A man pulls at his shirt to show a dollop of mustard that will leave a stain if not removed from his clothingPin

Home Remedies for Food Stains: My Crazy Big List

Pinterest Hidden Image

When I was young, my solution for food stains on clothes was dying things progressively darker after each new one. And that explains why my entire wardrobe in the 90s was black.

If that’s too extreme for you, read on for my go-to home remedies to remove beverage and food stains, both fresh and dried. Because, let’s face it, most of us have grown out of our goth phase.

Skip To Guidelines • First StepsBerriesBuffalo SauceChocolateCoffee and TeaEggsEggnogFood DyeFried ChickenIce CreamKetchup and BBQ SauceMustardPopsicleRed WineTaco GreaseTomato SaucePizzaTips for Effective Stain Removal

Guidelines for Food Stain Removal

There are two important things to keep in mind before you even start trying to get food stains out of your clothes:

  1. Do not use heat unless the treatment calls for it. Heat can make many stains permanent, and that includes hot water, the dryer, and even direct sunlight.
  2. The item must be washable. If it’s not, there are still steps you can take to minimize the staining until you can seek a dry cleaner’s help. (More on that in the next section.)

First Steps to Remove Food Stains from Clothes

Acting fast can keep fresh food spills from permanently staining your clothes.

  • For wet stains: Blot with a white paper towel to soak up the spill.
  • For greasy stains: Blot, then cover with salt, baking soda, or cornstarch to absorb the grease. Brush it away after 5 minutes.
  • For non-washable items only: Blot then put the item in a resealable plastic bag, stain side out, and freeze it to keep the stain from setting. Take it to a dry cleaner within 24 hours.

Removing Berry Juice Stains

The natural pigments and tannins in berry juice easily bind with fabric fibers which is why it is so challenging to remove if you don’t act promptly.

Fresh Berry Juice Spills

  1. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Rub a little dish detergent on the stain.
  3. Rinse under cold water.

Dried Berry Juice Stains

  1. Boil water and stretch the fabric over a bowl.
  2. Pour boiling water through the stain from a foot above.
  3. If discoloration remains, dab with lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide and rinse after 5 minutes.
  4. Launder right away once the stain is gone.

Removing Buffalo Sauce Stains

Buffalo sauce contains oils, pigmented cayenne pepper, and often food dyes. This combination makes it a stubborn stain. So, besides soap and vinegar, you’ll need a lot of patience to remove Buffalo sauce stains on your clothes.

Fresh Buffalo Sauce Spills

  1. Blot excess stain with a clean paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain; wait 10 minutes.
  3. Shake off baking soda. Reapply if the area is still damp.
  4. Rub a small amount of dish soap into both sides of the stain.
  5. Leave for 5 minutes to break down the oils.
  6. Rinse garment under cold water, stain facing down.

Dried Buffalo Sauce Stains

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and cold water in a shallow bowl.
  2. Submerge the stained area for 30 minutes to loosen dyes and pigments.
  3. Rinse the spot with cold water after soaking.
  4. Apply dish soap to the stain; wait 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse again, ensuring the stain faces down.
  6. Air dry the item. If the stain persists, repeat starting with the vinegar soak. Otherwise, launder as usual.

Did You Know?

The unique flavor of buffalo sauce comes from a clever combination of cayenne pepper and melted butter, often with a secret ingredient or two added by chefs.

Removing Chocolate Stains

Chocolate stains are a mixture of milk protein solids and oils that resist water. Removing chocolate stains from clothing requires dissolving the oils then lifting the stain.

Get Melted Chocolate out of Clothing

  1. Use an ice cube to harden melted chocolate.
  2. Lift the hardened bits with a spoon or knife.

Fresh Chocolate Stains

  1. Gently remove excess chocolate with a spoon or dull knife edge.
  2. Apply liquid dish soap to both sides of the stain.
  3. Let the soap sit for 5 minutes to dissolve oils and proteins.
  4. Rinse the garment with cold water, stain facing down. Reapply soap as necessary.
  5. Launder normally once the stain is gone.

Removing Coffee and Tea Stains

Coffee and tea contain tannins, which makes them related to red wine—a notorious source of stains. Getting coffee and tea stains out of clothing can be just as tough.

Fresh Coffee or Tea Spills

  1. Blot with a paper towel.
  2. Soak the area in a bowl of milk for 30 minutes to loosen the stain.
  3. Rinse with cold water.

