How To Remove Salsa Stains From Clothing

Tomato salsa, close-up
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Salsa, the classic sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, and other seasonings, is a favorite accompaniment to tacos, burritos, and chips. There are many varieties of salsa and it's likely that at some point it will inevitably spill onto your clothing. Removing salsa stains is not difficult and can be done with a few simple steps using household items. 

What You Need to Remove a Salsa Stain

Prior to stain removal, check the label on your clothing. If the materials are particularly delicate like silk or leather, it's best to carefully follow the label directions or have a professional dry cleaner treat the item. Also, do note the specific stain removal items and directions below for white clothing versus colored clothing. Gather the following materials, based on your needs:

  • Spoon or butter knife
  • Cold water
  • Clean sponge
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • White vinegar (optional for white/colorfast clothing)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional for white/colorfast clothing) 
  • Lemon juice (optional for white clothing) 
  • Stain remover
  • Mild dish soap (optional for oily stains) 

How to Remove a Salsa Stain

  1. Remove as much of the excess salsa as possible from the fabric. This includes any chunks of vegetables, seeds, and sauce that can be removed. Use a spoon or the back of a butter knife to gently scrape the surface and remove the salsa. This won't damage your clothing but will allow all the excess to come off.
  2. Run cold water through the back of the stain as quickly as possible. This will force the stain back out through the fabric. Don't run it through the front of the salsa stain, which will only embed the stain more into the fabric. 
  3. Rub a liquid detergent into the stained portion of the fabric. Work the detergent into the stained fabric gently with a clean sponge in a circular motion, beginning on the outside of the salsa stained area and moving toward the center of the stain.
  4. If the garment is white or colorfast, you can apply a mild bleaching agent. Choose between white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or lemon juice applied with a sponge. Remember that these will bleach out colors and patterns. If possible, test the bleaching agent on a small corner or hidden area of the fabric prior to using on the stain. 
  1. Repeat with detergent followed by mild bleaching agent until the stain no longer appearsHold the stain up to the light to make sure all of the salsa is fully gone.
  2. Apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray according to directions. Let the stain remover sit on the fabric for three to five minutes. 
  3. Wash the garment normally with laundry detergent. Before drying, check the stain again. Stains that are dried will usually become permanent.
  4. If the salsa stain still remains, rub detergent into the blemish. Next, soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Rinse well and check for the stain again. 
  5. If, after all these steps, the salsa splotch still remains, apply stain remover stick, gel, or spray and launder according to directions. This final step can help get all traces of the salsa stain out.

Stain Removal Tips

  • If your stain is a combination of oily and wet, treat the oily part first with some mild dish detergent before proceeding with the directions above. This might happen if salsa along with taco meat or another oily substance have both spilled onto your garment. 
  • The faster you can begin the stain removal process, the more likely the stain will be eliminated. Spilled food that has been absorbed into the fabric for a long time is much harder to remove.