How to Remove Cranberry Stains from Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

How to remove cranberry stains from clothes and carpet
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Cranberries aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore. Cranberries are everywhere from juices to mixed drinks to barbecue sauces. We may enjoy the taste but not the stains cranberries can leave behind on clothes, carpet, and upholstery.

Remove Cranberry Stains from Clothes and Table Linens

  1. If the bright red stain is caused by cranberry juice, start by blotting the area with a clean white cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the juice as possible. For a small stain, after you get the initial spill blotted away, wet a clean white towel with plain water and blot away at the remaining color. This might remove the stain if you caught it in time.
  2. For larger stains, the best way to tackle the stain is to hold the fabric directly under a cold water faucet running at full blast. Flush the fabric from the wrong side to force the stain out of the fibers.
  3. If the stain is caused by cranberry sauce (whole or jellied), use a dull knife or edge of a spoon to lift away the sauce. Do not rub or wipe because you'll push the sauce deeper into the fabric fibers and make the stain more difficult to remove.
  4. Cranberries produce a tannin stain, a plant stain component that often shows as a color in the final product. Fresh tannin stains can usually be removed by laundering the table linens or clothes using a heavy-duty detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Tide and Persil are heavy-duty detergents that contain enough enzymes to break apart the stains. Mid-priced detergents may not work as well.
  1. Never use a natural soap like Fels Naptha in a bar form or as soap flakes because natural soap makes tannin stains more difficult to remove.
  2. Older cranberry stains may need to be treated with bleach to remove the dye component. Chlorine bleach can be used on white garments and linens. Use color-safe or oxygen-based bleach (brand names are OxiClean, OXO Brite, or Clorox 2) for colored fabrics.
  3. If the cranberry stains do not come out completely, repeat the cleaning steps. Never place a stained item in a hot dryer. The high heat will set the stain in the fabric and make it nearly impossible to remove.
  4. If the garment or table covering is labeled as dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the fabric in the kit's cleaning bag.

Remove Cranberry Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

  1. For cranberry juice spilled on a carpet, use a white paper towel or old white cloth to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. For cranberry sauces, use a dull knife to lift away any solids. Don't rub either type of stain! Rubbing will make the stain harder to remove as the cranberry gets ground deeper into the carpet or upholstery fibers.
  2. To remove the dye component of the stain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) in cool water following package directions. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading, work the solution into the carpet. Do not over saturate the carpet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes before blotting away.
  3. Use a dry clean white cloth to blot away moisture. You do not need to rinse the area. Oxygen bleach solutions turn into pure water within a few hours. Allow to air dry completely away from direct heat or sunlight. Repeat cleaning steps if needed until the stain is removed. When the stain is gone, vacuum to restore the pile of the carpet.
  1. The same cleaning solutions recommended for carpet can be used for upholstery. It is very important, however, to take care not to oversaturate the upholstery fabric with the cleaning solution. Excessive moisture in the cushion fillings can cause problems with mildew growth. If the upholstery is silk or vintage, consult an upholstery cleaning professional.