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

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 5 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Cranberries aren't just for Thanksgiving anymore. These healthy, sweet and tart berries are 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 are loaded with tannins, which are plant compounds that contribute to the color of the ripe fruit, but can be quite staining to fabrics and carpet.

Fortunately, 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. Here's how to handle a cranberry stain on your clothes, carpet, or 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 cranberry liquid or lift the solids 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.

If the cranberry stain is on upholstery that is vintage or silk, blot away liquid and solids, and then call a professional upholstery cleaner. It's best to leave the cleaning of these delicate fabrics to professionals to avoid further damage.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothing or Table Linens

  • Clean white cloth or paper towels
  • Dull-edged knife or spoon
  • Washing machine
  • Sink or soaking tub (optional)

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Dull-edged knife or spoon
  • Clean white cloth or paper towels
  • Mixing bowl
  • Vacuum cleaner

Materials

Clothing or Table Linens

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

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • Household ammonia (optional)

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 with a clean white cloth or paper towel.

    Warning

    Blot with an up-and-down motion. Do not rub at the stain, which can cause it to spread further into the fabric fibers.

    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 Fresh Stains With Laundry Detergent or Stain Remover

    Treat the stained area with an enzyme-based stain remover like Shout or Zout spray or gel. If you don't have a stain remover handy, substitute a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent like Tide or Persil. Use your fingers to thoroughly work the treatment into the stain. Allow it to work for at least 15 minutes.

    Tip

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

    Treat linen cranberry stain with detergent
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Use Bleach for Older Stains (Optional)

    Older cranberry stains that have dried 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 (some brand names are OxiClean, OXO Brite, or Clorox 2) for colored fabrics. Follow the label instructions for mixing the product in a bucket or sink. Allow the stained fabric to soak in the solution for at least 4 hours.

    Use bleach on set-in cranberry stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Wash as Usual

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

    Wash linen following care instructions
    ​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 before drying the garment or table linen.

    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.

    Check linen for stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Remove Cranberry Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

To remove cranberry juice or cranberry sauce stains from carpet or upholstery, you can use the same cleaning solutions and techniques. Be careful to not saturate upholstered couch or chair cushions, however, because excess moisture can cause mildewing or odor in the cushion fillings. Allow treated carpet or upholstery to air-dry away from sunlight and direct heat.

  1. Blot or Lift Away the Stains

    For cranberry juice spills, use a white paper towel or clean 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.

    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.

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

    In a mixing bowl, combine oxygen-based bleach and cool water following package directions for amounts of each. Dip a clean white cloth into the solution. Sponge the solution into the carpet or upholstery from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading. Do not overly 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 the above 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

Additional Tips for Handling Cranberry Stains

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. Always test first in an inconspicuous spot to be sure there is no unwanted change to the carpet or upholstery color.

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

If it's clothing or a table linen that has lingering cranberry stains despite your best efforts, it's time to take the fabric to a professional dry cleaner and ask for help. Be sure to let them know the nature of the stain as well as all the products you've already used in attempts to remove it.