How To Get Food Coloring Stains Out Of Clothing

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I needed to know how to get food coloring stains out of clothing thanks to my son and a little incident with an exploding frosting bag. I won’t go into details (mess! everywhere!) but I will never again wear a light-colored shirt while frosting cookies.

Yes, I should have thought of that beforehand, but it’s one of my favorite shirts… and that made getting the food coloring stains out even more important.

Get Food Coloring Stains Out Of Clothing

Maybe you’re not big on baking — that’s okay. There are still many other ways you might find yourself needing to know how to get food coloring stains out of clothing. Most of them have to do with kids: popsicles, Kool-Aid or soda, and candy all contain food coloring that can leave stains behind.

Or say you made homemade play dough for the kiddies, for instance. Great stuff, and it’s lots of fun on a rainy day, but wow does that stuff stain clothes!

Regardless of how the stain got there, here’s how to get it out.

Bottles of food coloring

How to Get Food Coloring Stains out of Clothing

As with most stains, it’s easier to treat a new spot than one which has already set in. Fortunately, getting either new or old food coloring stains out doesn’t require any specialized products or equipment, just ordinary things you should already have in your cleaning supplies or laundry room.

White fabrics can be immediately laundered with bleach if allowed by the manufacturer’s label. For dark or brightly-colored clothing, follow the steps below.

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Fresh Food Coloring Stains

1. Grab a table knife and scrape off as much of the spot as you can.

2. Press a damp white rag firmly against the stain to transfer dye from the clothing to the rag. Rinse. Using a new section, continue to dab until the spot is gone. (The reason for using a white cloth is to ensure you aren’t transferring color from the rag to your clothes.)

3. When you’ve dabbed away as much dye as possible, soak the stained area in a shallow bowl filled with 1 cup cold water, one tablespoon white vinegar, and one teaspoon liquid dish soap. If necessary, weigh the fabric down with a coffee mug, so it remains immersed in the soapy water.

4. After 15 minutes, rinse it under a cold faucet with the stained side down. The flow of the water will help pull additional dye out of the fabric. Once the stain is completely gone, launder as usual.

5. If the stain persists, move onto the next method without allowing the stain to dry.

Older Food Coloring Stains

1. Combine 1 quart of warm water, one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, and one teaspoon liquid dish detergent in a bowl.

2. Submerge the stained area in this solution, weighing it down if necessary. Allow the fabric to soak for 15 minutes then gently rub it from the back to loosen the dye. Rinse very thoroughly under warm water with the stained side down. Launder immediately.

Did you get food coloring on the carpet?

Naturally, my frosting bag explosion wasn’t limited to splattering just my favorite shirt. The frosting landed on my laminate counter and kitchen rug, and some even got on our popcorn ceiling!

If something like that happens to you, I found out that rubbing alcohol cleans the stains off laminate counters super fast, and these steps to get stains out of carpet worked for my kitchen rug. Don’t ask about that ceiling, though.

More Stain-Busting How-Tos:

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  1. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom says:

    Great tip! I’ve just pinned this so that I can easily find it next time I get a little messy with the food coloring! Visiting from Small Victories Sunday

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks for the Pin, Lisa!

    2. Ashley Welborn says:

      Wouldn’t the knife cut or rip tiny fibers eventually causes a thin spot if not a whole in the fabric ?

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Table knives don’t have sharp tips. You could also use the edge of a spoon or even an old credit card.

  2. Mother of 3 says:

    Good to know; I enjoy frosting cakes and often find a few spots here and there on my clothes. Good luck with your ceiling! I know my mom used to get mold and spots off her ceiling spraying a bleach solution onto our ceiling using a spray bottle; I’m not sure if that would work in this case though.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That’s an excellent tip. I’ll give it a try, and thank you!

  3. lorraine williamson says:

    thank you for the tips will definitely try do you use a particular brand of dish soap or just any dish soap.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I use Dawn Original because that’s the one I always buy. Most liquid dish detergents should work, though. πŸ™‚

  4. Heather Jacobs says:

    Wow thanks for sharing on Keep it Simple, with all the cupcakes and stuff I make I will be using this often instead of tossing the shirt into the rag bin.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Glad to help, Heather. Thanks for hosting!

    2. My daughter has a very expensive sweatshirt that has red dye from a gusher!! The sweatshirt is bright pink and I’m nervous about the color fading. Any tips for color not fading and the stain was there for a couple days before she realized and told me about it. Thank u for any suggestions.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      If it’s an expensive sweatshirt, I recommend taking it to a professional. If you’re determined to DIY it, be sure to stick with cold water to prevent fading.

