How to Remove Jam and Jelly Stains From Fabric

How to Remove Jam & Jelly Stains

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 10

Whether your favorite is grape, peach, strawberry, or orange marmalade, these delicious condiments are made from a combination of fruits or vegetables, spices, and sugar. Most are fairly simple to remove from fabrics using standard household products unless artificial color has been added, so go ahead and enjoy that PBJ! Whatever you do, don't grab a napkin to swipe at that blob that just plopped on your shirt, and never toss a still-stained item in a machine dryer, as the high heat can set the stain and make it permanent.

Read on to learn how to remove those jam and jelly stains from clothing, carpet, and upholstery.

 Stain type Tannin, sugar and pigment-based
 Detergent type  Standard
 Water temperature  Varies depending on the type of fabric
 Cycle type  Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

Before you do anything, check the fabric care label on the piece of stained clothing. When that jelly lands on a fabric that is labeled as dry clean only, lift away as much of the solids as possible with a dull knife, a spoon, or even the edge of a credit card. Blot away any moisture and as soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner. Point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If you choose to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife, spoon, or credit card
  • White cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Small basin
  • Vacuum

Materials

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Liquid dishwashing soap

Instructions

How to Remove Jam and Jelly Stains on Washable Clothes

Fruits and vegetables contain tannin, a plant component that often shows in the varying intensity of color in the final product. The tannin from the fruit or vegetable combined with sugar and spices create the jam and jelly stains. Fresh tannin stains can usually be removed by washing the garment or table linens with good laundry detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric on the care label.

  1. Remove Solids

    Lift as much of the solids away from the surface of the fabric as possible using a dull knife, spoon, or edge of a credit card. Be careful not to rub or wipe the stain because that only forces the stain deeper into the fabric fibers.

    removing jelly with a dull knife

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

  2. Blot

    Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel in plain water, and blot the fabric until you can wash the garment.

    blotting dry clean only fabric

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

  3. Wash the Clothing

    Wash the garment per the care label, then check the stain. If any stain remains, do not toss it in the dryer. Move on to the next steps instead.

    Warning

    Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes to treat the stain because soap can make tannin stains more difficult to remove.

    Loading the washer

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

  4. Make a Soaking Solution

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and lukewarm water following package directions. Mix enough of the solution to completely submerge the stained garment. Allow the item to soak at least four hours or overnight and then launder as usual. Check the stained area, if any marks remain, repeat this step.

    Submerging a garment in an oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

    How to Remove Jam and Jelly Stains on Carpet and Upholstery

    Why does the bread always fall on the carpet with the jelly side down? Just take a deep breath and pick up the bread, but don't wipe or rub the spot. Follow these steps to get your carpet and upholstery clean again.

    Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture. Take extra care not to overwet the fabric because excess moisture in the furniture cushions can cause problems with mold and mildew. If the upholstery is vintage or silk, remove the solids and consult an upholstery cleaning professional.

  5. Remove Solids

    Use a spoon or dull knife to remove as much of the solids as possible. Don't wipe or rub because you'll only be pushing the stain deeper into the carpet fibers.

    Removing jam solids with a knife

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  6. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of one teaspoon of hand dishwashing detergent liquid with two cups of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel in the solution. Blot the jelly stain and keep moving to a clean area of the cloth until no more stain is transferred.

    Blotting the stained area with a cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  7. Rinse

    Dip a cloth in plain cool water to "rinse" the cleaned area. Blot dry with a clean cloth. It is important to rinse and remove all the soapy solution because any residue left can actually attract soil. If any stain remains, go to the next step, if not let the carpet air-dry and vacuum.

    Rinsing the stained area with a new damp cloth

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  8. Mix a Soaking Solution

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and water as per the manufacturer's directions on the label, and saturate the stained area. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least four hours and then blot away. Repeat as needed.

    Mixing a cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  9. Air-Dry and Vacuum

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

    Vacuuming the carpet to lift the fibers

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Additional Tips for Handling Jam and Jelly Stains

If the stain is older and has dried and set, or if artificial dyes have been added to the jam or jelly, additional treatment may be needed. Always test in an inconspicuous spot before using these methods below.

  • You can treat stains on white cotton garments or linens with chlorine bleach
  • Treat any remaining stains on the carpet with a clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. This treatment should only be used on a white or very light carpet because bleaching can occur.