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

Cherries and pits on paper napkin, close up

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Cherry is one of America's favorite flavors. Perhaps that comes from the legend of George Washington and his cherry tree that every kid learns in school. Fresh cherries can be sweet or tart and artificial bright red cherry flavors are found in everything. Here's how to enjoy the flavor and get rid of all traces of the stains.

Washable Clothes and Linens

If the stain comes from fresh cherries, lift any solid matter away from the surface of the fabric with a dull knife or edge of a credit card. Do not rub because that will press the stain deeper into the fibers. If the stain is liquid, like cherry juice or Kool-Aid, blot with a plain white cloth or paper towel.

As soon as possible, hold the cherry stain under a running faucet of cold water. Flush from the wrong side of the fabric to force the stain out of the fibers. Then wash the garment or tablecloth using a heavy-duty detergent (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty with enough enzymes to break apart the stains) and the hottest water recommended on the item's care label

If the cherry stain has dried, use a stain remover like 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 fifteen minutes before washing. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of the heavy duty liquid detergent for pretreating. Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes because cherries are a tannin stain and soap makes them more difficult to remove. Next, wash the stained item in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

Cherry stains that contain artificial red coloring (Maraschino cherries, canned pie filling, cherry soft drinks) will probably need to be treated with bleach to remove lingering color. Chlorine bleach can be used on natural fiber (cotton and linen) white garments and table linens.

For white synthetic fabrics or colored clothes, use an oxygen-based bleach instead. Mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach are brand names) following package directions. Completely submerge the stained items and allow them to soak at least four hours or overnight. Then wash as usual.

After washing, always check clothes to be sure that no stains remain before tossing in the dryer. The high heat of the dryer may permanently set the stains. If a stain remains, repeat the stain removal steps.

Dry Clean Only Clothes

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 as soon as possible head to your dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to the professional cleaner.

If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain first with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the kit's cleaning bag.

Carpets and Upholstery

Use a dull knife or the edge of a spoon to lift any solid cherry pieces from the carpet. Do not rub because that will push the stain deeper into the fibers. Next, use a white paper towel or old white cloth to blot up as much moisture as possible. Try to work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep the stain from spreading and getting larger.

Mix a solution of one teaspoon dishwashing liquid 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. 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 it can actually attract soil.

Allow the area to air dry away from direct heat. If any stain remains, move to the next steps. If not, vacuum to lift fibers.

For tough stains with added red dye, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach in cool water following package directions. Dip a clean sponge into the solution or use an eye dropper to apply to the remaining spot. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, work the solution into the carpet. Do not over wet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes before blotting away.

You can also use hydrogen peroxide to remove the stain if the carpet is white. Drop a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the stained area. Let it work for one hour and then blot away. 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.

To remove cherry stains from upholstery, follow the same cleaning recommendations as those for carpet. Take extra care not to over-saturate the cushions which can cause moisture problems in the cushions. 

If the upholstery is vintage or silk, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Call a professional especially if you need more stain removal tips.