Vanilla extract is found in almost every recipe for baked goods and desserts for the delightful floral flavor that enhances other ingredients. The extract is made from vanilla beans that have been steeped in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water to release their exquisite flavor. Because vanilla beans are a plant, the extract leaves a tannin stain—a plant component that often shows as a color in the final product.
Fresh vanilla extract stains can usually be removed by simply washing the garment or kitchen linens in the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric on the care label. Use a good quality detergent (Wisk, Tide or Persil are the highest ranked in performance) that contains the necessary enzymes to dissolve the stains.
When a stain happens, immediately blot the fabric with a clean white paper towel. If possible, flush the stained area under a cold water faucet to dilute the stain.
Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes to remove vanilla extract stains because they can make tannin stains more difficult to remove.
If the stain is older, you may need to use additional stain removal products. Chlorine bleach can be used to remove the vanilla extract stains on white cotton garments and linens. For synthetic fabrics like polyester and colored or printed fabrics, use color-safe oxygen-based bleach. To remove the stains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Tide Oxi, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and tepid water following package directions and completely submerge the garment. Allow it to soak at least four hours or overnight and then launder as usual.
How to Remove Vanilla Extract Stains From Dry Clean Only Clothes
If you have on a garment that is labeled as dry clean only, immediately blot the vanilla extract stain with a clean white cloth until no more moisture is transferred to the cloth. 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 dryer bag.
How to Remove Vanilla Extract Stains From Carpet
If a drop or splash of vanilla extract lands on the carpet or rug that cannot go into the washer, act immediately. Blot up as much of the moisture as possible with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Work from the outer edges of the stain toward the center when blotting to prevent making the stain larger.
Next, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap with two cups of warm water. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the mixture, saturate the vanilla extract stain working from the outside edges of the stain toward the center. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred to the cloth. Work slowly and methodically.
When no more stain is being transferred, dip a clean cloth in plain water to rinse the area. Rinsing is very important because the soap solution can attract soil. Blot with a dry cloth and allow to air dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift fibers.
If the stain remains after drying, treat the stain with a solution of oxygen bleach and water. Saturate the stain and allow the solution to remain for at least one hour. Blot to dry, but do not use oxygen bleach on a wool carpet as it can cause discoloration and change the texture of the fibers.
How to Remove Vanilla Extract Stains From Upholstery
If some vanilla extract lands on a kitchen chair cushion, use the same cleaning solutions and techniques recommended for carpet. Take care not to over-saturate the fabric because excess moisture in the cushion or filling can cause problems.
If the upholstery is vintage or silk, consult a professional upholstery cleaning company or if you need more stain removal tips.