How To Remove Old Food Stain From Washable Fabrics

January 27, 2023

Are you tired of having to throw out clothes or linens because of stubborn food stains that just won't come out? Never fear, there is a solution to removing even the most stubborn dried or old food stains from washable fabrics. With a few simple household items and a little bit of elbow grease, those unsightly stains will be a thing of the past. Keep reading to learn the secrets to removing food stains and saving your clothes and linens from the trash.


Various (depending on type)


These stains appear as discoloration of the fabric that can come in various colors depending on the type of food. They can be slightly wet or dry to the touch and may have a slightly spoiled or sour smell. These stains are often caused by contact with old or spoiled food.


Hot (120° to 140°F)


Hot water helps to break down the food and make it easier to remove.

The Science Behind Old Food Stains

Old food stains are stubborn on clothes because the substances that make up the stain, such as proteins or oils, have had time to bond with the fibers in the fabric. When a stain is fresh, it can often be easily removed with water or a mild detergent. However, as the stain dries and sits on the fabric, it becomes harder to remove because the molecules in the stain have had time to penetrate the fibers and form stronger bonds with them. Additionally, the heat and humidity can cause the stain to oxidize, which can also make it more difficult to remove.

What You'll Need To Get Rid Of Old Food Stains

  • Stain remover or laundry pre-treatment
  • Dish soap or laundry detergent
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Borax or baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Oxygen bleach

Step By Step Process To Remove Old Food Stains

  1. Treat the stain with a stain remover or laundry pre-treatment, following the manufacturer's instructions. Allow the product to sit on the stain for the recommended amount of time.
  2. Apply a small amount of dish soap or laundry detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it in with your fingers.
  3. Soak the garment in a solution of 1 gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice for 30 minutes.
  4. If the stain is still visible, make a paste with borax or baking soda and water and apply it to the stain. Rub it in gently and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse the garment thoroughly with warm water and check to see if the stain is still visible. If so, repeat steps 2-4.
  6. If the stain is still present, mix together 3% hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of dish soap or laundry detergent. Apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  7. If the stain is still visible, use oxygen bleach according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  8. Wash the garment in the washer on the hottest water temperature recommended on the care label, with laundry detergent.
It is recommended to always test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first to ensure that it won't cause discoloration or damage.

In Brief

Old food stains are hard to remove because they have bonded with the fibers in the fabric. To remove them, you will need to use a stain remover or laundry pre-treatment, dish soap or laundry detergent, white vinegar or lemon juice, borax or baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and oxygen bleach. The steps include treating the stain, rubbing, soaking, rinsing, and washing in hot water. Remember to test the solution on a small inconspicuous area first.

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