The complex combination of spices in curry gives the dish its wonderful, exotic flavor. Unfortunately, those same spices can permanently stain fabrics if a curry spill is not handled quickly. Turmeric and paprika, two of the primary spices in curry, can even be used to dye fabrics. So, unless you want to update your favorite white jeans—or your carpet—to a deep shade of gold, the curry must come out in a hurry.
Learn how to save your clothing, carpet, and upholstery from colorful curry spills.
|Detergent Type||Laundry, oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar|
|Water Temperature||Cold and warm|
|Cycle Type||Varies depending on the type of fabric|
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Dull knife or spoon
- Paper towels or a white cloth
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Laundry detergent
- Oxygen bleach
- Dishwashing liquid
- White vinegar or household ammonia
Before You Begin
You'll have the best luck at removing a curry stain if you treat it as soon as possible. If the food sits for too long or, worse yet, dries on the fabric, then the chances of completely removing the stain are greatly reduced.
Steps to Remove Curry from Washable Clothing
Always check to ensure the stain has disappeared or is suitably faded before placing the garment in the dryer. The high heat from the dryer will permanently set the stain. Heat is part of setting the color when dyeing with curry spices.
Scrape to Remove Solids
Gently scrape the stain with a dull knife edge or spoon to lift away any curry solids from the fabric. Do not wipe the stain with a cloth or sponge, or you may drive the pigment deeper into the fabric fibers. This makes it even more difficult to remove.
Mix a Solution of Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix a solution of regular strength (3 percent) hydrogen peroxide and water. The solution should be very weak: one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide to one-half cup water. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and should not be used at full strength on colored fabrics, including colorfast articles of clothing. However, full-strength hydrogen peroxide can be used on white fabrics.
Soak, Rinse, and Wash
Place the stained area of the fabric in a bowl of the peroxide solution and soak for at least two hours. Then, rinse the stained area in cool, clean water before washing the entire garment as directed on the clothing label using your regular detergent and the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Examine the stained area before drying.
Soak Stubborn Stains in Oxygen Bleach
Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names include OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and warm water, following package directions. Mix enough of the solution to submerge the entire garment, and allow it to soak overnight. If the stain is still visible, repeat this soaking step with a fresh solution. When no stain remains, launder as usual.
Steps to Remove Curry from Dry Clean Only Clothing
Scrape to Remove Solids
Remove any curry solids with the edge of a dull knife or spoon. Do not rub with a cloth or sponge.
Blot with Borax
Mix one tablespoon borax powder with two cups of lukewarm water. Use a sponge to apply the borax solution to the stain. Do not saturate the stain, simply sponge on the solution and blot away the curry with a white absorbent cloth or paper towel as it is loosened. Repeat until no more curry color is transferred to the paper towel.
Rinse and Air Dry
When the stain is lifted, sponge the area with cool, clean water and allow to air dry away from direct heat. If any stain remains, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner and identify the stain.
Steps to Remove Curry from Carpet and Furniture
Scrape to Remove Solids
When a blob of curry hits the carpet, use that dull knife or spoon to lift away all the solids you can. Take care not to spread the stain by rubbing.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Start by mixing a solution of one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, two cups of cool water, and one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar or household ammonia. Stir to mix well.
Sponge on the Solution
Use a clean white cloth or paper towel and sponge the stain with the solution. Allow this mixture to sit for five minutes and then blot away with a dry cloth. Repeat until no more color is transferred to the white cloth.
Blot and Air Dry
Dip another clean white cloth in plain water and blot the stain to rinse away any soapy residue. Move to a dry cloth and blot until all moisture is absorbed. Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct heat.
Try Oxygen Bleach
Mix a solution of all-fabric oxygen bleach and warm water, following the package label directions, to treat a lingering stain. Blot the area with the solution and allow the solution to stay on the stain for at least thirty minutes to one hour. Blot with a dry white cloth and allow to air dry. Finally, vacuum the carpet to lift fibers.
Apply These Steps to Upholstered Furniture
The same treatments can be used on most upholstery fabrics. Just take extra care not to over-wet the fabric. If the upholstery is silk, wool, or vintage, consult a professional cleaner especially if you need more stain removal tips.
Additional Tips for Handling Curry Stains
Although the removal of curry stains is notoriously difficult, it can be done. The key is early treatment—immediately after the spill, if possible. When you've tried everything, and you're still faced with a stain, there's a good chance that a professional dry cleaner or carpet cleaner will be able to help.
When to Call a Professional
You are as capable as the pros when it comes to trying stain removal tricks on machine washable fabrics. But, in cases involving curry and dry clean only items, carpets, or furniture, professional cleaners may have access to cleaning chemicals that will work on a tough stain.
The other instance in which it's best to defer to professionals is when you're dealing with a delicate fabric. If your garment or upholstery is silk, wool, velvet, embellished, or anything vintage, consult a professional cleaner before risking damage from improper handling techniques.