How to Remove Ice Cream Stains From Clothes and Carpet

Bowl of ice cream spilled on carpet

Getty Images / Alex Hayden

Ice cream and frozen yogurt are delicious milk-based products that most of us enjoy with relish. But in our excitement, drips and blobs somehow manage to land on our shirts, upholstery, and carpets. Removing the stains is pretty simple if you handle them correctly.

Stain Type Protein-based
Detergent Type High performing liquid detergent
Water Temperature Cold 

Project Metrics

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

  • Working time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1-2.5 hours

Before You Begin

Before you attempt to remove any type of stains, always check the care label of the garment or linen. This will give you information on the type of fabric and washing or dry cleaning instructions.

If the fabric is labeled as dry clean only, take the item to a dry cleaner as soon as possible and point out and identify the stain. 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.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Spoon or dull knife
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Washer or large sink
  • Automatic dryer, clothesline or drying rack

How to Remove Ice Cream Stains From Clothes

  1. Remove Any Excess Ice Cream

    For fresh ice cream stains, start by using a dull knife, the edge of a spoon, or even the edge of a credit card to lift away any blobs off the fabric surface. Never rub fresh ice cream stains or you will push the stain deeper into the fabric making it more difficult to remove. For older ice cream stains or ones that have begun drying, start with the next step.

  2. Pre-Treat the Ice Cream Stain

    Fresh milk-based stains can usually be removed by flushing the stained area first with cold water before washing. These stains contain other ingredients but the protein in the milk needs treatment first. Never use hot water first because it will cook the protein, which makes the stain hard to remove.

    After you have carefully lifted away any fresh solids or used a soft-bristled brush to get rid of any dried solids, flood the stained area with cold water. Simply hold the stained area with the wrong side directly under a running faucet of cold water to flush out the stain.

    For older stains, you can place the entire garment in a sink of cold water. After soaking for at least 30 minutes, scrub the stained area with a soft bristled brush or rub the fabric together to loosen the stain even more. 

  3. Soak the Ice Cream Stain

    Cold water and laundry detergent will work quite well in removing ice cream and yogurt stains, unless the ice cream is topped with or contains lots of berries, chocolate, or artificial dyes.

    Removing Dye-Based Stains

    If you have chosen a treat that has left a colorful stain, there's an extra step you can take to get it out. After the first flush with cold water, submerge in a cool water soak and oxygen bleach solution to remove both the natural and artificial dyes that have worked their way into the fabric.

    To soak the stain, fill a sink with cool water and add the recommended amount of oxygen bleach following package directions. Completely submerge the entire garment or table linen and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes. Check the stain and if it remains, let the item soak one or two hours longer. This treatment is safe for all washable fabrics except silk, wool, or anything with leather trim.

  4. Choose a Cycle and Wash

    After treating with cold water, and soaking the stain if needed, rub just a tiny dab of laundry detergent into the stain. Then wash the garment or stained linen as recommended on the care label in cold or warm water.

  5. Check the Fabric

Before tossing the freshly washed fabric into a dryer, check the stained area. If the stain remains, repeat the stain removal steps. Never place a stained garment in a dryer on high heat because that can make the stain nearly impossible to remove.

If you don't have time to rewash right away, allow the stained fabric to air dry and repeat the process later.

How to Remove Ice Cream Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

If that bowl of frozen goodness ends up on the carpet or couch upholstery, act quickly. Use a spoon to scoop up as much of the ice cream as possible. Start at the outside of the spill and work toward the center to prevent it from spreading farther out. Don't rub with a cloth or you will push the goo deeper into the fibers.

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold water
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Non-sudsing household ammonia

Tools

  • Sponge
  • Paper towels or white cleaning cloths
  • Plastic mixing bowl or bucket
  1. Blot the Ice Cream Stain

    While the stain is fresh, dip a clean white cloth or sponge in cool water and blot the stained area from the outside edges toward the center. This will prevent the stain from growing larger.

    Try not to oversaturate the fibers and move to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. As each section is cleaned, blot away the excess moisture with a clean, dry white cloth or paper towel.

  2. Soak the Stain to Remove Any Discoloration

    If the stain is not coming out, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cool water following package instructions. Saturate the stained area with the solution and allow it to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Rinse and Air Dry

Blot up the solution and "rinse" with plain water by sponging the area. Finally, blot with a clean dry cloth until all of the moisture is gone. Allow the area to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat.

Treating Older Ice Cream Stains

If the ice cream stain has dried or you've waited a few days to treat it, try sponging with a mixture of two teaspoons of non-sudsing household ammonia mixed with one cup of water. If the carpet or upholstery is dark in color, test the mixture in a hidden spot before treating the stain as it may cause colors to fade.

Again, blot with the solution and allow it to work for at least 10 minutes. Finish by sponging the area with plain water to rinse and blot with a dry cloth to remove moisture. Allow the area to air dry.

If the stain persists, treat it once more with the same method above. If the carpet, clothing, or upholstery is vintage or made from silk or wool, remove the ice cream solids and contact a professional cleaner, or see our guide if you need more stain removal tips.