How to Remove Fried Chicken Stains From Clothes, Carpet, Upholstery

person eating fried chicken with stain visible on shirt

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Fried chicken is certainly not the healthiest food choice but it sure is good whether you enjoy it cold from the fridge or with a waffle and a bit of hot sauce. If you drop some fried chicken or any fried food down your shirt or on the carpet, here's how to remove the stains. 

Fried Food Stains and Washable Clothes

When any type of fried food lands on clothes or table linens, never rub or wipe the stain because that will only push it deeper into the fibers of the fabric. Gently lift away any solid matter with the edge of a dull knife or spoon. Next, sprinkle the stain liberally with some cornstarch, baby powder, baking soda to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Leave it on the stain for about fifteen minutes so the powder can absorb the oil before you brush it away. These steps will make stain removal in the laundry room much easier.

As soon as possible, head to the laundry room and pretreat the stain with a solvent-based spray or gel stain remover like Zout or Shout. If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, apply a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent like Tide or Persil (these are leading high-performance brands that contain the necessary enzymes to remove the stains) directly onto the stain and work it in by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers or use an old soft toothbrush. If you only have powdered detergent, make a paste with a bit of warm water and apply to the stain.

Be patient and allow the stain remover to work on the stain for at least 15 minutes, 30 minutes are even better. This will allow the chemicals to break apart the oil molecules making them easier to flush out of the fabric fibers.

After pretreatment, wash the garment as usual in the hottest water recommended for the fabric along with the recommended amount of detergent for a regular load of laundry. 

If the fabric is made of a synthetic fiber like polyester that wouldn't normally be washed in hot water, stretch the pretreated stained area of the fabric over a bowl and pour a steady stream of hot water directly onto the stain and then wash in cold or warm water.

Inspect the stained area of the garment before drying and repeat the treatment if necessary. Never place an oil-stained garment in a dryer, the high heat will make the oil even more difficult to remove. Repeat the cleaning steps if necessary.

treating a fried food stain on a washable garment
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Dry Clean Only Fabrics and Fried Food Stains

If you're wearing something that is labeled as dry clean only, use a dull knife or edge of a credit card to lift away the greasy solids. Blot away as much of the oil as possible with a dry white paper towel, a slice of white bread, or you can sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or talcum powder.

If the oil stain is small, you may be able to remove it by spot treating with a dry cleaning solvent. A stain removal pen will not be effective in removing oil. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Fried Food Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

As soon as possible, lift away any fried food from the carpet fibers using a dull knife. Do not rub because it will only push the oil deeper into the carpet and make the stain larger.

Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch, baking soda, or talcum powder to absorb the oil. Use a soft bristle brush to work the powder into the carpet. Allow the absorbing powder to sit on the stain for at least fifteen minutes and then vacuum to remove the powder. 

Following the product instructions, blot the stain with a dry cleaning solvent using a clean white cloth or paper towel. Keep blotting until no more oil is transferred from the carpet to the cloth.

If you do not have a dry cleaning solvent or carpet cleaning product, mix one tablespoon of hand dishwashing detergent in two cups hot water with one tablespoon household ammonia. Blot the stain with a sponge or soft bristled brush dipped in the cleaning solution and then with a dry paper towel until the stain is removed. 

Be sure to "rinse" the area with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue that will actually attract more soil. Repeat the cleaning steps until no more stain remains.

The same cleaning techniques and products recommended for carpet can be used to remove fried food stains from upholstery. If you use the wet cleaning steps, be careful not to overwet the fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can cause a problem.

If the upholstery is silk or vintage, sprinkle with cornstarch and call a professional before attempting to remove the stain or if you need more stain removal tips.

sprinkling baking soda on a rug
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska