Whether you like it smooth or extra crunchy, spread thick on a sandwich or smeared over celery, peanut butter is a tasty and healthy—and very popular—mainstay of the American diet. However, drop peanut butter onto your clothing, couch, or carpet, and if not treated promptly, it can create an oily stain that's hard to remove.
Luckily, however, if you take quick action, it's fairly easy to remove the mark before the stain sets in, and it doesn't take any special ingredients, either. Here's how to remove peanut butter stains from washable fabrics, carpet, and upholstery.
|Water temperature||Hottest safe for fabric|
|Cycle type||Varies depending on fabric|
Before You Begin
Note that if the peanut butter stain is on dry-clean-only clothing, vintage upholstery, or a delicate fabric like silk, it's best to leave the treatment to a professional dry cleaner or upholstery specialist. Be sure to let them know the stain is from peanut butter.
Equipment / Tools
- Dull knife or spoon
- Clean rags or paper towels
- Old toothbrush or soft brush (Optional)
- Washing machine
Carpet and Upholstery
- Dull knife or spoon
- Mixing bowl
- Clean rags, sponge, or paper towels
- Vacuum cleaner
- Laundry stain pre-treatment spray or gel
- Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Carpet and Upholstery
- Laundry detergent
- White vinegar
How to Remove Peanut Butter Stains From Clothes
Remove Peanut Butter Solids
Scrape away as much peanut butter as possible with a dull knife or the edge of a spoon. Try not to smear the peanut butter beyond the original spot, and do not rub too hard, which can damage fabric fibers and push the peanut oils further into the fabric.
Apply Laundry Stain Pre-Treatment
Treat the stained area with a solvent-based laundry stain remover like Zout, Shout, or Spray 'n Wash. If you don't have a stain remover on hand, use a bit of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent such as Tide or Persil to treat the stain. These detergents contain enough enzymes to break apart the oily component of peanut butter and surfactants to lift it away.
Rub Stain Remover Into Fabric
Rub the stain remover into the stain with your fingers or a soft bristled brush; an old toothbrush works well. Work from the outer edge of the stain towards the center to avoid spreading the peanut oil. Allow the stain remover or detergent to sit on the fabric for at least 15 minutes to begin dissolving the oily stain.
Wash the Garment
Wash the stained garment in the hottest water recommended for the fabric on the care label. Check the stained area before drying. If the stain is still there, repeat the steps above. Stubborn stains, or those that have dried, can require two or three treatments for full removal.
If the stain is gone, go ahead and put the garment into the dryer on its recommended temperature setting.
If there is still a stain, drying the item on high heat will make the oil even more difficult to remove.
How to Remove Peanut Butter Stains From Carpet or Upholstery
Remove Excess Peanut Butter
Remove as much peanut butter as possible from the carpet or upholstery by scraping gently with a dull knife or the edge of a spoon. Be careful not to smear the peanut butter further into the fabric fibers.
Mix Cleaning Solution
Mix a solution of 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent, and 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar in a large mixing bowl.
Blot the Stain With Cleaning Solution
Dip a clean white cloth, paper towel, or sponge into the solution and wring out excess moisture. Working from the outside edge of the stain towards the center, begin removing the peanut butter oils by blotting—not scrubbing—the wet cloth onto the mark. Keep rotating your cleaning cloth as the stain lifts so you don't spread oil back into the cleaned area.
Rinse Treated Area
Rinse the area once the stain is lifted by dipping another clean cloth or sponge into plain water and then wiping the treated spot to remove soap residue. Leaving soap on carpet or upholstery can actually attract more soil.
Don't overly saturate upholstery during this step. Use just enough water to remove any soap residue without drenching the fabric.
Let the Area Air Dry
Allow the treated area to air dry with no direct heat. Vacuum to lift and restore carpet fibers.
Additional Tips for Handling Peanut Butter Stains
The best way to tackle a peanut butter stain is to prevent it in the first place. Have children enjoy their treat over a plate, and take care when lifting foods laden in peanut butter so that none of the oily spread plops out onto your clothing or the floor.
But if an accident happens, and your best efforts with the above steps don't fully remove the mark, it's time for professional assistance. Take the stained garment to a dry cleaner, or call for a carpet-cleaning or upholstery-cleaning service. Be sure to let them know the nature of the stain, as well as all of the steps you've already taken to try and remove it.