Remove Cinco de Mayo Food Stains

Mexican Food. StockFood Creative/Getty Images

While Cinco de Mayo is much more than a day to enjoy guacamole, salsa and margaritas, that's what most Americans do - eat. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday which celebrates the Mexican victory over French forces on May 5, 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. It's not Mexico’s Independence Day (actually that's September 16) but more of a celebration of the Mexican people's resolve and bravery in the face of an overwhelming foe.

But instead of studying Mexico's history, you and your friends chose to eat and drink and now you have some tough spots to remove. Help is here to help you face your overwhelmingly stained shirt.

If you have only one stain, just identify the culprit and follow the specific stain removal tips for that food. If you have a combination of stains, always begin with a cool water soak for washable garments and move along to more aggressive stain removal procedures. Remember, first do no harm and learn these ten stain removal steps.

If the celebration foods ended up on a dry clean only garment, head to the cleaners as soon as possible. Share what you know about what caused the stains and let the professional get to work.

Here's how to remove some typical Cinco de Mayo food stains:

Tomato Based Sauces and Salsa:

Tomato stains are a tannin stain - a plant component that often shows as a color in the final product.

Fresh tannin stains can usually be removed by laundering the garment using detergent in the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Be sure to pretreat by working a bit of liquid laundry detergent into the stain and allow the garment to sit for about ten minutes before washing.

Never use natural soap in a bar or soap flakes because they make tannin stains more difficult to remove.

Older tannin stains may need to be treated with bleach. Chlorine bleach can be used on white garments and linens. Use color-safe bleach for colored fabrics.


Avocado stains are much like any fruit stain. It's important to treat the stain as soon as possible. First, remove any excess pulp from the fabric with a dull knife. Try not to push more stain into the fabric.

Flush the stained area with cold water. As soon as possible, work some laundry detergent or stain pretreater into the stain. Work it in well and rinse with hot water. If the stain is gone, launder the garment as usual.

If the stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and warm water. Allow the stain to soak overnight. If stain is not gone, repeat this step. If no stain remains, launder as usual.

Queso Blanco or Nacho Cheese Sauce:

Fresh protein stains like cheese or cheese sauce can be removed by soaking and agitating or rubbing the stain in cold water before washing. These stains contain other ingredients but protein needs treatment first. Never use hot water because it cooks the protein making the stain hard to remove.

If the stain is dried or old, scape or brush off any crusted matter, then soak in cold water using a liquid detergent with color-safe bleach.

After pre-soaking for 30 minutes; launder in warm - not hot - water with detergent. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash.


Classic margaritas are easy stains to remove because most of the components are clear - lime juice, tequila, sugar syrup. The key is to flush the area with cool water as soon as possible (lime juice can actually bleach some fabrics) and then wash as soon as possible.

The staining intensifies with the addition of strawberry or pomegranate or Ruby red grapefruit pulp and juices. These are tannin stains (plant stains) that contain natural dyes. Fresh tannin stains can usually be removed by flushing the area with cool water from the reverse side of the fabric, pretreating with a bit of heavy duty laundry detergent (Wisk, Tide, Persil) and then laundering the garment in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

Older tannin stains or drinks with artificial coloring may need to be treated with bleach. Chlorine bleach can be used on white garments and linens. Use color-safe bleach for colored fabrics.

With these stain removal tips you can have a happy, stain-free Seis de Mayo!