Dried Coffee or Tea Stains

  1. Soak the stained area in equal parts white vinegar and cold water in a bowl for 15 minutes, rubbing the spot now and then.
  2. Rinse.
  3. Check the stain before laundering and repeat if needed.

Did You Know?

Both coffee and tea have been used for centuries as natural dyes, giving fabrics a range of warm, earthy tones.

Removing Egg Stains

The reason egg stains are so tough to get out of clothing is because they’re a combination of proteins from the egg whites and fats in the yolk. And if the hen’s diet was high in corn or alfalfa, the yolk will contain dark yellow compounds that are even more prone to staining.

Fresh Egg Spills

  1. Gently remove excess egg with a spoon or dull knife.
  2. Blot with a white paper towel.
  3. Rinse the fabric stain-side down with cold water to remove more egg, avoiding heat to prevent setting the protein.
  4. Work dish soap into both sides of the stain with your fingers.
  5. After 10 minutes, rinse again and air dry.

Dried Egg Stains

  1. Rub dish soap into both sides of the area with an old toothbrush.
  2. After 10 minutes, rinse from the back of the stain under cold water.
  3. Blot the area with a clean paper towel until it is barely damp.
  4. Apply rubbing alcohol to both sides of the spot with a paper towel.
  5. After 10 minutes, rinse with cold water and air dry.

Removing Eggnog Stains

Eggnog stains are like egg stains, but with the added challenge of milk, sugar, and spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, which can also cause discoloration. No wonder removing eggnog stains from clothing can be such a chore!

Fresh Eggnog Spills

  1. Remove as much eggnog as possible without spreading it using a spoon or dull knife.
  2. Blot the area with a white paper towel to absorb the liquid.
  3. Rinse the fabric under cold running water to flush out as much of the eggnog as possible.
  4. Apply a mixture of liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide to the stain and rub it in with your fingers.
  5. Let it sit for 10 minutes to break down the proteins and fats.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  7. Air dry the garment and check for any remaining stain.

Dried Eggnog Stains

  1. Scrub both sides of the stain with dish soap using an old toothbrush.
  2. After 10 minutes, rinse under cold water.
  3. Blot the area with a clean paper towel until it is almost dry.
  4. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain with a clean paper towel or cotton ball.
  5. After 10 minutes, rinse under cold water and air dry again.
  6. Once the stain is gone, launder as usual.

Did You Know?

Eggnog, a festive holiday favorite, dates back to medieval Britain and was originally a hot, milky, ale-like drink.

Removing Food Dye Stains

Food dyes can quickly leave their mark, especially if you let them dry. For best luck removing food dye stains on clothes, keep the spill wet. If you can’t treat it right away, drench the spot with water and freeze it. Then treat it as a fresh spill within 24 hours.

Fresh Food Dye Spills

  1. Blot with a damp paper towel to keep the dye wet.
  2. Combine 1 cup cold water, one tablespoon white vinegar, and one teaspoon liquid dish soap in a shallow bowl.
  3. Soak the stained area in the mixture for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse from the back of the stain under cold water.
  5. Air dry and repeat if needed. Otherwise, launder as usual.

Dried Food Dye Stains

  1. Mix equal parts dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Soak the stained area in this mixture for 10 minutes, rubbing the area with your fingertips every few minutes.
  3. Rinse under cold water and air dry.
  4. Repeat if needed, otherwise launder as usual.

Removing Fried Chicken Stains

The irresistible crunch of fried chicken is often due to a double-dipping technique. But that means the first bite might leave you trying to remove grease stains on your clothes long after dessert.

Fresh Fried Chicken Grease Spills

  1. Blot wet grease with a paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle cornstarch on the stain, rubbing it in gently to absorb the grease.
  3. After 10 minutes, if the cornstarch is discolored, brush it off and reapply until it remains unchanged.
  4. Work liquid dish soap into the stain on both sides with your fingertip.
  5. Rinse with cold water after 5 minutes.
  6. Let the item air dry and inspect it—grease stains sometimes reappear when fabric is dry. Retreat with dish soap until the grease stain is completely gone, then launder as usual.

Dried Fried Chicken Grease Stains

  1. Sprinkle cornstarch on the greasy spot and rub it in with an old toothbrush.
  2. Spread a sheet of plastic cling film over the area and weigh it down with a book.
  3. After 10 minutes, lift the book and brush away the cornstarch.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Apply dish soap to both sides of the stain and rub it in with an old toothbrush.
  6. After 10 minutes, rinse the stain with warm water from behind.
  7. Air dry and inspect. Repeat if needed.

