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.
|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.
Equipment / Tools
- Paper towels
- Washer or large washing tub
- Small bowl
- Two white cloths
- Soft-bristled brush
- Rubbing alcohol or non-sudsing household ammonia
- Enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty detergent
- Oxygen-based bleach
- Liquid dishwashing detergent
- Distilled white vinegar
- Warm water
- Oxygen bleach
Steps to Remove Kool-Aid Stains From Clothes
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.
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.
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.
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.
Steps to Remove Kool-Aid Stains From Carpet
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.
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.
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.
Air Dry and Vacuum
Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat and sunlight, and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.
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.