How to Remove Caramel Stains from Clothing

How to Remove Caramel Stains

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

A delicious ice cream sundae would not be complete without its caramel topping, but drips seem inevitable. If you have kids (or not), some of that topping always seems to find its way onto your clothes. Once it dries and hardens, it turns into a mess that will not come out of your clothes. Find out how to remove dried caramel stains from your laundry.

Stain Type   Caramel
Detergent Type  Laundry, oxygen bleach
Water Temperature  Warm and hot
Cycle Type Normal

Before You Begin

Caramel includes sugar and butter and usually has food coloring added. This makes it a greasy and sticky stain that can soak into the fibers of your clothing and even spread a bit from the initial contact area. When you think of a caramel stain, think of the butter as the biggest problem in the stain.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine


  • Ice or an ice pack
  • Borax
  • Stain remover, stick, gel, or spray
  • Hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, or lemon juice
  • Liquid laundry detergent


Steps to Remove Caramel Stains from Clothing

Use these steps to launder an item stained with caramel. The key is to remain persistent and resist the urge to put the item in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

  1. Ice, Lift, and Dab

    • Apply ice to the caramel spot immediately, if possible. Just pile on a few cubes or an ice pack. Chilled caramel will harden, making it a lot easier to scrape off than warm, sticky caramel.
    • Use a spoon or the dull side of a knife to lift off the sticky caramel.
    • Dab the area with a wet paper towel.
  2. Apply Borax Solution

    Mix 1 tablespoon of water with 3 tablespoons of borax and spread it onto the stain liberally. Borax is a great stain fighter and has the strength to penetrate the caramel stain.


    Be careful handling borax. It can be an eye, skin, and lung irritant.

  3. Wait and Rinse

    Let the garment sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. This will give you a good idea of how much of the stain, if any, is left.

  4. Apply Liquid Detergent

    Rub liquid detergent into the caramel stain. Use enough liquid detergent to cover the caramel stain. Using your thumb and fingers, rub it in gently. The goal is to saturate the stained area.

  5. Wait and Rinse, Again

    Let the caramel stain stand for at least five minutes before rinsing hot water through the back of the stain over the sink. Make the water as hot as you can to help force the stain out.


    Be sure to read the directions for your fabric type. Some fabrics cannot tolerate hot water, in which case, you will need to use warm water.

  6. Apply Stain Remover

    Apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray, and wash regularly with liquid detergent. Be sure to check the clothing after it comes out of the washer and before it goes into the dryer.


    Do not put a fabric with a caramel stain in the dryer. The dry heat will permanently set the stain.

  7. Add a Bleaching Agent (White or Colorfast Fabrics Only)

    Use a mild bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar if the stain remains and the garment is white (or you have tested it for colorfastness).

    You can also use lemon juice for lightening. Cover the stained area, let it sit for about an hour, and rinse thoroughly.


    If you allow the item to dry in the sun, it can increase the bleaching effect, but be warned, this will bleach away color or designs, too. Use these methods only on white clothing.

  8. Repeat if Necessary

    Apply stain remover stick, gel, or spray again and rewash with liquid detergent if traces of the stain remain after completing the above steps.

Additional Tips for Handling Caramel Stains