How to Remove Fried Chicken Stains from Clothes, Carpet, and Furniture

How to Remove Fried Chicken Stains From Clothes

The Spruce / Katie Kerpel

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 - 45 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

It figures—you're indulging in a crispy, delicious piece of fried chicken, and you drop it. It hits the arm of your favorite upholstered chair and your pants before landing on the carpet. Greasy stains mark every fabric the drumstick hit.

Is the situation hopeless? Not at all! Fried chicken and other oily foods are notorious stain-makers, but all traces can usually be removed with these simple steps that apply to clothing, furniture, and carpet.

 Stain Type  Fried food
 Detergent Type  Heavy duty
 Water Temperature  Cold, warm, and/or hot

Before You Begin

When any type of fried food lands on clothes or other fabrics, never rub or wipe the stain because that will only push it deeper into the fibers. Instead, grab a dull knife or a spoon and head to the laundry room to start the stain removal process.

When to Call a Professional

If your stained upholstery is silk or vintage, sprinkle with cornstarch and call a professional before attempting to remove the stain.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Soft bristle brush or old toothbrush
  • Bowl
  • Paper towels, a clean cloth, or a slice of bread
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum

Materials

  • Cornstarch or baking soda
  • Solvent-based spray, gel stain remover, or heavy-duty liquid detergent
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Household ammonia

Instructions

How to Remove Fried Food Stains from Machine-Washable Clothes

Tip

Resist trying a stain removal pen, as it will not be effective in removing oils. 

  1. Scoop, Sprinkle, and Wait

    Scoop away any solid matter gently with the edge of a dull knife or spoon. Next, sprinkle the stain liberally with some cornstarch or 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.

  2. Pre-treat the Stain

    Pre-treat 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 directly onto the stain and work it in by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers or using an old soft toothbrush. If you only have powdered detergent, make a paste with a bit of warm water and apply it to the stain.

    treating a fried food stain on a washable garment
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Wait While it Works

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

  4. Rinse Synthetics in a Sink

    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.

  5. Wash as Usual

    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. 

  6. Inspect and Repeat if Needed

    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.

How to Remove Fried Food Stains from Dry Clean Only Clothes

Tip

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.

  1. Lift, Blot, and Sprinkle

    Use a dull knife or spoon edge to lift away any greasy solids. Blot away as much of the oil as possible with a dry paper towel, a cloth, or even a slice of white bread. Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or baking soda, wait 15 minutes, then dust away.

  2. Spot Treat

    If the oil stain is small, you may be able to remove it by spot treating it with a dry cleaning solvent

  3. Take it to the Cleaner

    As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

How to Remove Fried Food Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Tip

The same cleaning techniques and products recommended for carpets can be used to remove fried food stains from upholstery. If you use the wet cleaning steps, be careful not to over-wet the fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can encourage mildew and musty smells to develop.

  1. Lift, Sprinkle, and Vacuum

    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 or baking soda and use a soft bristle brush to work the powder into the carpet. Allow the absorbing powder to sit on the stain for at least 15 minutes and then vacuum. 

  2. Blot

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

  3. Rub (Gently) and Dry

    If you do not have a dry cleaning solvent or carpet cleaning product, mix one tablespoon of hand dishwashing detergent in two cups of hot water and one tablespoon of household ammonia. Rub 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. 

  4. Rinse and Repeat if Needed

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

sprinkling baking soda on a rug
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Additional Tips for Handling Fried Food Stains

If you're unsatisfied with your initial stain removal results, try running through the steps again. While some deeply pigmented foods can leave permanent stains, grease and oil can generally be eliminated in time.