How to Remove Cream Cheese Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Illustration showing how you can remove cream cheese stains from clothes

The Spruce / Adriana Sanchez

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

While that schmear of cream cheese is oh-so-delicious on your bagel, it's not so great when a plop of it drops onto your shirt or furniture, leaving an oily mark on the fabric. As with other soft cheeses, cream cheese stains are oil-based, which means you should work quickly to remove them before they set permanently into the fabric. Luckily, it's not too hard to get a cream cheese stain out of clothes, carpet, or upholstery, and you don't need any special supplies or equipment to do so.

Stain type  Protein, fat
Detergent type Heavy-duty detergent
Water temperature Varies depending on fabric type
Cycle type Depends upon fabric type

Before You Begin

If the stained garment is labeled as dry clean only, remove any solids and blot with a clean white cloth. Do not rub, because that will make the stain harder to remove. For small stains, you can spot clean with a dry cleaning solvent. Always test the solvent on an inside seam to be sure it will not fade the fabric and always follow product directions carefully. 

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

If trying to remove a cream cheese stain from vintage or silk upholstery, consult a professional cleaner before attempting to clean the furniture yourself. These types of fabrics are often best left to professionals.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothing

  • Dull knife, spoon, or credit card
  • Soft-bristled brush (Optional)
  • Washing machine

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Measuring spoon
  • Bowl or bucket
  • Sponge, paper towel, or clean cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner (Optional)

Materials

Clothing

  • Laundy stain pretreatment spray or gel
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent (Optional)

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Warm water

Instructions

materials for removing cream cheese stains

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

How to Remove Cream Cheese Stains From Clothes

  1. Remove Any Solids

    Use a dull knife, spoon, or the edge of a credit card to lift off any excess cream cheese from the fabric. Do not rub the fresh stain with a cloth or paper towel because that will push the cheese particles deeper into the fabric and make them much harder to remove. If the cheese has dried, brush it away gently with a soft-bristled brush.

    removing excess cream cheese with a dull knife

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  2. Pretreat the Stain

    Treat the stained area with a solvent-based stain remover spray or gel. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil) to treat the stain. These detergents contain enough enzymes to break down the oil and protein components of the cheese.

    Allow the stain remover to sit on the fabric at least 15 minutes before washing so it can begin to dissolve the proteins and oils in the stain.

    Warning

    For delicate or non-colorfast fabrics, test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

    pretreating the cream cheese stain

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  3. Select the Water Temperature and Wash Cycle

    Wash the garment or table linen as recommended for the fabric on the care label. If there is no label, use warm or cold water and the permanent press cycle.

    choosing a wash cycle

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  4. Check the Stained Area

    Check the stained area before tossing the item in the dryer. If the stain is not gone, do not dry it. Instead, repeat the steps above. Drying an item with an oily stain can cause the stain to set permanently, especially with synthetic fabrics like polyester.

    Tip

    Older soft cheese stains will be harder to remove. You might need to repeat the cleaning process a couple of times before the stain disappears.

    checking to make sure the stain is removed

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  5. Dry the Item

    Once the cream cheese stain is gone, follow the care label recommendations for drying the fabric.

    loading the linen into the dryer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

How to Remove Cream Cheese Stains From Carpet

The following steps can be used to remove cream cheese stains from both carpet and upholstery. However, be particularly careful not to oversaturate upholstered chair or couch cushions, as it can be difficult for the filling to dry.

  1. Remove Excess Solids

    Use a dull knife or the edge of a spoon to lift away as much of the cream cheese as possible. Never wipe or rub the area with a paper towel because that will push the cheese into the carpet or fabric fibers more deeply.

    Excess cream cheese lifted away from carpet with dull knife

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of two cups warm water, one tablespoon dishwashing liquid, and two tablespoons distilled white vinegar in a small bowl or bucket.

    White bowl of water mixed with distilled white vinegar and dishwashing liquid for cream cheese cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Tackle the Stain

    Dip a clean white cloth, paper towel, or sponge in the solution, and then wring out any excess moisture. Working from the outside edge of the stain towards the center, blot away the cream cheese mark. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is lifted from the carpet or upholstery.

    Tip

    Starting at the outside edge of a stain helps prevent the mark from spreading.

    Sponge with cleaning solution wiping cream cheese from carpet

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  4. Rinse the Area

    To rinse, use another clean cloth dipped in plain water, and wipe down the treated area. It is important to do this step because if you leave any soapy residue in the carpet, it will actually attract more soil. Take care not to over-saturate upholstered couch or chair cushions, however.

    Carpet rinsed with clean and wet rag over cream cheese stain

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  5. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the area to air dry with no direct heat. Vacuum to lift and restore carpet fibers.

    Vacuum hose with brush attachment lifting loose debris from carpet

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Additional Tips for Handling a Cream Cheese Stain

If the stain persists on clothing, the oily stain may disappear if it's coaxed with hot water. Before drying the garment, repeat the steps above, but use the hottest water cycle that is safe for the garment.

If the stain lingers on carpet or upholstery fabric, sprinkle baking soda on the area, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum.