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

Hot sauce
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Much like barbecue sauce, red or green, a spicy hot sauce is great for adding spice to your fried chicken and waffles, tacos, nachos, and more, but not so much for your shirt, carpet, or couch cushion. 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. Learn how to remove Tabasco or hot pepper sauce with ease.

Stain Type Tannin-based
Detergent Type Stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold

Project Metrics

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

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Before You Begin

Test any detergents or cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

Older stains will be harder to remove. You might need to repeat the cleaning process a couple of times before the stain disappears.

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. It may be hard to tell if the stain is fully gone while the fabric is wet but resist the temptation to dry it.

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.

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

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Water
  • Stain remover or liquid laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)
  • Dishwashing detergent (for carpet or upholstery)

Tools

  • Dull knife, spoon, or plastic scraper (optional)
  • Clean white cloth, napkin, or sponge
  • Water faucet
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional for carpet or upholstery)
  • Vacuum (for carpet or upholstery)

How to Remove Hot Sauce Stains From Clothing

  1. Lift Away or Blot the Stain

    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.

  2. Spot Treat With a Stain Removal Pen

    If you have one handy, treat the stain with a stain removal pen.

  3. Flush With Water

    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.

  4. Blot With Vinegar and Rinse

    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.

  5. Treat With Stain Remover and Wash

    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.

  6. Use Oxygen Bleach, If Necessary

If any stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names like 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. Oxygen-based bleach is safe to use for all washable fabrics, white and colored, except for silk, wool, and anything trimmed with leather.

How to Remove Hot Sauce Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

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

  1. Remove Solids and Blot Away Wetness

    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. 

  2. Make a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of two teaspoons of hand dishwashing liquid, one-fourth cup distilled white vinegar, and two cups cool water.

  3. Treat Stain With Cleaning Solution

    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.

  4. Rinse and Blot Away Cleaning Solution

    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.

  5. Air Dry and Vacuum

Allow the carpet to air dry. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.