How to Remove Food Stains From Your Clothes

How to Remove Food Stains From Your Clothes

We have all been there. You had a stressful day at work and you rush to go pickup your kids, then you have to run out to get groceries and have dinner ready in time. Then, as you scramble to cook up a nice meal, you end up getting marinara sauce all over your favorite shirt.  

It happens. But why not be prepared for everything life throws your way? Here are ten of the most common types of stains and the best ways to remove them.

Tomato sauce or ketchup

halves of red tomato on white background
Ketchup or tomatoes from sandwiches or salads can leave a big stain

It’s hard not to get a little ketchup on your shirt when diving into a juicy burger, but it’s not as hard to clean it right off.  

  1. First, you should remove any extra ketchup or tomato sauce from the clothing, but make sure not to rub it into the fabric because that can make the stain spread even more.   
  1. Remove the clothing item as soon as possible and run cold water over the stain. 
  1. Soak the stain in white vinegar and let it sit for a while. If you don’t have white vinegar, you can mix 1 teaspoon of dish soap with 1 cup of water and use that instead.  
  1. Finally, wash it as usual. Make sure to check that the stain is removed before putting the clothing in the dryer.  


red wine poured in glass
Easier to spill while drinking than most: Wine.

Wine is one of those stains that can send you into a state of panic. Its deep red color can look very intimidating on your favorite new blouse. Good thing, however, it can be easy to clean if the clothing item can withstand chemical cleaning.  

  1. First, lay the garment down on some paper towels and lightly dab the stain with a sponge soaked in hot water.  
  1. Repeat this process until the color fades as much as possible.  
  1. Take a liquid stain remover (preferably bleach-based) and apply it to the stain and the area around it. Check the label of the stain remover to see how long to let the product sit. 
  1. Once it has soaked for long enough, wash the item as usual. It should be as good as new! 

Coffee or tea

coffee being poured in cup held by someone
Another world-wide drink that spills and stains easily is coffee.

Getting a coffee or tea stain out of your clothes isn’t too difficult, but there are some ways to make it even easier and more effective! 

  1. First, sprinkle some baking soda over the stain and allow it about five minutes to absorb the color.  
  1. Hold the stain face down and run cold water over it to push it out of the fabric.  
  1. After rinsing out the baking soda, use liquid dish soap and a toothbrush to scrub the stain in a circular motion. 
  1.  Finally, rinse it off and wash as usual. 

If you don’t have baking soda, another successful method is: 

  1. Soak the garment in a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water.  
  1. Hang it up in the sun to dry before throwing it in the wash.


Chocolate treats on table
Chocolate greatness, that can leave a strong impression in more than one way

Almost everyone loves chocolate, but not on their clothes. Chocolate can be a pesky stain to remove, but fortunately there are some products out there that can help you.

The best way to get rid of a chocolate stain is to get to it as soon as possible.  

  1. As soon as you notice the stain, try to gently scoop off any excess chocolate. 
  1. Soak it in cold water for a while  
  1. Treat it with a strong stain remover.  
  1. And finally, wash it in the hottest water that is safe for the type of fabric.  

If this doesn’t work, try rewashing the garment in a bleach that is safe for the fabric.


Gum in many flavors somehow finds it’s way on clothes

Gum is one of the more difficult stains to handle, however, it is not impossible to get it off.  

  1. First, rub an ice cube over the gum to freeze it.  
  1. Then, use a butter knife to scrape off as much of it as you can.  
  1. To remove the rest of the gum, put some glycerin on top of it (you can buy glycerin at Walmart for less than $4).  
  1. After leaving it for a few minutes, scrub it off and rinse with water.  
  1. If some gum still remains, try washing it off with some dish soap.  

Fruit juice 

orange juice and fruits
Orange juice is a healthy hit, especially with kids, but spills easily.

If you have kids, fruit juice stains are no stranger to you. Juice stains, though can be easily removed by doing the following:  

  1. Rinse the stained area with cold water to lighten it, but make sure to avoid scrubbing, which can make the stain worse.  
  1. Pick a laundry detergent with enzymes, which can tackle organic matter.  
  1. Spread this detergent over the stain and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  
  1. Finally, throw the garment in the wash on the hottest water cycle that is safe for the item.  


red and blueberries
Bright colors on white stand out, like berries on a white shirt

Berries are tasty and nutritious, but their stains are not so great.  

  1. Run boiling water over the stain as soon as possible. 
  1. Let it dry and then soak the stain in white vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar, you can also use lemon juice. 
  1. Rinse it out, and let it dry again before throwing it in the laundry. 

Peanut Butter

peanut butter
Not the best color to get on your clothing…

Peanut butter is the perfect protein-packed tasty treat, but it can be pesky to remove from clothing.  

  1. Scoop off any excess peanut butter and then rinse it with cold water. 
  1. Treat the spot with a prewash stain remover  
  1. Wash it with the hottest water cycle safe for the item.  

Salad dressing/ olive oil

olive oil in bowl being poured
Oil adds to meals and makes it taste better, but on clothes, it can be a mess.

Because salad dressings are usually made from some type of oil, they can be very difficult to work with. 

  1. Put some stain remover gel on the stained area.  
  1. Rinse hot water over it and rub with liquid detergent.  
  1. Let that sit for about 5 minutes before finally laundering it on the hottest setting safe for the item.  


Like olive oil, butter is another type of fat that you don’t want spilling on your clothes

One of the most common ingredients in food also happens to be one of the easier stains to remove.  

  1. Pour some dish soap over the stain and rinse it out.  
  1. Use a little stain remover on the area before throwing the item in the wash using hot water.  


So next time you are rushing to make dinner and some marinara splashes on your shirt, hopefully you will know exactly what to do.

However, just keep in mind that with most stains, the longer it is left untreated, the more difficult it will be to remove. So, the quicker you can get to treating a spill, the better.

Also, always remember to check your clothing labels. And if you happen to spill on a dry-clean only item, some of these tips might not work. Now go get those stains out with ease!

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