  5. Excellent tip – we do stuff with food coloring all of the time and without FAIL it gets onto someone’s clothes. Now I can get the stains out thanks to you! πŸ™‚ Pinned!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for the Pin! I’m always happy to help another Katie. πŸ™‚

  6. Katie Berry says:

    You’re welcome! Homemade playdough is such a fun thing to make, especially when you don’t have to worry about it ruining your clothes. πŸ™‚

  7. I have several stained items in my laundry room that I am going to try this technique on. Thanks! Visiting from Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for visiting. I hope these tips help with those stains, Carolyn. πŸ™‚

  8. cherry Mills says:

    Will this work for food color paint!?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It should, but I haven’t personally tried that.

  9. Yes, my favorite pants just got stained with red! Looks a lot like I had a period problem! I really hope i can get it out because how embarrising?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      This should do the trick.

  10. Thanks for the solution ! We were playing with “rubber eggs” (eggs soaked in vinegar and food coloring for 24-72 hours). Shells dissolve and eggs bounce, AND EXPLODE if squeezed! Also, egg coloring is coming up for Easter!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’ve never heard of rubber eggs before and now want to try that! Glad to have helped with the food coloring stains. πŸ™‚

  11. Thank you so much! My son got blue dye all over his new (mostly white) shirt. We had a conversation about asking to use food coloring for projects and keeping it at the table but that didn’t change that his clothes were full of it πŸ™ Found this and was AMAZED at how easily it came out.

    1. Katie Berry says:


  12. Green food dye from Warhead Candy that was in the beige pant pocket and went through a wash and dry cycle…….it came out with the luke warm water, vinegar and some spray n wash blend and soak for 15 mins.

    WOW – Thank you!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Excellent! Those Warheads are tough to deal with.

  13. Diane Austin says:

    Thank you so much for the advice, it worked wonders!!

    As far as your ceiling vinger and water and baking soda as a paste wait 15-20min. Then wipe clean. Hopefully it works I know it did with mine.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Great advice, Diane! I finally dealt with that mess when I renovated the kitchen earlier this year — it was time to get rid of the popcorn ceiling and replace it with knockdown, anyway. πŸ™‚

  14. This worked so well!! I made green cupcakes today and noticed hours later that somehow I wound up with tiny specks of green ALL over my white shirt…I was so worried it was ruined, but after taking it out of the hydrogen peroxide mixture it was already back to normal! Thank you thank you thank you!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad to have been of help, Katrina!

  15. My daughter made home-made bath jellies and I accidentally ended up with bright, neon blue on my new white jeans. I thought they were goners but this took the stains right out! I’m thrilled. Thanks for posting!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad to have been of help! Your bath jellies sound fun. Enjoy!

  16. Jill Evans says:

    Thank you! Worked like a charm. My daughter had yellow and pink icee all over her brand new light pink shirt and it worked great.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      So glad to have helped you rescue that shirt!

  17. Lynn Schmidt says:

    I have my daughters wedding dress stained that she has food coloring dye of purple from her wedding cake from almost 6 years ago now. I can soak it in the solution but I cannot wash it immediately after that or normally dry it! Can I just hang it up to dry after making sure that I rinsed out the dawn well?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      With something like a wedding dress, I’d recommend taking it to a professional dry cleaner.

    2. I called up several places for professional dry cleaning for a wedding dress and it was several hundred dollars to do it. I think I will have her sell it as is and the buyer can take it to the dry cleaners themselves. Thanks.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Hi again, Lynn!

      If she’s not attached to keeping the dress, I think that sounds like a fantastic idea. I’m just reluctant to suggest a solution for something as expensive as a wedding dress since so many brides want to keep theirs and pass it down.

  18. My daughter likes to play with food colouring and gets it on her sheets would it work on sheets

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Bella,
      It should work with sheets, too. πŸ™‚

  19. Autumn Reynolds says:

    Thank you sooooo much ! I was using food coloring and got it in one of my favorite hoodies with this you have saved me ! Thanks!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so happy to have helped! Enjoy your hoodie. ?

  20. WOW!!!!!! This really worked my my dried red food coloring stain on my new clothes. I read other articles and they said you would probably have to throw them out if the stain was dried. But this worked in 10 minutes. Thank you so much!!!!

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