How To Remove Mustard Stains from Clothes

Yellow is such a happy color. It imbibes positivity, and it can easily draw attention. However, a yellow mustard stain is not an eye-catching detail you would want in your clothes. Mustard belongs to a hot dog sandwich, but sometimes they slip and go straight to your shirt.

Mustard is usually bright yellow because turmeric is added to the condiment to make it more appealing. Turmeric contains tannin, a natural compound found in plants. Tannin is used in tanning leather and dyeing fabric. Since turmeric contains natural dye, it can stain clothes easily. Hence, it’s best to treat mustard stains right away. Here’s how to remove mustard stains on clothes:

Before You Attempt To Remove The Stain

Removing mustard stains is quite tricky. Its components include dye from turmeric, as well as acids from vinegar and citric acids. The low pH level of the acidic compounds causes the pigment from the turmeric to cling tightly onto fabrics. This process is called acid dyeing. With this, it’s best to follow the following pieces of advice before you deal with mustard stains:

  • Check the clothing’s care label. If the item is dry clean only, don’t try to remove the stain with water. It’s best to take it to the cleaner and point out the problem.
  • Silk and cashmere are delicate fabrics. Spot test the underside of the seam first before you try any stain removal method.
  • Don’t use a stain remover with ammonia to get mustard stains from clothes. Mustard is an acidic condiment. When its acids react with ammonia, it will result in permanent staining.

How To Get Rid of Fresh Mustard Stains 

Fresh stains are always a lot easier to remove. Here’s how to take off the mustard stain that has freshly dripped on your shirt.

1. Blot the stain carefully

Commercial mustards (the bright yellow ones) are runny. It’s best to blot them with tissue paper if they accidentally spilled on your clothing. Make sure you get mustard off the garment by blotting carefully and gently. Doing so will prevent you from spreading and pressing the stain onto the fabric.

2. Run the underside of the stained area with cold water

Remove the stained garment and turn it inside out. Flush the underside of the stained area using cold water from the sink. Avoid scrubbing the affected area to make sure you don’t press the dye deeper onto the fabric. Just concentrate the flow of water to the stained part. Cold water is preferred to avoid the color from setting.

3. Treat the stain with liquid laundry detergent

You can use a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent to treat mustard stains. To use it as a stain remover, put an ample amount of liquid laundry detergent on a white cloth and dab it on the mark. Let the detergent work its way for around 10 to 15 minutes.

Rinse off the detergent by flushing the backside of the affected area with cold water. Again, do not rub the fabric.

4. Use commercial stain removers

For persistent stains, you can use commercial stain removers to get the mustard stain off the garment. Apply the product directly on the stain and let it sit on the fabric according to package directions.

5. Prepare a wash with hot water

If the stain hasn’t lifted, launder the stained item in the washing machine using hot water. You can use your choice of laundry detergent.

6. Add bleach or vinegar

If you are washing whites, you can add chlorine bleach to the wash. This process would effectively remove stains on white garments.

However, it’s best to use oxygen-based bleach if you are laundering colored garments. Oxygen-based bleach is safe for colored clothes and would not cause discoloration. You can use half a cup of bleach for a regular laundry load.

If you prefer a natural stain remover, you can add one cup of white vinegar to the wash.

7. Air dry the clothing

Skip the dryer or drying rack to avoid setting any persistent mustard stain. Machine drying the clothing may “bake” the marks making it almost impossible to remove.

How To Remove Dried or Set-In Mustard Stains

If you want to remove a dried mustard stain, you are in for a challenge.

1. Scrape any excess

To remove a dry mustard stain, scrape off any crusty mustard left on the fabric first. You can use the back of a spoon or a spatula to get the excess mustard off the clothing. You have to make sure that you remove all the crusty stains before you treat the garment. If you do not do this, the mark will spread on the fabric when wet.

2. Soak the fabric in cold water

Place the garment in the sink filled with cold water. Soak the stained item in the water. You will loosen the set-in stain by doing this. Thus the stain remover can work its way.

3. Use a heavy-duty detergent

Remove the water in the sink and use a heavy-duty liquid detergent to pretreat the set-in mustard stain. Use a white cloth to dab the detergent directly on the stain. Let the detergent sit on the discoloration for about an hour.

4. Rinse with cold water

Run cold water on the underside of the affected area and rinse it again.

5. Apply stain remover

Apply a commercial stain remover if the stain is still visible on the clothes’ surface. Treat the stained area for 15 minutes. You can loosen any set-in stains by gently massaging the sides of the fabric back and forth.

6. Launder the garment with warm water

Wash the stained item in the washer using the warmest temperature setting it can tolerate. You can add chlorine bleach if the clothing is white. But if the fabric is colored, it’s better to use oxygen-safe bleach.

7. Air dry the clothing

If you are skeptical that there are remaining mustard marks after the process, you can air-dry the garment. You can avoid “baking” the stains and making them permanent by skipping the dryer.

In Conclusion

Mustard is among the most difficult stains to remove. The condiment itself contains products that want to set in clothes once it gets into contact with the fabric. If you deal with it immediately, you get a better shot of removing this persistent smear.

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About Sonia Peters

Sonia Peters is a communications specialist and a freelance writer. As a mother of a young boy, she's a self-declared expert on dealing with stains and grimes after a fun day with her child.