How to Remove Ketchup and Mustard Stains From Your Clothes

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With the season of baseball games, barbecues, and outdoor potlucks nearly upon us, it’s time we had a refresher on how to remove some of the most popular condiment stains from your clothes. Because, while pool parties and cookouts are fun, coming home with bright red blotches on our favorite shirts is not. Here’s how you can lift those red and yellow stains and give your clothes the best possible chance of staying in your wardrobe rotation.

How to treat a mustard stain

Mustard gets its distinctive bright yellow color from turmeric dye. If not treated quickly, it can be next to impossible to lift. Your best bet is to act fast, using the following steps.

  • First, lift excess with a dull knife or spoon and blot immediately. Do not rub the stain, to avoid spreading mustard to unaffected areas and lodging it deeper into the fibers.
  • Take note of the fabric and care instructions. Anything that needs to be dry cleaned, like silk or wool, should be left to the professionals.
  • If the fabric is washable at home, test your stain removal product (whether commercially made, or one of the DIY remedies below) on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure there’s no damage. Avoid products with ammonia, which will further set the stain.
  • For dry mustard stains, Grove Collaborative suggests the following: “Soak the fabric in cool water mixed with color-safe oxygenated bleach for up to an hour.” Repeat as necessary.
  • Create a rubbing alcohol + dish soap solution: Mix a solution of three parts dish soap to one part rubbing alcohol. Soak the garment in the solution for 10 minutes. (The stain will get temporarily darker—this is normal). Rinse with hot water, and launder as usual.
  • Create a vinegar + dish soap solution: Combine a half cup of water with 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap and a few drops of white vinegar. Apply the solution to the garment and let soak. Once the stain is largely removed, rinse with hot water and launder.

How to remove a ketchup stain

When ketchup threatens to send your favorite jeans to the stain pile, act quickly.

  • Scrape off any excess with a spoon or dull knife. Blot gently with a clean, white paper towel or wash cloth.
  • Rinse from the back of the stain with cold water, to push the stain “out.” (Hot water may set stains.)
  • Working from the outside in (to prevent spreading) rub the offending blotch with stain remover, laundry detergent, or liquid dish soap. Let sit several minutes. Rinse with cold water.
  • For wool, knits, and delicates, Maytag recommends mixing a mild detergent in cool water, adding the clothing to the solution, gently rubbing the solution into the stain, and letting the garment soak for 10 minutes.
  • Sponge with white vinegar. Rinse, and repeat the above “pre-treatment” followed by vinegar as many times as necessary to lift the majority of the stain. If it remains, rub with liquid laundry detergent and soak in warm water for up to 30 minutes.
  • Launder in the warmest water recommended on the care tag. Line dry, as according to Maytag, “Heat from a dryer cycle can set stains that aren’t completely removed, especially tomato-based ones.”

   

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