If you’re like me, food that starts on your plate often makes a few detours before making it to your mouth. That one time you decide to wear a white shirt to dinner would be the time the bolognese sauce splatters all over it.

While it’s ideal to have some stain removers on standby for these incidents, if you’re out and about, or simply haven’t gotten around to buying any for your home (like me), it’s also handy to know a few other remedies that can be done with common household supplies.

So without further ado, here is how to use some ingredients from your kitchen to remove stains from other ingredients from your kitchen.

#SpoonTip: These are a general guideline, but if you have especially delicate fabrics, it may just be more worthwhile getting them professionally cleaned.

1. Oil/Grease Stains

common food stains

Photo by Jessica Payne

Whether you’ve been cooking something oily or you’ve dropped some fries over your clothes, oil and grease stains are pretty common.

One good way to get rid of them is by using an artificial sweetener – these will blot the stain pretty effectively, and sachets of this are always pretty easy to find in cafes and diners, should you be out and about when the spillage happens.

Another trick recommended by fashion blogger Pacheco is to use baby powder, as this will also help soak up the grease/oil. Once it  has done it’s job, you can just brush it off the top, and with it a large chunk (if not all) of the stain.

2. Tomato Sauce Stains

common food stains

Photo by Alia Wilhelm


Tomato sauce is used in so many foods, that it’s almost inevitable that you’ll get a tomato sauce stain at some point.

If this happens, you should soak the stain with cold water – not hot, because the heat will set the stain in the fabric. If the sauce is thicker, like tomato ketchup, remember to scrape off any excess first – and if you’re flushing water over it at the beginning, flush it from the back, so the stain leaves in the same direction it came from.

It’s also recommended that you add vinegar and dishwashing liquid to the water you’re soaking the fabric in, and leave it for half an hour at least. After you’ve left it, you can rub the spot with the stain and rinse it through and the stain should be no more.

3. Wine Stains

common food stains

Photo by Devon Carlson

You’ve probably heard that if you’ve spilt red wine, one way to neutralize the stain is to use white wine.

Another method also worth trying is by using either salt of baking soda to soak up the stain. One recommendation is to add a layer of salt or baking soda paste to the stained area, leave it for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with club soda. Or instead of club soda, you can rinse the stain with equal parts dishwashing liquid and white vinegar.

Just remember, wine bleeds into the fabric fast, so the sooner you’re able to act, the better.

4. Chocolate Stains

common food stains

Photo courtesy of adampaulgreen.com

One surprising way to get rid of chocolate stains is with milk. Yes, as weird as this sounds, if you soak the stain in milk (after rinsing it first with washing up detergent) for about half an hour, it’s a lot more likely to come out in the wash. Go figure.

5. Berry Juice Stains

common food stains

Photo by Hannah Lin

Berries are notorious for creating dark stains, and if they’re especially stubborn, they may not come out with a normal wash. But if there’s still remnants of the stain left over after washing, don’t worry – rubbing lemon juice over the top, or laying a lemon slice on the area should do the trick.

6. Bonus All-Round Helper: Club Soda

common food stains

Photo courtesy of @FlorenceLuong on flickr.com

Also found under the name Seltzer water, club soda is a great all-around helper when it comes to removing stains. Coffee, tea, wine, you name it – pouring a little club soda on the top helps in a lot of cases.

As explained on foodie website Bon Appetit, “first, it’s acidic, which helps battle the stain on a chemical level. Additionally, the effervescence of the bubbles also helps to mechanically lift the stain away from the fabric.”

So if all else fails, grab your carbonated drink and give that a try.