Feature

A foolproof guide to removing food stains

You are going to spill. Be prepared to clean up.

When you love to cook, it's inevitable: things are going to get stained. What you can control, however, is how you handle them — and whether they stick around.

First things first: Identify the stain being treated. Stains can be divided into three main categories: tannin stains, grease/oil stains, and protein/blood stains. Once you've identified the type of stain being treated, use the appropriate technique recommended per fabric/material. We've rounded up our stain-fighting strategies below.

Tannin stains: Most colored stains are tannin stains, including wine, fruit (juices), tomato sauce, chocolate, coffee, and tea.

For cotton, linen, and durable synthetics:

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Pour hot water from a height, or use the pressure from hot taps on the treated area. Allow the item to soak.
  • If the stain is not completely gone, repeat process until satisfied.
  • Launder as normal.

For silk, wool, and delicate synthetics:

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Fill a basin or sink with tepid water and add appropriate detergent/wash. Gently agitate so items will be evenly soaped and wet.
  • Soak for up to 30 minutes — do not soak silk for longer.
  • Rinse well. Run tepid water through items until rinse water is no longer soapy. Press excess water out of the item.

Old, stubborn, and set-in stains (and previously dry-cleaned items)

For cotton, linen, and durable synthetics:

  • Use an oxygen bleaching agent to safely remove dirt, stains, and odors. This is most effective when used with hot/warm water. It's safe for all colors, and is an excellent alternative to chlorine bleach.

For silk, wool, and delicate synthetics:

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Fill a basin or sink with tepid water and add appropriate detergent/wash. Gently agitate so items will be evenly soaped and wet.
  • Soak for up to 30 minutes — do not soak silk for longer.
  • Rinse well. Run tepid water through items until rinse water is no longer soapy. Press excess water out of the item.
  • Do not use oxygen bleach when treating silk and wool.

Oil stains: Oil or grease-based stains include cooking oils and salad dressing.

For cotton, linen, and durable synthetics:

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Pour hot water from a height, or use the pressure from hot taps on the treated area. Allow the item to soak.
  • If the stain is not completely gone, repeat process until satisfied.
  • Launder as normal.

For silk, wool, and delicate synthetics:

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Fill a basin or sink with tepid water and add appropriate detergent/wash. Gently agitate so items will be evenly soaped and wet.
  • Soak for up to 30 minutes — do not soak silk for longer.
  • Rinse well. Run tepid water through items until rinse water is no longer soapy. Press excess water out of the item.

Blood stains

  • Apply stain remover directly to the blemished area(s).
  • Pour cold water from a height, or use the pressure from cold taps on the treated area, allow the item to soak.
  • If the stain is not completely gone, repeat process until satisfied.
  • Launder as normal.
  • Please note: Always use cold water when treating blood stains. Hot or warm water will cause the stain to set.

This article originally appeared on Food52.com: How to remove food stains.

More from Food52...

Recommended

6 outstanding homes in Ohio
House
Feature

6 outstanding homes in Ohio

The Week contest: Sailing pumpkin
A pumpkin boat.
Feature

The Week contest: Sailing pumpkin

6 magnificent Victorian homes
House
Feature

6 magnificent Victorian homes

The Week contest: Vomit job
Vomiting.
Feature

The Week contest: Vomit job

Most Popular

Is Putin's Ukraine 'partial mobilization' the beginning of his end?
Vladimir Putin.
Opinion

Is Putin's Ukraine 'partial mobilization' the beginning of his end?

Trump claims presidents can declassify documents 'by thinking about it'
Donald Trump
Nope

Trump claims presidents can declassify documents 'by thinking about it'

Hot mic catches South Korean president swearing after talking to Biden
yoon suk yeol photo
potty mouth

Hot mic catches South Korean president swearing after talking to Biden