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

Cranberry stain

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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.

Stain Type Tannin-based
Detergent Type Heavy-duty detergent, Oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold and Warm

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

Working Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: Total Time: 1 hour to 5 hours (depending on the severity of the stain)

Before You Begin

Cranberries produce a tannin stain, a plant stain component that often shows as a color in the final product. 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.

For larger liquid stains, the best way to tackle the problem 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.

If the stain is caused by cranberry sauce (whole or jellied), use a dull knife or the 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.

After you have blotted away liquids and lifted away solids, 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.

Skip the Liquid Soap or Bar

Never use a natural soap like Fels Naptha or Zote in a bar form, soap flakes or liquid soap because natural soap makes tannin stains more difficult to remove.

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.

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.

What You'll Need


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


  • Water faucet
  • Dull-edged knife
  • White paper towels
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Sink or soaking tub (optional)

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Clothes and Table Linens

  1. Blot, Lift or Flush the Stain

    For small liquid stains, blot away as much moisture as possible. For large spills, hold the fabric directly under a faucet of cold running water to flush out the cranberry juice. Lift away any cranberry sauce solids from the fabric with a dull-edged knife or spoon.

    Lift cranberries from stain using spoon
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
    Blot linen cranberry stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Treat the Stain with Laundry Detergent or Stain Remover

    Treat the stained area with an enzyme-based stain remover or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent. Tide and Persil are heavy-duty detergents that contain enough enzymes to break apart the stains; mid-priced detergents may not work as well. Work in the detergent and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before washing the fabric.

    Treat linen cranberry stain with detergent
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Wash as Usual

    Wash the garment as recommended on the care label using cold or warm water.

    Wash linen following care instructions
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Use Bleach for Set-in Stains

    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. Follow label instructions and, if using oxygen-based bleach, allow the garment to soak in the solution for at least four hours.

    Use bleach on set-in cranberry stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Check the Stained Area and Dry

    After treating and washing, check the stained area. If the stain is not gone, repeat the steps. Never place a stained garment in a hot dryer.

    Check linen for stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

To remove cranberry juice or relish stains from carpet, fabric furniture or car upholstery, you will use the same cleaning solutions and techniques. Be careful to not overwet the fabric because excess moisture can cause problems with the cushion fillings. Allow the carpet and upholstery to air dry away from sunlight and direct heat. If the upholstery is silk or vintage, consult an upholstery cleaning professional or if you need more stain removal tips.

What You'll Need


  • Water
  • Oxygen-based bleach


  • White paper towels
  • Dull-edged knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Sponge or white cloth
  • Vacuum
  1. Blot or Lift Away the Stains

    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.

    Blotting cranberry carpet stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Mix and Apply the Cleaning Solution

    To remove the the stain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach powder and 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 or upholstery. Do not over saturate. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes.

    Apply cleaning solution to carpet stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Blot and Dry the Stained Area

    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 the carpet or upholstery to air-dry completely away from direct heat or sunlight.

    Blot and dry carpet stained area
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Check the Stained Area

    Check the stained area and repeat cleaning steps if needed until the stain is removed. When the stain is gone, vacuum to restore the pile of the carpet.

    Vacuum carpet once stain is removed
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska