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

How to Remove Gravy Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Gravy is great, makes almost any meal better, and can cover up lots of cooking mistakes. Well, it's great except when it drops on your necktie, shirt or best tablecloth and causes a stain! 

Gravy Stains and Washable Fabrics

Most gravy recipes contain some type of fat that causes an oily stain that can usually be easily removed, especially from natural fabrics. First, use a dull knife or spoon or the edge of a credit card to lift off any solid bits from the surface of the fabric. Do not rub the stain with a cloth because that will push the gravy deeper into the fabric making it much harder to remove.

Treat the stained area with a solvent-based stain remover spray or gel such as Zout or Shout. If you don't have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent (Tide or Persil are leading brands that contain enough enzymes to break apart the stains) to treat the stain. Apply the stain remover and scrub the stain lightly with a soft bristled brush. Let the product work for about 15 minutes to dissolve the oily stain before washing. Use the hottest water recommended for the fabric on the care label. Use a good detergent and an all-fabric bleach to remove any discoloration.

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 the fabric is still stained, drying the item on high heat will make the oil even more difficult to remove.

Gravy Stains on Dry Clean Only Fabrics

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 a tie or jacket with a dry cleaning solvent. Always follow product label directions and test the solvent on an inside seam to be sure it will not fade the fabric. 

The best choice for most gravy-stained dry clean only garments is 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.

How to Remove Gravy Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

To remove gravy stains from carpet, lift away as much of the solids from the fibers as possible using a dull knife. Do not rub because it will only push the oily component deeper into the fibers making it more difficult to remove and may even 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 it slightly into the carpet. Allow the powder to sit on the stain for at least 30 minutes (a couple of hours is even better). Use a vacuum to remove the powder. 

If stains remain, blot the stain with a dry cleaning solvent following the product instructions. Use 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. Add one tablespoon household ammonia. Clean the stain with a sponge or soft-bristled brush dipped in the cleaning solution. Use a dry paper towel to blot away the cleaning solution and repeat until the stain is removed. 

Be sure to "rinse" the area with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue. If the cleaning solution is left in the fibers, it will actually attract more soil. After rinsing, allow the area to air dry and then vacuum well to lift the carpet fibers.

The same cleaning techniques and products recommended for carpet can be used to remove gravy 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 mildew to form. 

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