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

Cranberry stain

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 5 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Cranberries aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore. They're in everything from juices to mixed drinks and barbecue sauces. We may enjoy the taste but not the stains cranberries and other berries can leave behind on clothes, carpet, and upholstery. 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 quickly laundering clothes or table linens or acting quickly to treat the stain when spotted on carpet and upholstery.

Stain type Tannin-based
Detergent type Heavy-duty, oxygen-based bleach
Water temperature Cold or hot (as recommended by fabric label)
Cycle Regular or depends on fabric

Before You Begin

If you have a garment or table linen that is labeled "dry clean only," blot the liquid or lift the solid away as soon as possible. Then bring the item into a professional cleaner and point out the stain. 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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull-edged knife or spoon
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Sink or soaking tub (optional)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Sponge or white cloth
  • Vacuum

Materials

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

Instructions

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Clothes and Table Linens

  1. Blot Small Stains

    For small liquid stains, blot away as much moisture as possible.

    Blot linen cranberry stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Lift and Flush Large Stains

    For large spills, lift away any cranberry sauce solids from the fabric with a dull-edged knife or spoon. Then hold the fabric directly under a faucet of cold running water to flush out the cranberry juice.

    Lift cranberries from stain using spoon

    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Treat 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.

    Tip

    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.

    Treat linen cranberry stain with detergent
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. 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
  5. Use Bleach for Older 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 the 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
  6. Check the Stained Area and Dry

    After treating and washing, check the stained area. If the stain is completely gone, machine-dry the item. If the stain is not gone, repeat the steps.

    Check linen for stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Warning

    Never place an item that is still stained in a hot dryer. The high heat will set the stain in the fabric and make it nearly impossible to remove.

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

To remove cranberry juice or relish stains from carpet, fabric, furniture, or car upholstery, you can use the same cleaning solutions and techniques. Be careful to not saturate 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.

  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 or spoon to lift away any solids.

    Blotting cranberry carpet stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Warning

    Do not rub the stain. Rubbing will make the stain harder to remove as the cranberry gets ground deeper into the carpet or upholstery fibers.

  2. Mix and Apply the Cleaning Solution

    To remove the stain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach powder and cool water following package directions. Dip a clean cloth into the solution. Work the solution into the carpet or upholstery from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Do not saturate the area. 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 Air-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

Red stains can be challenging. If the cranberry stain is not coming out of the carpet or upholstery using the above method, you can try using a couple of other ingredients.

  • Combine a tablespoon of white vinegar and 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol to blot on the stain. Rinse and air-dry.
  • Or use two cups of warm water with a tablespoon of ammonia to blot on the stain. Rinse and air-dry.

Be sure that you rinse either the alcohol or the ammonia out of the stained area completely or they will neutralize one another. If all else fails, consider some of the commercial stain removers on the market made specifically to lift red stains.