How to Remove Kool-Aid Stains From Clothes and Carpet

How to Remove Fruit Punch Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Sweet, fruity drinks like Kool-Aid and Hawaiian Punch contain natural and artificial dyes in a rainbow of bright colors. Not only do these dyes turn kids' tongues shocking shades of red and blue, but they can also stain fabric just as dramatically if they spill. Kool-Aid is even used as a crafty, kid-safe colorant for tie-dying, meaning it is capable of leaving stubborn, unwanted stains on your clothes or carpet.

Learn steps to safely and effectively remove colorful drink stains from clothing, carpet, and upholstery.

Stain Type Dye-based
Detergent Type Heavy-duty detergent and oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold to warm
Cycle Type Gentle or regular, depending on fabric

Before You Begin

  • No matter where the spill occurs, begin by using white paper towels to blot up as much of the stain as possible. Keep moving to a clean towel until no more color is transferred.
  • Do not rub immediately. That will only push the stain deeper into the fabric fibers and make the stain harder to remove.
  • Check the care label on the garment and test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.
  • If you are using a home dry cleaning kit for a small stain, be sure to treat the area with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.
  • When removing dye stains from washable clothes, always check the stained area before tossing the fabric in the dryer. Drying the item on high heat if it is still stained will make the stain even harder to remove.

Tip

As with any stain, it is important to treat a Kool-Aid or other fruit punch stain as soon as possible to remove the dye from the fabric. The longer it sits, the more difficult it will be to remove.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothes

  • Paper towels
  • Washer or large washing tub

Carpet

  • Small bowl
  • Two white cloths
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Vacuum

Materials

Clothes

  • Rubbing alcohol or non-sudsing household ammonia
  • Enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Water

Carpet

  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Oxygen bleach

Instructions

Materials and tools to clean a fruit punch stain from clothes

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

Steps to Remove Kool-Aid Stains From Clothes

  1. Blot and Rinse

    Blot away as much moisture as possible with a white paper towel, then hold the fabric under a faucet with a running stream of cold water. Flush the stained area from the back side of the stain so that the dye is forced out of the surface of the fabric.

    Fruit punch stained clothing rinsed under running water faucet of cold water

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Tip

    If you have quick access to club soda or seltzer instead of water, use it to flush the stain. There's no proof that these carbonated beverages do a better job than water, but they can still help dilute and carry the stain away from the fabric.

  2. Treat the Dye Stain

    Sponge the stain with a bit of plain rubbing alcohol or non-sudsing household ammonia and rinse well. If the stain is gone, wash as recommended on the care label.

    Rubbing alcohol blotted on fruit punch stained clothing with white paper towel

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Tip

    Only use non-sudsing household ammonia on light-colored clothing because it can potentially fade fabric colors.

  3. Use a Stain Remover

    If dye stains remain, treat the stained area with a solvent-based stain remover spray or gel, like Zout or Shout. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil are highly-rated brands) to treat the stain. These detergents contain enough enzymes to break down the stain.

    Work the stain remover into the fabric with your fingers and allow the stain remover to sit on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes before washing the garment as usual. 

    Blue solvent-based stain remover spray gel squeezed on to remain fruit punch stain on clothing

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  4. Remove Older Stains

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and tepid water to treat older stains that have set. Submerge the garment in the solution and allow it to soak for at least four hours, or overnight, and then wash as usual—but only dry if the stain is gone.

    If the stain is still visible, try repeating this step. When no stain remains, launder as usual.

    Fruit punch stained clothing submerged in plastic bin with water and oxygen-based bleach to remove traces of dye

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

Steps to Remove Kool-Aid Stains From Carpet

Tip

Remove stains using the same cleaning solutions and techniques for furniture and car upholstery as recommended for carpet. Do not wet the fabric too much because excess moisture can cause mildew to form in cushions. 


Allow the upholstery to air-dry away from sunlight and direct heat. If the furniture fabric is silk or vintage, blot away the stain and then contact a professional upholstery cleaner.

Materials and tools to clean fruit punch stain from carpet

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  1. Mix the Cleaning Solution

    Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water in a small bowl. Use a clean white cloth to blot this solution into the stain. Work from the outside edges toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading. 

    Distilled white vinegar poured into glass bowl of water for cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  2. Blot and Rinse

    Blot away the cleaning solution with a clean, dry white cloth until no more color is transferred. Dip a clean white cloth into the plain water to rinse the area. It is important to remove all the soapy residue because it can attract soil.

    Cream-colored carpet with fruit punch stain blotted with white cloth and cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  3. Treat Lingering Stains

    Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water in a small bowl to treat a persistent stain. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the oxygen bleach solution into the carpet.

    Allow it to sit for at least one hour before blotting away and rinsing with cold water on a cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.

    Soft-bristled brush scrubbing fruit punch stain with oxygen-based bleach and water solution on carpet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  4. Air Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and sunlight, and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

    Cream-colored carpet vacuumed after air drying

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, blot away as much of the drink stain as possible with a white paper towel. As soon as you can, head to the dry cleaner and point out the stain to your professional cleaner to help them choose the proper treatment. The same applies to a stain that damages silk upholstery or vintage clothing and upholstery; you need to contact a professional cleaner, or else you are likely to do more damage if you try to remove the stain yourself.

Additional Tips for Handling Kool-Aid Stains

If the stain proves tougher to remove than expected, consider buying a product made specifically to lift red stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery.

If your kids are big fans of fruit punch, it might be a good idea to have a red stain buster (brand names include Red Erase, Wine Away, or Juice Out) handy in your arsenal of laundry and cleaning products for future accidents.