How to Remove Gravy Stains From Clothes, Linens, and Carpet

How to Remove Gravy Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 10

There's nothing like gravy to add creamy deliciousness to mashed potatoes, turkey, roast beef, and so many other dishes. Unfortunately, drips of gravy aren't so great when they land on your shirt, tablecloth, carpet, or upholstery. Because gravy is oil-based, it can leave a permanent stain if you don't take action quickly. Luckily, most of the time you can remove gravy stains, especially from natural fabrics like cotton. Here's how to remove those pesky gravy stains from clothing, table linens, carpet, or upholstery.

 Stain type  Oil-based
 Detergent type  Heavy-duty
 Water temperature  Varies based on fabric
 Cycle type  Varies based on fabric

When to Call a Professional

If the fabric is labeled as dry clean only, the first step is to lift away as much of the gravy as possible with a dull knife or spoon. Do not rub! You can spot clean very small gravy spots on a tie or jacket with a dry cleaning solvent or enzyme-based laundry stain remover. Always follow product label directions and test the solvent on an inside seam to be sure it will not fade the fabric. 

However, the best choice for most gravy-stained dry-clean only garments or table linens is to get it to a cleaner and point out and identify the stain as soon as possible. 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.

If the gravy dripped onto silk or vintage upholstery, sprinkle the stained area with cornstarch and then call a professional upholstery cleaner. Don't attempt to treat these delicate fabrics yourself without professional advice.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothing or Table Linens

  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Washing machine

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • White cloth or paper towel (optional)
  • Mixing bowl (optional)
  • Sponge (optional)

Materials

Clothing or Table Linens

  • Solvent-based laundry stain remover spray or gel
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach

Carpet or Upholstery

  • Cornstarch or baking soda
  • Carpet/upholstery stain removal spray (optional)
  • Liquid dishwashing soap (optional)
  • Household ammonia (optional)

Instructions

How to Remove Gravy Stains From Clothing or Table Linens

  1. Scrape Away Excess Gravy

    Lift as much gravy as possible with the edge of a dull knife or spoon. Do not rub, which can push the gravy further into the fabric fibers.

  2. Apply Stain Remover

    Apply a solvent-based laundry stain remover, such as Shout or Zout, to the gravy stained area. If you don't have a laundry stain remover on hand, you can use a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent instead.

  3. Work Stain Remover Into the Fabric

    Work the stain remover thoroughly into the stained area with a small soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush. Then let the stained garment sit for at least 15 minutes while the stain remover breaks up the gravy residue.

  4. Wash in Hot Water

    Wash the garment or table linen in the hottest water indicated as safe on the care label. Use a heavy-duty laundry detergent, and add oxygen bleach (also called color-safe bleach) to the load, following package directions for amount.

    Warning

    While safe for most fabrics, oxygen bleach should not be used on silk, wool, or any garment with leather trim or wooden buttons.

  5. Check for Lingering Stains

    Check the stained area before tossing the garment or tablecloth in the dryer. If the stain is not gone, repeat the stain removal steps. If there's no more traces of stain, go ahead and dry the fabric as usual.

    Warning

    Never put a stained garment into the dryer before treating and removing the stain. The high heat will set many stains, making them impossible to remove.

How to Remove Gravy Stains From Carpet or Upholstery

You can use the same techniques and products to treat gravy stains on both carpet and upholstery. However, take care not to over-wet upholstered chair or couch cushions, as this can lead to odor or mildew in the cushion filling.

  1. Lift Away Excess Gravy

    Lift away as much gravy as possible with the edge of a dull knife or spoon. Do not rub, as that could spread the stain even further.

  2. Sprinkle Powder to Absorb Oil

    Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or baking soda to absorb the oil. Use a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush to work the powder slightly into the gravy stain. Be sure to cover the entire affected area.

  3. Leave Powder for at Least 30 Minutes

    Allow the powder to sit on the stain for at least 30 minutes (a couple of hours is even better). Use a vacuum cleaner or hand vacuum to remove the powder from the carpet or upholstery. This may be all that is required to remove the stain. However, if traces of gravy remain, continue to the next step.

  4. Treat Persistent Stains

    In a mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 2 cups hot water. Add 1 tablespoon household ammonia. Blot the solution onto the gravy stain with a clean sponge. Once you see the stain begin to break apart, use a clean white cloth or paper towel to blot the area dry. Continue to alternate applying the cleaning solution and blotting it away until the stain is gone.

  5. Rinse away soapy residue from the treated area with a clean cloth or sponge dipped in plain water. If the cleaning solution is left in the fibers, it will actually attract more soil. After rinsing, allow the area to air dry. Vacuum carpet to lift the fibers.

    Tip

    Don't overly saturate the area, especially if it's upholstery. Just blot with enough clean water to remove any remaining soap residue.

Additional Tips for Handling Gravy Stains

If a gravy stain persists on your clothing, table linen, furniture, or carpets despite your best efforts in following the above guidelines, it's time to call in a professional. Take the stained clothing or table linen to a dry cleaner, or call a carpet cleaning or upholstery cleaning service to your home. Be sure to explain the nature of the stain and let the cleaner know all of the products you've used on the stain so far.