How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-10

Whether your stain is from a mixed drink, a straight shot, or a can of beer, knowing how to remove alcohol stains can save your clothing, carpet, and upholstery. Beer stains are water-based, meaning the removal process is relatively simple and effective, but liquor mixed with colored dye or fruit juice may be more challenging to tackle. Still, you can use various items you likely already have in your pantry to create natural and inexpensive cleaning solutions. These include vinegar, dishwashing detergent, and bleach. Remember, never place a stained item in a machine dryer, as it can set the stain. 

0:47

Click Play to Learn How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Clothes

Stain Type Alcohol-based/water-based
Detergent Type Laundry detergent and oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold

When to Call a Professional Cleaner

If your stained fabric is labeled as "dry clean only," blot away as much of the drink stain as possible with a white paper towel before heading to the cleaner. If you are using a home dry-cleaning kit for a small stain, treat the area with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag. Always visit a professional cleaner if the stained fabric is vintage or silk upholstery.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothes

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

Carpet and Upholstery

  • Clean white cloth or paper towel
  • Vacuum
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)

Materials

Clothes

  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol or regular ammonia
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent (optional)
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)

Carpet and Upholstery

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

Instructions

common tools for removing liquor stains
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Clothes

After a night out with friends, or a night in watching the game, you'll probably have splashed a little beer or liquor on your clothes. Fortunately, you can use several at-home cleaning methods to prevent the stain from sticking around.

  1. Blot the Wet Stain

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

    person blotting liquor stain with a paper towel
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  2. Flush With Water

    Flush the stained area with cold water. Run the water through the underside of the stain to push it outwards.

    person flushing liquor stain with water
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  3. Treat With Rubbing Alcohol or Ammonia

    Sponge the stain with a bit of plain rubbing alcohol or non-sudsing regular ammonia and rinse well. When the stain is gone, wash as advised on the fabric's care label.

    person treating a liquor stain
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  4. Treat With Laundry Detergent

    Use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil are highly rated brands) to treat the lingering stain. These detergents contain adequate enzymes to break down any tannins in the stain. Allow the detergent to sit on the fabric for at least 15 minutes.

    garment soaking in a basin with laundry detergent
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
  5. Wash as Usual

    Wash the fabric as you typically would, but, but be sure to check the stained area before drying. If the stain is not gone, continue with cleaning and do not dry.

    closeup showing the garment is still stained after washing
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  6. Soak and Wash With Oxygen-Based Bleach

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OxoBrite) with tepid water following package directions, and submerge the garment. Allow it to soak at least four hours or overnight, and then launder as usual. 

    person soaking a garment after washing
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Remove Beer and Liquor Stains From Carpet or Upholstery

To remove drink stains from carpet and upholstery, you can use the same methods you did for clothing stain removal. Be careful not to over-wet upholstery because excess moisture can create mildew.

  1. Remove the Moisture From the Stain

    Blot up as much liquid as possible using white paper towels. Press the towels into the stain, and continue to do so until all or most color has been absorbed.

    Liquor stain on couch armrest being blotted with paper towel

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Make a Cleaning Solution and Apply

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

    Distilled white vinegar mixed with laundry detergent and water in measuring cup

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Blot and Rinse

    Blot the stain with the cleaning solution until no color is transferred. Dip a clean white cloth into plain water to cleanse the area. It is essential to remove all of the soapy residue because it can attract soil.

    Cleaning solution blotted on arm rest with white towel

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Air-dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers once the stain is gone.

    Fibers being lifted with vacuum hose after cleaning

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Treat With Oxygen-Based Bleach

    Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water following the package directions if the stain remains or the liquor is mixed with food dye. 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 the moisture with a dry cloth. Let the carpet air-dry and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers. Repeat until all of the stains are gone.

    Oxygen-based bleach mixed with water in small glass bowl

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Additional Tips for Handling Alcohol Stains

Plain liquor stains can usually be removed by laundering the garment as usual in the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Do not dry stained clothing in a machine dryer until you remove the stain entirely from the material. Machine drying a stained garment will make it very difficult to remove the stain entirely. 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.