How to Remove Hot Sauce Stains from Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Hot sauce
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Red or green, a spicy hot sauce is great for adding spice to your fried chicken and waffles and other foods, but not so much for your shirt, carpet, or couch cushion. Learn how to remove Tabasco or hot pepper sauce stains easily.

Hot Sauce Stains and Washable Clothes

Most hot sauce formulas consist of peppers, spices, and vinegar. Unless a significant amount of artificial food coloring has been added, the stains are usually simple to remove.

If there are solids in the hot sauce, use the edge of a dull knife, spoon, or edge of a credit card to lift the sauce from the surface of the fabric. Do not rub because that pushes the stain deeper into the fabric. For liquid sauces, blot the stain with a white cloth or napkin. If nothing else is around, use a slice of plain white bread to absorb the liquid.

If you have one handy, treat the stain with a stain removal pen. As soon as possible, flush the stain from the fabric with cold water. It is best to hold the shirt or tablecloth with the wrong side of the stain directly under a running faucet and let the force of the water do its work to force the stain out of the fabric fibers. Next dip a sponge or clean white cloth in distilled white vinegar. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, sponge the stain and then rinse well. Repeat until no more of the stain is transferred from the fabric to the sponge or cloth.

Finally, treat with a stain remover spray or gel like Zout or Shout or a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide or Persil are rated as the best brands with enough enzymes to break apart stain molecules) and then launder as recommended on the care label.

Before placing the stained garment in a hot dryer, check to be sure the stain is removed. High heat may set the stain permanently and make it difficult to remove.

If any stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and tepid water. Submerge the entire garment. Allow it to soak for at least four hours or overnight and then launder as usual. This is safe to use for all washable fabrics, white and colored, except for silk, wool, and anything trimmed with leather.

Dry Clean Only Clothes and Hot Sauce Stains

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, remove any solids and blot with a clean white cloth. Do not rub because that will make the stain harder to remove. 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 Hot Sauce Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

If the sauce hits the carpet, scoop up any solids with a dull knife or spoon. Blot, never rub liquid hot sauce stains with a white cloth or paper towel. Work from the outside edge to prevent the stain from getting larger. 

Mix a solution of two teaspoons of hand dishwashing liquid, one-fourth cup distilled white vinegar, and two cups cool water. Dip a sponge, white cloth or soft-bristled brush in the solution. Start at the outside edge of the stain and work the cleaning solution into the stained area. Blot with a clean white cloth or paper towel to transfer the stain out of the carpet. Keep moving to a clean, dry area of the cloth until no more stain is transferred.

Dip a clean white cloth into some plain water to rinse the area. It is particularly important to rinse away any cleaning solution that can actually attract soil to the area. Blot until no more soapy residue remains. Allow the carpet to air dry. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.

The same cleaning solution and care steps can be used to remove hot sauce stains from upholstery. Just take care to not over-wet the fabric because it can cause mildew and mold problems with the stuffing in the cushions.

If the upholstery fabric is silk or vintage, consult a professional before attempting to remove the stain.