Have you ever wondered why some of the best foods are also the messiest? It’s difficult to enjoy a mug of rich, dark-roast coffee without dribbling a few drops on your collar, and you probably wipe your hands on your pants without thinking after munching on a handful of blueberries.
We can’t tell you why your favorite foods are a recipe for disaster when it comes to keeping your clothes clean, but we can tell you how to minimize the damage. Keep reading to learn how to remove stains from coffee, berries, turmeric, and other common foods.
Stain Removal 101
When you notice a glob of raspberry jelly on the front of your favorite blouse, your first instinct is probably to reach for a napkin and wipe it up. While time is of the essence when it comes to tough stains, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle them.
The first step is to clean up any bits of food that may still be lingering but do so carefully! You don’t want to rub the stain further into the fabric by accident. Once you’re left with just the fabric, you can work on removing the stain. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it if something says, “dry clean only” – you should consider the item non-washable and let the pros handle it!
1. Coffee, Tea, and Other Beverages
Liquid stains are often the toughest to remove because they soak in quickly and tend to spread. The key to removing stains from coffee, tea, and other beverages is to use cold water and to dab at the stain instead of rubbing it.
- For fresh coffee stains, run cold water through the back of the stain for 10 to 15 minutes or until the water runs clear.
- For set-in stains, wet the stain with cold water then rub in a little laundry detergent. Let it sit for 5 minutes then soak it in water, rubbing the area gently every 5 minutes to loosen the stain.
- To remove tea stains, mix 1 tablespoon each of distilled white vinegar and liquid dish soap with 2 cups of warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and use it to dab gently at the stain until it is gone.
- For juice stains, start by soaking the area in cold water and remove any dried pulp.
- Next, flush the stain with cold water until it lifts away and, if needed, soak a little vinegar and laundry detergent into the stain before laundering at the hottest temperature allowed by the label.
Whether you’ve spent the afternoon picking berries or you’re baking a fresh strawberry pie, it would be a miracle to come away completely stain-free.
- The first step to remove stains from berries is to stretch the fabric over a large bowl and pour boiling water through it. The hot water should remove most of the stain but if it leaves some color behind.
- Dab the stain with white vinegar and soak it well in cold water before laundering it.
3. Turmeric and Other Spices
Everyone loves a good curry, but brightly colored spices like turmeric, curry powder, and paprika can leave stubborn stains on your clothes.
- To remove stains from turmeric and other spices, start by rinsing the area with cold water to remove as much of the stain as you can.
- Next, lay the fabric out on a flat surface and sprinkle with baking soda.
- Let the baking soda sit for 5 minutes, then scrub the stain gently with a soft toothbrush. Rinse the stain again then launder as usual and let dry.
4. Oil and Butter
While stains from berries and other brightly colored foods might be more immediately noticeable, oil-based stains are tougher to remove. When it comes to removing stains from oil and butter, fight your instincts – don’t rinse the area with water! The oil will repel the water, and the stain might spread. What you should do is:
- Sprinkle both sides of the fabric with flour, cornstarch, or talcum powder to remove as much fat as possible then let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Shake off the excess powder then rub gently with mild dish soap and rinse under hot water.
- Repeat the process as needed until the stain is gone.
5. Ketchup, BBQ, and Other Condiments
Tomato-based sauces and condiments stain easily, but a little cold water and vinegar are all you need.
- For ketchup and BBQ stains, rinse the area under cold running water then blot with distilled white vinegar.
- Before laundering, spray with a laundry pre-treatment or a little diluted laundry detergent.
- To remove mustard stains, scrape away the excess then run under cold water.
- Dab with diluted liquid detergent or a stain remover stick then launder as usual.
Food stains can be tough to tackle, but the sooner you treat them, the better your chances of successful removal. When in doubt, flush the stain with cold water then dab it with a clean cloth and a little liquid detergent.
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