How to Remove Jell-O Stains

How to Remove Jello Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-10

Jell-O is made from two stain-causing ingredients: artificial colored dye and gelatin. The colored dye in Jell-O (especially red) can make for stubborn stains, while plain, non-dyed gelatin is a protein stain that is easier to remove through soaking and washing. Fortunately, you can work to remove Jell-O stains at home using products you likely already have in your cupboard. Never use hot water on plain or dyed gelatin because it cooks the protein and can set the dye, making the stain hard to remove. The dye, especially in red Jell-O, sets quickly, so treat the color immediately. If you're using ammonia to clean a Jell-O stain, never combine it with bleach, as the fumes are toxic. Never machine dry a garment until you are sure the stain is completely removed; the heat will set the stain and may never fade.

Stain type Dye-based, protein-based
Detergent type Heavy-duty
Water temperature Cold to hot
Cycle type Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

Before beginning the treatment process, resist the urge to rub the stain, as it will only push the matter deeper into the fabric fibers, making it more difficult to remove. 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 part of the towel until no more color is transferred. Always adhere to the recommendations on your garment's care label before washing. Different fabrics call for different washing protocols. If you are using a home dry-cleaning kit, treat the area with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag. Do not use the oxygen bleach or a water-soaking solution on wool, silk, or anything trimmed with leather.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washer
  • Soft-bristle brush (optional)
  • Vacuum
  • Butter knife
  • Sponge
  • White cloth

Materials

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Detergent
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Vinegar

Instructions

How to Remove Jell-O Stains From Clothes

Enjoying a cup of sweet, refreshing Jell-O can sometimes result in a stain or two. But act as quickly as possible; if the food sits for too long or, worse yet, dries on the fabric, then the chances of completely removing the stain are greatly reduced. Fortunately, there are simple at-home steps you can take to eliminate the stain before it permanently sets.

  1. Scrape Excess

    Use a dull knife or spoon to remove any solid Jell-O pieces from your clothing. Don't rub or wipe, as it will push the stain deeper into the fabric and make it harder to remove.

  2. Rinse

    Rinse the area with cold water by holding the back side under a faucet.  

  3. Sponge the Stain

    Sponge the stain with a bit of plain rubbing alcohol or household ammonia and rinse well. When the color is gone, wash as recommended on the care label using heavy-duty liquid detergent.

  4. Mix Solution

    If the stain is dried or any artificial colorings remain on the fabric, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (recommended brands include OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, and OxoBrite) and tepid water following package directions, and submerge the garment. Allow it to soak at least four hours or overnight, and then launder as usual. 

washable item with a jello stain
The Spruce / Kori Livingston

Tip

Typically, darker dyes are more challenging to remove than lighter dyes. If your Jell-O is yellow, the stain may come out more quickly than a red Jell-O stain.

dry clean only items
The Spruce / Kori Livingston 

How to Remove Jell-O Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

You can remove Jell-O stains from upholstery using the same cleaning solutions and techniques as you would for carpet. Be careful not to over-wet cushions because excess moisture can cause mildew and mold. 

  1. Lift Solids

    Lift the solids out of the carpet fibers using a dull knife. Be careful not to press the solids into the fabric while doing so.

  2. Mix Solution

    Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent, 1/3 cup of distilled white vinegar, and 1 and 2/3 cups of warm water. Use a clean white cloth, sponge, or soft bristle brush to blot the solution into the stained area. Work from the outside edges toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading.

  3. Air Dry

    Air dry the carpet away from direct heat. If the stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water following the package directions. Use a soft-bristle brush to work the oxygen bleach solution into the carpet.

  4. Let Sit

    Let the solution sit for at least one hour before blotting away and rinsing with cold water on a cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone. Allow the carpet to air dry and vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

wiping down a rug
The Spruce / Kori Livingston

When to Call a Professional

If your stained garment is labeled as dry clean only, remove any Jell-O solids and visit your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the proper treatment. If your stained clothing or upholstery is silk or vintage, blot the stain and then contact a professional cleaner.

Additional Tips for Handling Jell-O Stains

If the Jell-O stain persists, you may repeat your cleaning method of choice as many times as you see fit. Although at-home practices can be very effective in removing Jell-O stains, if you can't manage to eliminate the spot, you can call a professional cleaner for more specialized advice.

wiping off a sofa
The Spruce / Kori Livingston