Beets are a healthy, delicious, and beautiful addition to any plate. But that red color is a powerful dyeing agent on fabrics. You can even use beets to dye yarn and fabric. If you don't want to dye your entire tablecloth or outfit, learning how to remove beet stains is a must.
As with almost all stains, quick treatment offers the best chance for success in removing beet stains. If a beet lands in your lap, remove any pieces with a dull knife or the edge of a spoon. Do not rub or you can spread the stain and push the dye deeper into fabric fibers. Blot the wet stain with a clean white paper towel or even a slice of white bread to absorb as much liquid as possible. As quickly as you can, flood the beet-stained area with cold water. Flush under a stream of cold running water from the wrong side of the fabric to force out the dye.
Next, treat the stained area with a stain remover. If you don't have a stain remover, work a bit of heavy-duty detergent that contains enough stain-removing enzymes to be effective (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty) into the stained area. Allow the cleaning solution to work on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes and then rinse in cold water. This will remove any oily components or other ingredients in the beet dish from the fabric as well.
If traces of the red color remain (and it probably will) mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Mix enough so that the entire garment or tablecloth can be completely submerged. Allow the fabric to soak for at least eight hours. Check the beet stain. If it is gone, wash as usual.
If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain but it should come out.
Dry Clean Only Clothes
Again, lift away any beet solids using a dull knife or spoon. As soon as possible head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain.
If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag. However, you may not have great success and the heat from the dryer may make the stain impossible to remove.
Carpet and Upholstery
Remove any beet solids from the carpet with a knife or spoon. Do not rub because that will push the stain deeper in the fibers.
Blot the stained area with a clean, white paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. To remove the dye stain, start with one tablespoon of household ammonia in one-half cup warm water. Stir well to mix. Use a clean white cloth to dipped in the ammonia and water solution to sponge the stain. Work from the outside edges toward the center to keep the stain as small as possible.
When no more color transfers to the cloth, blot with a dry cloth until all liquid is absorbed. Dip a clean white cloth in plain cool water and sponge to rinse the area. Do not leave any solution on the carpet to attract soil.
Blot with a clean dry cloth and allow to air dry. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.
If any traces of red dye stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cool water following product directions. (DO NOT mix the ammonia and oxygen-based bleach together or ammonia with any other cleaning product because hazardous fumes can occur.) Sponge the solution onto the stained carpet area and allow to work for at least one hour before blotting away with a dry paper towel. Repeat if necessary and then sponge with plain water and allow to air dry.
The same cleaning steps can be used to clean most upholstery. Take extra care not to overwet the fabric. Do not use the ammonia or oxygen-based bleach solution on silk or vintage fabrics. Consult a professional cleaner to remove stains on those fabrics or if you need more stain removal tips.