How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Clothes and More

Cold pint glass of beer

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Liquor comes in a variety of flavors and colors not to mention all the mixers that can be used from cranberry juice to tomato juice to heavy cream. Beer is a bit more simple unless it's St. Patrick's Day and green dye has been added. But whether your stain is from a mixed drink, a straight shot, or a beer, knowing how to remove liquor or beer stains can save your clothes, carpet, or fabric furniture.

Stain Type Tannin-based 
Detergent Type Laundry detergent and oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour to 9 hours (depending on the severity of the stain)

Before You Begin

Liquor and beer, both clear and brown, are a tannin stain, a plant component that often shows as a color in the final product. If a spill happens, blot immediately with a white paper towel and then blot with plain cold water until the garment can be washed.

Steer Clear of Bar Soap or Soap Flakes

Never use natural bar soap or soap flakes on the stain because they make tannin stains more difficult to remove.

If the liquor or beer is mixed with a brightly colored mixer such as cranberry juice, it is important to treat the stain as soon as possible to remove the dye from the fabric.

Do not dry any clothes in a clothes dryer until you work the stain entirely out of the fabric. Drying the stain in a clothes dryer will make it difficult to fully remove the stain.

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 possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

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.

If cleaning upholstery fabric and it is silk or vintage, blot away the stain and then contact a professional upholstery cleaner.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Faucet
  • Clean white cloth or paper towel
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Soaking basin or sink (optional)

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Clothes

  1. Blot a Wet Stain

    Blot away as much of the moisture as possible with a white paper towel.

  2. Flush With Water

    With a washable garment or table linens, hold the fabric under a faucet with a running stream of cold water. Flush the stained area from the wrong side of the stain so that the stain is forced away from the surface of the fabric.

  3. Treat With Rubbing Alcohol or Ammonia

    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 for the fabric on the care label.

  4. Treat With Laundry Detergent

    If some evidence of the stain remains, 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 mixer ingredients. Less expensive brands may not work as well. Allow the detergent to sit on the fabric at least 15 minutes.

  5. Wash as Usual

    Wash the garment or table linen as usual. Check the stained area before drying. If the stain is not gone, move to the next step.

  6. Soak and Wash With Oxygen-Based Bleach

If the stain remains on the fabric, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) 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. This type of bleach is safe for natural and synthetic fabrics that are either white or colored. If the stain is not gone, repeat this step. When no stain remains, launder as usual.

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Carpet or Upholstery

To remove drink stains from carpet, fabric furniture, or car upholstery, you will use the same cleaning solutions and techniques. Be careful to not overwet upholstery because excess moisture can cause problems with the cushion fillings. Allow the upholstery to air dry away from sunlight and direct heat.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Water
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)

Tools

  • Clean white cloth or paper towel
  • Vacuum
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  1. Remove the Moisture From the Stain

    Move as quickly as possible to treat the stain. Begin by using white paper towels to blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Press the towels into the stain. Keep moving to a clean towel until no more color is transferred.

  2. Make a Cleaning Solution and Apply

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

  3. Blot and Rinse Away the Cleaning Solution

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

  4. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    If the stain is gone, allow the carpet to air-dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

  5. Treat With Oxygen-Based Bleach

If the stain remains or the liquor is mixed with something colorful that contains food dye (such as Jello shots), mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water following the package directions. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the oxygen bleach solution into the carpet. Allow it to work for at least one hour before blotting away the moisture with a dry cloth. Repeat until all of the stain is gone. Allow the carpet to air-dry and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.