How to Remove Berry Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Happy children brother and sister eating strawberries with milk

evgenyatamanenko/Getty Images

Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries are healthy and delicious but can leave a stain that is tough to remove from fabrics and carpet. The staining is caused by tannin, a plant component that often shows as a strong color in the fruit of a plant. The tannin in berries is so strong it can be used to create natural dyes for yarn or fabrics, but that's not always the best look down the front of your favorite shirt.

How to Remove a Berry Stain From Washable Clothes 

If the berry stain is very fresh, lift away any solids from the surface of the fabric with a dull knife or edge of a credit card. Do not rub because that will press the stain deeper into the fibers.

As soon as possible, hold the stain under a running faucet of cold water. Flush from the wrong side of the fabric to force out the stain. Then wash the garment using a heavy-duty detergent (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty and contain enough enzymes to break apart the stain) and the hottest water recommended on the item's care label

If the berry stain has dried, use a stain remover spray or gel like Zout or Shout to pretreat the stain. Work the stain remover into the stain with a soft-bristle brush and allow it to remain on the stain for at least 15 minutes before washing. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of the heavy duty liquid detergent for pretreating.

Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes because they make tannin stains more difficult to remove. Next, wash the stained item in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

Older berry stains may need to be treated with bleach to remove lingering color. Chlorine bleach can be used on natural fiber (cotton and linen) white garments and table linens. For white synthetic fabrics or colored clothes, use an oxygen-based bleach instead. Mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach are brand names) following package directions. Completely submerge the stained items and allow them to soak at least four hours or overnight. Then wash as usual.

After washing, always check clothes to be sure that no stains remain before tossing in the dryer. The high heat of the dryer may permanently set the stains. If a stain remains, repeat the stain removal steps.

How to Remove Berry Stains From Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the berry stain lands on a garment that is labeled as dry clean only, remove any solids and blot the area with a white cloth to remove as much of the stain as possible. Then as soon as possible head to your dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to a professional cleaner.

If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the berry stain first with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Berry Stains From Carpets

Use a dull knife or the edge of a spoon to lift any solids from the carpet. Do not rub because that will push the stain deeper into the fibers. Next, use a white paper towel or old white cloth to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Try to work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep the stain from spreading and getting larger.

Mix a solution of one teaspoon dishwashing detergent with two cups of lukewarm water. Dip a white cloth, sponge or paper towel into the solution and blot the berry stain. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred out of the carpet. When no more stain is transferred, dip a clean white cloth in plain water and "rinse" by blotting the stain again. It is important to rinse the detergent out of the carpet because it can actually attract soil.

Allow the area to air dry away from direct heat. If any stain remains, move to the next steps. If not, vacuum to lift fibers.

For tough stains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach in cool water following package directions. Dip a clean sponge into the solution or use an eye dropper to apply to the remaining spot. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, work the solution into the carpet. Do not over wet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes before blotting away.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide to remove the berry stain. Drop a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the stained area. Let it work for one hour and then blot away. There is no need to rinse because exposure to light turns hydrogen peroxide into plain water. Repeat if necessary.

Finally, use a dry clean white cloth to blot away moisture. Allow to dry completely and vacuum to restore pile of the carpet.

How to Remove Berry Stains From Upholstery

To remove berry stains from upholstery, follow the same cleaning recommendations as those for carpet. Take extra care not to over-saturate the cushions with the cleaning or rinsing solutions which can cause moisture problems in the cushions. 

If the upholstery is vintage or silk, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Call a professional especially if you need more stain removal tips.