Saffron, one of the most expensive ingredients used in cooking, adds flavor to seafood dishes like bouillabaisse and paella and is used frequently in Persian, Indian, European, and Arab cuisines. It is also one of the hardest stains to remove from clothes and table linens. While quite flavorful, the yellow pollen gathered from crocus is also used as an excellent dye. The key to successful saffron stain removal is to treat the stain as soon as possible. There are different steps and techniques for removing saffron depending on whether it is a dry or wet stain. Never put the stained garment in a dryer or the heat can set the stain making it harder to remove or permanent.
Read on and learn how to remove saffron stains from clothing, carpet, and upholstery.
|Water temperature||Cold to warm|
|Cycle type||Varies depending on the type of fabric|
Before You Begin
Take a look at the care label on the stained garment. If the garment is dry clean only, use a bit of sticky tape to lift the dry saffron pollen from the fabric's surface. If the stain is liquid, blot with a dry, white cloth to remove as much moisture as possible.
As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the kit's cleaning bag. Be forewarned, you'll have much better success allowing a professional to tackle a saffron stain.
Equipment / Tools
- Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
- Sticky tape
- Dull knife or credit card
- White cloth or paper towels
- Stain remover, spray or gel
- Heavy-duty laundry detergent
- Oxygen-based bleach
How to Remove Saffron Stains From Washable Clothes
If you drop a bit of dry saffron on clothes, do not rub or try to brush away the particles because you will only press the pollen deeper into the fabric. Instead, use a bit of sticky tape or blow on the fabric to remove as many of the grains as possible.
If the saffron is already added to the cooking dish like paella or dissolved in water, you'll need to do a bit more work to remove the stain.
Remove the Saffron
Remove the dry saffron as soon as possible. There are two ways you can do that. You can use a bit of sticky tape to lift the grains from the surface of the fabric. If you don't have tape, blow air on the fabric or shake the fabric outside or over a trash bin to loosen the grains.
Treat the Stained Area
Apply a heavy-duty enzyme-based stain remover like Shout or Zout. Use a small, soft brush–like an old toothbrush–to work the stain remover into the stain. Begin at the outside edge and work in a circular motion toward the center. Try not to spread the stain any larger. Let the stain remover work on the fabric for at least 15 minutes.
Rinse and Check the Stained Area
Rinse under cool water and check to see if any stain remains. If any yellow color remains, do not launder the garment and move to the next step.
Mix a Soaking Solution
Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach are brand names) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the entire garment or table cloth and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stain. If the stain is gone, move to the next step, if not, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain but it should come out.
Oxygen-safe bleach is safe for both white and colored fabrics. However, never use oxygen-based bleach on silk, wool, or any garment trimmed with leather.
Wash as Usual
If the stain is gone, wash as usual following the garment care instructions. Before tossing that piece of clothing into the dryer let it air dry to ensure the stain is gone.
Do not dry the garment in a dryer until the stain is completely removed, otherwise, the stain could become permanent.
How to Remove Saffron Stains on Carpet and Upholstery
Again, if the saffron is dry, try not to rub it deeper into the fibers. Grab a vacuum or some sticky tape to get the pollen out of the material fibers.
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 special care not to saturate the fabric to prevent excessive moisture in cushions. If the upholstery is silk or heavily embroidered, contact a professional to handle the cleaning.
For wet stains, remove the saffron stains starting with Step 2.
Remove Dry Saffron
If the saffron is dry, use a vacuum to carefully pull the pollen away from the fibers in the carpet or upholstery. You can also use sticky tape to lift up the pollen.
Remove Wet Solids
Lift any wet solid matter from the carpet or upholstery with a dull kitchen knife or the edge of a plastic credit card. Then use a damp, clean white cotton cloth or white paper towel to blot away as much moisture as possible. Do not rub because you can make the stain larger. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel with each blotting action to absorb as much as possible.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
- Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cool water following package directions to remove the remaining yellow stain.
- Apply the solution to the stained area using an eye-dropper to prevent over-wetting the area. Work from the edges toward the center of the stain so the stain will not grow larger.
- Allow the oxygen bleach and water solution to remain on the area for at least 30 minutes.
Blot the Stained Area
Blot the stained area with a dry white cloth or paper towel.
Air-Dry and Vacuum
Allow to air dry away from direct heat. Repeat as often as needed until the stain is removed. Then vacuum to lift any matted carpet fibers.
Additional Tips for Handling Saffron Stains
- Try to avoid touching a pollen stain with your hands, as your skin's oils will attract the pollen and help to set it to the material, and cause it to be more difficult to remove.
- Don't rub or wipe any saffron stain as that will only push it further into the material's fibers and once again, make it harder to remove the stain.