How to Remove Dried-On Fruit Stains from Fabric

Young woman eating strawberry and spilling juice on t-shirt
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If you can deal with a fruit, jam, or jelly stain when it first happens, you're nearly guaranteed success. But if that same stain dries on your clothing or your favorite linen tablecloth, things can get a little dicier. Try these tips and strategies to remove even the most stubborn stain. It is an easy process that usually requires no more than 30 minutes, using materials you likely already have on hand.

Materials You Will Need

  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Borax or baking soda
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Hot water
  • Stain remover stick, gel, or spray
  • Vinegar or lemon juice

How To Remove Dried-On Fruit Stains

  1. Use a dull knife or a spoon to gently scrape away any of the fruit that remains on the fabric. Be careful, because rubbing too vigorously can damage the clothing. The goal is to remove any of the material that hasn't yet absorbed into the fabric. Dried fruit stains will often have seeds or bits of fruit that are still stuck to the fabric. Removing these will make it easier to get rid of the stain.
  2. Mix 3 tablespoons of borax or baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water together to create a thick paste. Using a spoon or dull knife, apply the paste in a layer over the stained area on the fabric. Make the layer as thick as possible, and completely cover the stained area. The thickness of the paste will draw out more of the stain.
  3. Leave the paste on the stained area to dry for at least 15 minutes. As it dries, the paste will soak into the stained area and absorb much of the discoloration.
  4. Using lukewarm water, rinse the paste off of the fabric completely. It may help to rinse the stain and the paste through the back of the fabric.
  1. Using your favorite liquid laundry detergent, rub several drops directly onto the stained area. Allow the area to sit for a few minutes before you proceed to the next step.
  2. Rinse the fabric with hot water by stretching the fabric under the faucet, with the stained area facing down. Use the hottest water that the fabric will tolerate, forcing the hot water to push the stain back through the front of the fabric. If your faucet water isn't hot enough, you can heat water on a stovetop or in a microwave, but make sure to avoid getting burned or damaging the fabric.
  3. Apply your favorite laundry stain remover stick, spray, or gel to the stained area. Be sure to precisely follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. As a last resort, you can try a mild bleaching agent, such as vinegar or lemon juice, to remove the stain. Sponge the bleaching agent into the stained area and let it sit for several minutes. Since bleaching can remove patterns, colors, or designs, this is really a last resort, one you should try only if all other methods fail. Leaving clothing in the sun can increase the bleaching effects, but be careful not to go too far. Rinse the area again.
  1. When the stain is completely gone, wash the fabric normally in the washing machine. Be sure to check the stain again before drying. Even a faint hint of a stain will be set in permanently if you send it through the dryer, so if you see any residual traces of the stain, repeat the stain-removal process until it is gone.