Remove Beef and Red Meat Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

How to Remove Beef and Red Meat Stains From Clothing and Fabric

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Whether you like a juicy New York Strip steak, a pot roast, or a simple ground meat patty, the versatility of beef and all red meats such as lamb, venison, and bison can produce just as many different stains on clothes. Treating the stains the right way and with success depends on whether the meat is raw or how it was prepared.

Washable Clothes

If the red meat is raw and is dropped on fabric, remove any solids and then treat the spot like a bloodstain. As soon as possible, flush the stained area by holding it with the wrong side directly under a running cold water faucet to force the blood out of the fibers. Never use hot water because it can cook the protein in the blood binding it into the fabric fibers and make the stain more difficult to remove. After flushing, launder as recommended on the care label.

Red meat that has been cooked usually produces an oily stain from the rendered fat. Even lean red meat like bison will still produce an oily stain. When any cooked meat falls on fabric, use a dull knife or spoon to lift any solids off the fabric. Then blot the stain with a plain white paper towel or napkin to absorb as much oil as possible. If you have a bit of cornstarch or talcum powder, sprinkle it on the stain to help absorb the oil. Even a slice of white bread can absorb the oil until you can wash the clothes or table linen.

Oily stains require the use of a solvent-based stain remover. If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent such as Tide or Persil (these are leading high-performance brands that contain the necessary enzymes to break apart the oil molecules) directly to the stain, and work it in by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers or using an old soft toothbrush. Let the stain remover work on the stain for at least 10 to 15 minutes and then wash as recommended on the care label using the hottest water suggested.

Of course, many stains caused by red meat are combination stains due to the method of cooking used, recipe, and added ingredients. You will need to follow specific tips to remove gravy, BBQ saucecheese sauce, or steak sauce.

blotting a tshirt to pretreat a stain
​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Dry-Clean-Only Clothes

If the garment is labeled as dry-clean-only, remove any solids by lifting away from the fabric with a dull knife, spoon edge, or even the edge of a credit card. Next, blot the stain with a dry white cloth or paper towel. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. Be sure to mention if additional sauces or ingredients were involved.

If the stain is small and you opt 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.

lifting a solid off of a dry clean only shirt
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 

Carpet and Upholstery

If raw or cooked meat hits the carpet, remove any solids as quickly as possible. Immediately blot the stain with a plain white cloth or paper towel to absorb either the oil or blood. 

As soon as possible, mix a solution of 1 teaspoon hand dishwashing liquid and 2 cups of lukewarm water. Use a sponge or soft-bristled brush to work the solution into the stain. Start at the outside edge and work toward the center to keep the stain from spreading. Use a white cloth or paper towel to blot away the stain as it is lifted from the fibers.

Next, use a sponge to "rinse" the stained area with plain water. If you leave a soapy residue in the carpet fibers it will attract soil. Keep blotting with a clean white cloth until no more soap remains. Allow the area to air-dry away from direct heat or sunlight and then vacuum to lift carpet fibers.

The same cleaning tips recommended for carpet can be used to remove meat stains from upholstery fabrics. Take extra care when cleaning not to overwet the fabric. Excessive moisture in the cushions can cause problems.

If the upholstery fabric is silk or vintage, contact a professional upholstery cleaner.

blotting a rug with a paper towel
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska