best on the stains....soak for up to 6 hours.... No worries