How to Remove Glow Stick Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Glow sticks
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Glow sticks are fun for kids of all ages. But what happens if one happens to break and the liquid spills out onto clothes or linens? The stain can be difficult to wash out if you do not get to it right away—due to the components in the liquid. Most glow sticks contain hydrogen peroxide, phenyl oxalate ester, and a fluorescent dye. The damage begins with the hydrogen peroxide, which is a mild form of bleach that can remove the original color from fabrics, and the fluorescent dyes (usually green, red or blue) will stain.

The glow sticks are activated by bending the tube to break an inner thin glass capsule and then shaken to combine the chemicals. This is important to note since a glow stick breakage means that the spilled contents may contain shards of glass.

Stain Type Dye-based 
Detergent Type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature  Cold 

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 hours

Before You Begin

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, immediately blot away any stain with a dry white paper towel. Then blot the stain with a white cloth dipped in plain cool water. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to keep the stain from getting larger. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as any dye is transferred. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If the stain is small and you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold water
  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent
  • Stain remover (optional)
  • White vinegar (optional for white/colorfast clothing)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional for white/colorfast clothing)
  • Lemon juice (optional for white clothing)

Tools

  • Water faucet
  • Deep sink, plastic tub, or soaking basin
  • Washing machine
  • Paper towels (for carpet or upholstery)
  • Soft-bristled brush (for carpet or upholstery)
  • Vacuum (for carpet or upholstery)

How to Remove Glow Stick Stains From Clothes

  1. Flush the Stain With Water

    To flush the stain, hold the fabric under a cold water faucet running at full force. Flush from the wrong side of the fabric to force the glow stick stain out the face of the fibers—especially if the fabric is plush like a fake fur. Be aware that the inner capsule of the glow stick may leave small glass shards in the fabric.

  2. Soak the Stain in Oxygen-Based Bleach

    The stain should be allowed to soak overnight in a solution of cool water and oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite). Fill a deep sink or plastic tub with cool water and add the amount of oxygen bleach suggested on the package. Completely submerge the stained fabric in the solution. This cleaning solution is safe to use on all washable fabrics, white and colored except for silk, wool, and anything trimmed with leather.

  3. Wash Normally or Repeat If Needed

    If the dye stain is gone after soaking, wash as recommended on the fabric care tag. If the stain remains, mix a new solution of oxygen bleach and water and repeat another overnight soak.

    How to Remove Glow Stick Stains From Carpet or Upholstery

    If a glow stick breaks above a carpet, be careful of the tiny shards of glass that might have been caught up in the fibers. Immediately blot up as much of the moisture as possible with a paper towel. Work from the outside of the stain toward the center to keep it from spreading and getting larger. 

    The same cleaning solutions and steps recommended for carpet should be used to clean glow stick stains from upholstery. Take care not to over-wet the fabric with the cleaning solutions because that can cause moisture problems in the cushion filling.

    Cleaning Silk or Vintage Fabric

    If the upholstery is vintage or silk, blot away the initial moisture and then callcontact an upholstery cleaning specialist.

  4. Apply Liquid Detergent, White Vinegar, and Water Solution

    Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, and 1 cup of cool water. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution and work it into the stained area.

  5. Blot the Area

    Blot away the cleaning solution with a dry white paper towel. Next, dip a clean white cloth into plain cool water and wipe, rinse, and blot the area. It is important to rinse the cloth as you go, the soapy solution can actually attract soil.

  6. Air Dry and Vacuum

Allow the area to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat. Block off the area to prevent accidental cuts from the glass. When the area is dry, vacuum well to remove the glass and lift the carpet fibers.

For more stain removal tips, consult our stain removal guide.