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Laundry Room | Stains and Fabric Care

Food Stains – 5 Cheap and Easy Hacks for Dealing with Food Stains

March 16, 2022

It’s surprising just how messy a toddler can be when given a juice box or a yogurt. I’ve also met my fair share of clumsy adults who can’t seem to stop talking with their hands while they are holding a drink. (Ahem… my husband.) 

Whether you are a parent or not, chances are you’ve had to deal with food stains a time or two. And if you’ve ever found yourself dealing with a food stain on your favorite shirt, you know how frustrating it can be. We’ve got your back. And your front. Or wherever the stain landed. 

Please note that some of these products are affiliate links. Consider these brands our friends with benefits. When you buy from these links, we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. We use this commission to pay our staff, produce content, and of course, buy our cleaning supplies. Pretty neat, huh?

The first step is to figure out what the stain is made of, and then treat it accordingly. Read on to learn how to treat greasy food stains, coffee, red wine, chocolate, or berry stains. (Protein based stains are covered in this blog article, so head on over there if you are dealing with anything that came from an animal or human.) We love a good stain treatment like Tide Rescue, but we love cheap stain hacks that WORK, too!

Greasy Food Stains

Greasy food stains are easily treated with dish soap. It works to cut the grease on our cooking pans, so why wouldn’t it work on our clothes? (Spoiler Alert: it works wonders!)


Mix 3 parts Blue Dawn dish soap (USA) (Canada) with 1 part water, and gently scrub the mixture into the stain. Let sit for at least 1 hour, but overnight is best for tough stains (or laziness). Rinse, then wash in the hottest cycle possible for your fabric using Powdered Tide. Check the garment for any remaining stain. If it’s not fully gone, repeat before drying.

Coffee

This one may be harder to blame on the kids. But hey, not impossible!

First, run COLD water over the coffee stain to get as much of it to lift as you can. Then, soak your garment in a sink full of hot water and a dishwasher tab (USA) (Canada). Rinse, then wash in your machine using Powdered Tide. Check for the stain, and if it’s not fully gone, repeat.

Red Wine

It seems like red wine stains usually end up on the carpet or a white shirt. They are easy to treat as long as you get to them quickly, but this method also works on set in, dry red wine stains the next morning if you can’t treat right away.

On Carpet:

Blot the stain with a towel. Try to get as much of the liquid up as possible. Mix 1 tsp of powdered Tide (USA) (Canada) in 1 cup of warm water. Wet a cloth in the mixture and dab the stain. You can pour a small amount of the mixture on the stain and blot it with a cloth. It will lift immediately. No need to rinse.

For tough  stains that have been set for several days, weeks, or months, spray liberally with water followed by hydrogen peroxide. (Note that hydrogen peroxide is a mid bleaching agent, so we always recommend testing on a small spot in the corner of the room.) 

Next, grab a damp white cloth and place it over the sprayed area. Place a hot iron on top of the cloth and let it sit stationary for 20 to 30 seconds. Continue this process until the stain lifts. (Note: All irons are different. Use caution and be careful not to burn or melt the fibers of your carpet.)

On Clothing:

Rinse the stain with warm water to remove any excess wine. Soak in the sink overnight with 1 scoop of Oxiclean (USA) (Canada) and hot water. Wash on a hot water cycle with Powdered Tide and a scoop of Oxiclean. Check the garment for any remaining stain, and if it’s not fully gone, repeat before drying.

Chocolate:

Get to these stains quickly! Once they set, they are very hard to remove.

If the chocolate is melted and gooey, throw the offending clothes in a plastic bag and put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and scrape off as much hardened chocolate as you can. Once back to room temperature, apply a bit of toothpaste. Scrub into the stain and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse well, repeat if necessary. 

Once the stain has mostly lifted, treat the spot with a paste made of Powdered Tide and hot water. Let sit for 20 minutes. Wash in hot water and Powdered Tide. Check the garment for any remaining stain, and if it’s not fully gone, repeat before drying.

Berries:

Berries are another tricky stain where it’s best to act quickly to avoid having the stain set. 

Boil a full kettle of water and pour it over the stain, and watch as it disappears before your eyes! If there is any stain left, treat the spot with a paste made of Powdered Tide and hot water. Let sit for 20 minutes, then wash in hot water and Powdered Tide. Check the garment for any remaining stain, and if it’s not fully gone, repeat before drying.

May the odds be ever in your favor. But with these tips and our laundry handbook, you will know exactly what to do and what not to do. Luck is not required when you have the skills. 

– Becky @ GoCleanCo

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