How to Remove Cheese Sauce Stains From Clothes, Carpet, Upholstery

cheese sauce dripping on a tablecloth

The Spruce / Kori Livingston 

What is better than melted, gooey cheese on pizza or flowing from a grilled cheese sandwich, or the bright orange cup of nacho cheese just waiting for a salty chip?

Let's face it, the cheesy drips and stains on our clothes, carpet, and upholstery are worth it. But, we still have to remove them. Learn how to savor the moment and not worry about the drips.

Washable Clothes

Cheese sauce and melted cheese drips are a combination stain of protein from the milk solids and oil. As with any stain, the sooner you can treat it, the easier it will be to remove.

Begin by removing any solid blobs using a dull knife, spoon, or the edge of a credit card. Do not rub or wipe the stain because that only pushes it deeper into the fabric fibers. As soon as possible, flush or sponge the area with cold water. Do not use hot water because that can cook the proteins, making it even more difficult to remove from the fibers.

Next, treat the stained area with a stain remover spray or gel that will treat both the protein and oily components of the stain. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil are the leading laundry detergent performers) to treat the stain. These detergents contain enough enzymes to remove the combination stain. Less expensive brands may not work as well.

Rub in the stain remover or laundry detergent with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow the stain remover to remain on the fabric for at least 15 minutes before you wash the stained item. This gives the product time to break down the stain and begin to loosen it from the fabric. The surfactants in the stain remover will suspend the stain components in the wash water until they can be flushed away.

Follow the instructions on the garment's care label and wash in the warmest water recommended. Check the stain before tossing the garment or table linens in a hot dryer. Excessive heat can set the stain, especially on synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic. Repeat the stain removal treatment if necessary.

placing the stained garment into the washer
The Spruce / Kori Livingston 

Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, lift away any solids using a dull edge. Use plain cold water to sponge the stained area to remove any solid residue left in the fabric. As soon as possible, head to your professional dry cleaner and be sure to point out the stain. Do not leave the stained item in a hot car for several days. It will only make the stain harder to remove.

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

dry clean only items
The Spruce / Kori Livingston  


Carpet fibers love to hold onto melted cheese. So, use that dull edge of a knife or spatula to lift away as much of the melted cheese as possible. Don't rub because you'll only push the cheese in deeper.

Mix a solution of two cups of warm water and two tablespoons hand dishwashing detergent. Dip a soft-bristled brush or clean white cloth or sponge into the solution and work it into the stained area. Work from the outside edges of the cheese stain to the center to avoid making the stain larger. As the cheese is loosened from the fibers, blot away with a paper towel. Keep working until no more color is transferred. Blot away any excess moisture.

Dip a clean sponge or towel in plain cold water to rinse the area. If you leave a soapy residue, it will actually attract soil. Keep sponging with cold water until no more soapy residue is present. Blot dry with paper towels and allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift the fibers.

cleaning a carpet
The Spruce / Kori Livingston 


The same cleaning techniques and solution used for carpet can be used to remove cheese sauce stains from upholstery. Do not overwet the fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can cause mold or mildew to grow. Allow to air dry away from sunlight.

If the upholstery is silk or vintage, remove the solid cheese with a dull edge and blot any remaining oil with a clean white paper towel. Call a professional upholstery cleaner if you need more stain removal tips and to prevent watermarks and changes in color.

removing stains off of upholstery
The Spruce / Kori Livingston