Removing Ice Cream Stains

Although the fats and sugars can leave a sticky mess, it’s not hard to remove most ice cream stains from clothes.

Fresh Ice Cream Spills

  1. Lift away excess with a spoon’s edge.
  2. Rinse the stain side down with cold water.
  3. Apply dish soap to both sides, wait 5 minutes to break down the oils.
  4. Rinse stain side down, check the spot, and launder if it’s gone.

Dried Ice Cream Stains

  1. Combine equal parts white vinegar and cold water in a shallow bowl.
  2. Soak the stained area for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Rub liquid dish soap or laundry detergent in with an old toothbrush.
  5. Rinse from the back of the stain.
  6. Air dry and inspect.

Removing Ketchup and BBQ Sauce Stains

Quick, what do ketchup and BBQ sauce have in common? Besides being delicious on burgers, they both contain lycopene, which water alone isn’t enough to remove. You’ll need patience to remove these stains from clothing, but it’s not impossible.

Fresh Ketchup or BBQ Sauce Spills

  1. Scrape off excess sauce with a spoon or knife.
  2. Run cold water through the fabric stain side down to lessen the stain.
  3. Treat with liquid detergent or dish soap, leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly in cold water and air dry.

Dried Ketchup or BBQ Sauce Stains

  1. Combine equal parts white vinegar and cool water in a shallow bowl.
  2. Soak the stained area in this solution for 10 minutes.
  3. Rinse from the back of the stain with cold water.
  4. Apply dish soap to both sides of the stain and scrub with an old, soft toothbrush
  5. Wait 10 minutes then rinse with cool water.
  6. Air dry and inspect. Repeat if needed.

Removing Mustard Stains

Yellow mustard contains a spice called turmeric, which is such a vivid yellow and so prone to staining that it also serves as a clothing dye. (It makes an amazing Golden Milk Latte, though!) So, fresh or dried, patterned shirts or white, you’ll use the same steps to remove mustard stains from clothes.

Yellow Mustard Stains, Fresh or Dried

  1. Flush the stain with cold water from the back to remove mustard.
  2. Mix equal parts liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide equally.
  3. Apply this mix to both sides of the stain and wait for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse with cold water, then launder if the stain is out.
  5. For persistent stains, repeat the steps.

Did You Know?

Mustard, one of the world’s oldest condiments, was believed to have medicinal properties by ancient civilizations, including the Greeks and Romans.

Removing Popsicle Stains

Cold popsicles and hot days go together perfectly, but that’s also a recipe for drips on your favorite clothes. Here’s how to remove those colorful popsicle stains from your clothing whether they just happened or have already set in.

Fresh Popsicle Spills

  1. Blot with a dry paper towel to absorb the liquid.
  2. Mix half a teaspoon of liquid dish detergent with a cup of cold water.
  3. Dip a clean cloth in the soapy water and blot the stain.
  4. Rinse with cold water.
  5. Air dry and inspect.

Dried Popsicle Stains

  1. Dampen both sides of the stained area with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Wait 10 minutes for the alcohol to loosen the stain.
  3. Rinse from the back of the stain with cold water.
  4. Air dry and inspect.
  5. Launder as usual once the stain is gone.

Removing Red Wine Stains

Removing red wine stains from clothes is one of the few treatments you’ll need hot water for—boiling, in fact. That’s because red wine contains tannin, a plant-based compound that binds to fabric fibers. Boiling water helps dissolve that bond.

Fresh Red Wine Spills on Clothing

  1. Blot with a paper towel, changing towels repeatedly.
  2. Cover the spill with table salt.
  3. After 5 minutes, use a spoon to lift away the salt or vacuum it up.
  4. Repeat applications, waiting 5 minutes each time, until the salt does not change colors from absorbing the wine.
  5. Combine equal parts dish soap and hydrogen peroxide and apply this to the stain.
  6. After 5 minutes, rinse with cold water.
  7. Air dry and inspect. Repeat as needed, otherwise launder as usual.

Dried Red Wine Stains on Clothes

  1. Stretch the stained garment over a bowl, stain facing down, and secure it.
  2. Pour boiling water from a kettle held a foot above onto the stain to flush out the wine.
  3. Once the fabric is cool enough to handle, apply dish soap to both sides of the stain.
  4. Work the soap in with an old toothbrush then let it sit for 5 minutes dissolving the stain.
  5. Rinse with cool water.
  6. Launder the item if the stain is removed; if not, repeat the boiling water step.

