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3 Cleaning Tricks to Remove Summer Food Stains From Clothing With Ease

From ketchup to ice cream to buttery corn.


It’s not a summer cookout if you haven’t stained a shirt or two! The best foods always dribble, so avoiding spills is almost impossible. However, that doesn’t mean your shirts and dresses are forever ruined. You just need the right tools and techniques to remove those pesky summer food stains.

Thankfully, Wendy Saladyga, Persil Stain Expert and Senior Manager of Technical Performance, shared a few tricks with us on how to get food stains out of clothes. From ketchup to buttery corn, these tips will eliminate splatter marks and discolorations by your next wash and dry cycle.

For ketchup and berry pie, patience is key.

Imagine this: You’re digging into your favorite berry pie (ours is the Raised Berry Peach Pie, available at Whole Foods) when a glob falls off your fork and into your lap.

Red stains — whether they’re from berry pie or ketchup — are daunting, but not impossible to remove. “Don’t just toss a ketchup-stained top in the wash,” says Saladyga. “Pre-treat the sauce stain by rubbing in laundry detergent. Let it sit for at least five minutes before washing.”

The same principle applies for berry pie, though some sources recommend rubbing on vinegar or lemon juice first, and letting the stain sit for about five minutes.

No matter the cause of that red mark, Saladyga recommends Persil Stain Fighter Liquid Laundry Detergent (Buy at Walmart, $12.97, prices vary by location) for the job. If you have a stain remover, you could try that as well. One we like: Carbona Pro Care Laundry Stain Scrubber (Buy from Amazon, $14.04).

For melty ice cream, turn it inside out.

Before you treat an ice cream stain with detergent, try to get all the dairy out of the fabric. If it isn’t washed out, it could continue to stain the garment as it dries.

“Turn the garment inside out and rinse under cold or warm water,” Saladyga says. Then, rub laundry detergent into the affected area and wash.

If the ice cream dried on the shirt before you could get to it (we get it, these summer days have been busy), first let the stained garment soak in cold water for five to 10 minutes.

For drippy, buttered corn, blot first.

Nothing tastes as good as corn on the cob covered in melty butter, but butter stains are sometimes the most difficult to remove. The reason? Scrubbing the fabric is not something you want to do.

“Try not to rub vigorously or use a damp cloth, [which] will work the stain deeper in,” warns Saladyga. Here’s what you should do instead: “Blot or dab excess butter off garments before pre-treating [with detergent or stain remover].”

Dealing with delicate fabric, such as wool or silk? Sprinkle baking soda on it first. Let that do its magic overnight, and then wash the fabric as you normally would in the morning.

With a few extra tips up your now-stainless sleeve, you can go back to enjoying your mouth-watering summer dishes.

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