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

white shirt stained with berries

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries are healthy and delicious but can leave a stain that is tough to remove from fabrics and carpet. 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.

Stain Type Tannin-based dye
Detergent Type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold to warm
Cycle Type Normal

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Soft bristled brush
  • 1 Dull butter knife
  • 1 Soaking basin
  • Washing machine

Materials

  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Water
  • Chlorine bleach (optional)
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)

Instructions

materials for removing berry stains
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Before You Begin

You'll have the most success with stain removal if you treat the berry stains as soon as possible after they happen. Older stains are much more difficult to remove.

If the item is labeled as dry-clean-only, remove any solids and blot the area with a white paper towel or 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.

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

  1. Lift the Solids

    Lift away any berry 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. If you can't wash the garment right away, dip a paper towel or white cloth in plain water and blot the stain.

    using a knife to lift stain solids
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Flush With Cold Water

    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.

    flushing the stained garment with cold water
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Pretreat the Stain

    If the berry stain has dried, use a stain remover to pretreat the stain. Work the stain remover into the stain with a soft-bristled brush (like an an old toothbrush) 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.

    pretreating a berry stain
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Warning

    Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes because they make tannin stains more difficult to remove.

  4. Wash With Heavy-Duty Detergent

    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.

    putting a garment in the washer
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Check the Stain Before Drying

    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, move on to one of the soaking methods.

    making sure the stain has lifted
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. Use a Bleach and Water Soak

    Some types of 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. Mix 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water. Soak for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing well.

    For white synthetic fabrics or colored clothes, use an oxygen-based bleach instead. Following package directions, mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach. Completely submerge the stained items and allow them to soak at least four hours or overnight. Then wash as usual.

    bleach and water soak
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Berry Stains From Carpet and 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.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Paper towels

Tools

  • Dull-edged knife
  • White cloth
  • Sponge
  • Eye-dropper (optional)
materias for removing berry stains
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Instructions

  1. Remove Any Berry Solids and Liquids

    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.

    lifting berry stain solids off of a rug
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution and Blot the Stain

    Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid with 2 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.

    blotting the berry stain
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Rinse Well

    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 attract soil.

    bleach solution and a clean cloth
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Tackle Tough Stains

    If the stain doesn't budge, 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-percent 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.

    rinsing berry stain with soapy water
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Finally, after treating the stains, use a dry clean white cloth to blot away moisture. Allow the carpet to air-dry completely and vacuum to restore the pile.

    vacuuming the rug
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hong, Kyung Hwa. “Effects of Tannin Mordanting on Coloring and Functionalities of Wool Fabrics Dyed with Spent Coffee Grounds.” Fashion and Textiles, vol. 5, no. 1, 2018, doi:10.1186/s40691-018-0151-3

  2. Cobb, Linda. The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal. Pocket Books, 2010