How to Remove Cherry Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Cherries and pits on paper napkin, close up

Grace Clementine/Getty Images

Cherry stains range from the watery purple of natural cherries to the candy red of maraschino cherries to the dark purplish-red of cherry Kool-Aid and other artificially flavored (and colored) drinks. Not surprisingly, stains from natural cherry tend to be easier to remove than those from artificial coloring agents. But most cherry stains can be conquered with common cleaners and detergents. As with many types of stains, always check clothes after washing to be sure that none of the stain remains before drying the clothes. The high heat of the dryer can permanently set a stain.

Stain Type Tannin
Detergent Type Prewash stain treatment and laundry detergent
Water Temperature Hot

Before You Begin

Methods for removing cherry stains are somewhat different for fresh and dried stains, primarily in the pretreatment steps. Stains from cherries with added dyes usually require strong cleaners, such as bleach, to remove the dye’s color.

If the cherry stain is on a garment that is labeled as dry clean only, remove any solids and blot the area with a white cloth to remove as much of the stain as possible, then bring the garment to a professional dry cleaner. You can also try to remove the stain with a home dry cleaning kit. In this case, treat the stain first with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the kit's cleaning bag.

If you get a cherry stain on upholstery that is silk or a vintage fabric, have it cleaned by a professional.

How to Remove Cherry Stains From Washable Clothes and Linens

Project Metrics

Working time: 1 minute

Total time: 15 to 45 minutes plus washing time

What You’ll Need



  • Dull knife or credit card
  • White cloth or paper towel

Don't Use Regular Soap

Never use natural soap (in bar or flake form) because cherries are a tannin stain and soap makes them more difficult to remove.

  1. Remove the Food

    Lift any solid matter away from the surface of the fabric with a dull knife or the edge of a credit card. Be careful not to rub the stain because that will force it deeper into the fibers. If the stain is liquid, like cherry juice or Kool-Aid, blot it with a plain white cloth or paper towel.

  2. Pretreat the Stain

    If the stain is fresh, hold the fabric under a faucet and flush it with cold water to force the stain out of the fibers, running the water through the back side of the material. If the stain has dried, use a prewash stain remover (such as Zout, Shout, or Spray 'n Wash) to pretreat the stain. Work the stain remover into the stain with a soft-bristle brush and allow it to remain on the stain for at least 15 minutes before washing. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of the heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent for pretreating. 

  3. Soak in Bleach (Optional)

    Soak the fabric in a bleach solution if the stain contains artificial red coloring. You can use chlorine bleach for white fabrics made of natural fibers (such as cotton and linen); for white synthetic fabrics or colored clothes, use an oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach). Mix a solution of bleach and warm water in a bucket or sink, following the package directions. Completely submerge the stained items and allow them to soak for 30 minutes or as recommended.

  4. Wash the Fabric

Wash the item in the hottest water recommended for the fabric, using a heavy-duty laundry detergent (Tide and Persil are two good options that contain enzymes to break down cherry stains). Confirm that the stain is gone before drying the item.

How to Remove Cherry Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

The same techniques can be used to treat cherry stains on carpet and upholstery. Take care when cleaning upholstery not to over-wet the stained areas. Excessive moisture in the cushions can cause mildew problems. If the fabric is vintage or silk, consult a professional cleaner.

Project Metrics

Working time: 10 to 15 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

What You’ll Need


  • Liquid dish soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Water


  • Spoon or dull knife
  • White cloth or paper towel
  • Eye-dropper
  • Sponge
  1. Lift and Blot

    Use a spoon or a dull knife to lift any solid cherry pieces from the carpet or upholstery fabric. Avoid rubbing, which spreads the stain and pushes it deeper into the fibers. Next, use a white paper towel or clean white cloth to blot up as much moisture as possible. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep the stain from spreading.

  2. Blot the Stain With Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of one teaspoon liquid dish soap with two cups of lukewarm water. Dip a white cloth, sponge, or paper towel into the solution and blot the cherry stain. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred out of the carpet. Repeat until no more stain is transferred to the cloth.

  3. Rinse the Area

    When no more stain is transferred, dip a clean white cloth in plain water and "rinse" by blotting the stain again. It is important to rinse the detergent out of the carpet because soap residue attracts soil. Be careful not to wet cushions too much to prevent moisture problems.

  4. Vacuum the Carpet

Allow the area to air dry, preferably out of direct sunlight. Vacuum the carpet to lift and separate the fibers.

For tough carpet and upholstery stains with added red dye, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach in cool water, following the package directions. Dip a clean sponge into the solution or use an eyedropper to apply to the remaining spot. Work the solution into the carpet or fabric, moving from the outside edge of the stain toward the center. Do not get the area overly wet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes before blotting it away with a clean cloth dampened with water.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide to remove the stain if the carpet is white. Apply a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide onto the stained area. Let it work for one hour and then blot with a clean cloth. There is no need to rinse because exposure to light turns hydrogen peroxide into plain water. Repeat if necessary. Allow the carpet to dry completely and vacuum to restore the pile of the carpet.