How to Remove Dried-on Fruit Stains From Fabric

How to Remove Dried-On Fruit Stains From Fabric

The Spruce / Alex Dos Diaz

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Fruit, jam, and jelly spills are easy to clean up right after they happen, but their stains become more challenging to remove from fabric after the fruit dries. Fruit-based stains are sticky, and the longer they sit on clothing, the deeper their pigments sink into natural and synthetic fibers. But, don't toss your favorite fruit-stained garments just yet.

Use the simple tools and techniques below to remove even the most stubborn dried-on fruit stains.

 Stain Type Tannin-based
 Detergent Type Liquid laundry 
 Water Temperature Warm 
 Cycle Type Normal 

Before You Begin

Older or dried stains will be harder to remove, so know that you might need to repeat the cleaning process several times before the stain disappears. Check the care label on the garment and test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric. While most cleaning methods are gentle enough for a diverse range of fabrics, knowing an item's specific care needs will help you choose the best stain removal option.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Washing machine

Materials

  • Borax or baking soda
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
  • Stain remover stick, gel, or spray

Instructions

Removing Dried-On Fruit Stains

items for removing dried fruit stains

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  1. Scoop Away Excess Fruit

    Scrape away fruit solids like seeds or other sticky bits that remain on the fabric with a dull knife or a spoon. Be gentle, though, because rubbing too vigorously can damage the clothing or force the fruit deeper into the fibers.

  2. Spread a Paste Over the Stain

    Mix 3 tablespoons of borax or baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water to create a thick paste. Spread an even layer of paste over the stained fabric, completely covering the area.

    Leave the paste on the stained area to dry for at least 15 minutes. As it dries, the paste will absorb pigment and lighten the stain.

  3. Rinse the Paste

    Using warm water, rinse the dried paste off of the fabric completely, rubbing with your fingers as necessary to loosen the powder.

  4. Apply Liquid Laundry Detergent

    Rub several drops of your favorite liquid laundry detergent directly onto the stained area. Allow the detergent to sit for about five minutes before you proceed to the next step.

  5. Rinse With Hot Water

    Rinse the fabric with hot water by stretching the stained area under a faucet, with the stain facing down. Use the hottest water that the fabric will tolerate, forcing the stain back through the front of the fabric.

  6. Apply a Stain Remover

    Apply your favorite laundry stain remover stick, spray, or gel to the stained area. Be sure to precisely follow the manufacturer's instructions.

  7. Wash the Garment

    Wash the fabric normally in the washing machine per the garment's care label instructions. Before drying, check to be sure that the stain is completely gone because even a faint hint of a stain will be set permanently by the heat of a dryer.

    If you see residual traces of the stain, repeat the stain-removal process until it is gone.

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is labeled dry clean only, take it to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the proper treatment. The same applies to a stain that damages silk or vintage clothing; you need to contact a professional cleaner, or else you are likely to do more damage if you try to remove the stain yourself.

Additional Tips for Handling Dried-on Fruit Stains

  • As a last resort for a super-stubborn stain on colorfast clothing, try a mild bleaching agent like vinegar or lemon juice. First, try the bleaching agent on a hidden area of the clothing, letting it dry to fully test its effect.
  • If the fabric color and pattern were unharmed, dab the liquid onto the stained area and let it sit for several minutes. Leaving clothing in direct sunlight can increase the bleaching effects, but be careful not to go too far.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly, and launder as usual.