How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains from Clothes, Carpet, Upholstery

Cold pint glass of beer
john shepherd / Getty Images

Liquor comes in a variety of flavors and colors and think of 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 the stain is important.

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains from Washable Clothes and Linens

Liquor and beer - both clear and brown - is 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. Plain liquor stains can usually be removed by laundering the garment as usual in the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Never use natural soap in a bar 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, it is important to treat the stain as soon as possible to remove the dye from fabric. Blot away as much of the moisture as possible with a white paper towel. 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 dye is forced away from the surface of the fabric.

Next, sponge the stain with a bit of plain rubbing alcohol or non-sudsing household ammonia and rinse well.

If the color is gone, wash as recommended for the fabric on the care label.

If some stain remains, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Wisk, 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 fifteen minutes. Next, 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. Drying the item on high heat if it is still stained will make the stain even harder to remove.

If mixer color remains on the fabric, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiCleanTide OxiNellie'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 Dry Clean Only Clothes

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.

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains from Carpet

There's never been a party involving alcohol that didn't end up with a few spills and stains. When the drinks the floor, 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. Use an old shoe or spatula to press the towels into the stain. Keep moving to a clean towel until no more color is transferred.

Mix one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent, one-half cup distilled white vinegar and two 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. 

Blot away the cleaning solution with a clean dry white cloth 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 actually attract soil.

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

If the stain remains or the liquor is mixed with something colorful that contains food dye (jello shots), 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. Allow ​it to work for at least one hour before blotting away and rinsing with cold water on a cloth. Repeat until all of the stain is gone. Allow the carpet to air dry and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains from Upholstery

To remove drink stains from furniture and car upholstery, use the same cleaning solutions and techniques as recommended for carpet. Be careful to not overwet the fabric because excess moisture can cause problems with the cushion fillings. 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.

For more stain removal tips: Stain Removal A to Z