Removing Taco Grease Stains

Taco Tuesday shouldn’t leave messy spots on your clothes come Wednesday. This stain is a combination of colorful spices and grease, which can bind the pigmented spices to the fabric. Here’s how to get that spicy food stains out of your clothes using things you’ll find in your bathroom.

Fresh Taco Grease Spills

  1. Place foil under the stain so it doesn’t spread to unstained areas.
  2. Blot grease with paper towels.
  3. Cover with cornstarch then a layer of plastic wrap weighed down by a book.
  4. After 5 minutes, remove plastic and discard cornstarch.
  5. Rub liquid dish detergent into both sides of the stain. Let sit for 5 minutes to loosen the stain.
  6. Rinse from the back of the stain under cold running water.
  7. Air dry and inspect; if the stain remains, repeat treatment before laundering.

Dried Taco Grease Stains

  1. Combine equal parts liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Add enough baking soda to form a runny paste.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to work the paste into both sides of the stain.
  4. Wait 10 minutes for the mixture to loosen the stain.
  5. Rinse stain-side down under warm water.
  6. Air dry and inspect. Repeat if needed, otherwise launder as usual.

Did You Know?

Tacos, now one of the most popular foods in the United States, were introduced to the country by Mexican migrants coming to work on the railroads and in silver mines.

Removing Tomato Sauce Stains

Many people reach for dish soap right away to remove tomato sauce stains from clothes, but that only dissolves the oil without removing the red pigment. For best results, I start with a vinegar soak and move on to a combination of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap if needed.

Fresh Tomato Sauce Spills

  1. Blot with a paper towel.
  2. Apply salt or baking soda to pull out more of the sauce. After 5 minutes, brush the powder away.
  3. Flip the fabric over and run cold water through the spot to push out more of the mess.
  4. Soak the stained area in a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and cold water for 15 minutes, rubbing every 5 minutes.

Dried Tomato Sauce Stains

  1. Combine equal parts dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Saturate the stained area with this mixture and scrub it in with an old toothbrush.
  3. After 5 minutes, rinse from the back of the stain under cold water.
  4. Air dry and inspect. Repeat if needed or launder as usual if the stain is gone.

Removing Pizza Cheese Stains

Ever had the entire layer of golden, melted cheese jump off your slice of pizza and onto your shirt? Pizza stains often include a combination of fats and food coloring from the tomato sauce or pepperoni. But not all hope is lost. Here’s how to get that pizza mess out of your clothes:

Fresh or Dried Pizza Stains

  1. Lift excess cheese with a spoon or dull knife.
  2. Blot with paper towels without rubbing.
  3. Cover with cornstarch or baking soda to absorb grease; shake off after 5 minutes and repeat until powder remains unchanged.
  4. Mix liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide in equal parts, then add baking soda to form a paste.
  5. Work the paste into the stain with fingers or a soft toothbrush.
  6. Wait for 15 minutes while the paste breaks down the stain.
  7. Rinse under cold water, air dry, and inspect. Repeat for stubborn stains. Otherwise, launder as usual.

Did You Know?

Pizza was originally a dish for poor Neapolitans until the visit of Queen Margherita, who favored a pizza resembling the Italian flag in color.

Tips for Effective Food Stain Removal

  • Test for colorfastness by applying stain removers to an inconspicuous spot before using them to treat the stain.
  • Always use white paper towels or undyed rags when treating stains to prevent color transfer onto the fabric.
  • Blotting is a key technique for stain removal; it’s about transferring the stain from the fabric onto the towel or rag, not rubbing, which can embed the stain further.
  • Air drying after stain treatment is crucial because some stains may reappear as the fabric dries. Heat from a dryer can set them permanently, so inspect the area once dry to ensure the stain is completely gone.

Now, if your family is full of messy eaters like mine, keep your supplies of stain removers stocked. The faster you can slap a home remedy on a fresh mess, the more success you’ll have removing food stains from your clothes.

Tired of Cleaning Being Such a Chore?

Become A Subscriber Today And Receive My 5 best Cleaning Secrets!

By subscribing, you agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Similar Posts

Comment Policy

Comments are moderated. Not all are approved. Submitting a comment means you agree to the Terms of Service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *