How to Remove Salsa Stains From Clothing

How to Remove Salsa Stains From Clothing

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Salsa, the classic sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, and other seasonings, is a favorite accompaniment to tacos, burritos, and chips. There are several varieties of salsa, and it's likely that at some point, it will inevitably spill onto your clothing.

That blob of salsa should be removed as soon as possible, being careful not to rub or scrub as that will push the stain further into the fibers of the material. Stains that are older will be harder to remove so it's best to tackle them sooner rather than later. Do not put the clothing into the dryer until all the stain is gone, as the heat from the dryer can set the stain in, making it harder to get it out.

Fortunately, removing salsa stains is not difficult and can be done with a few simple steps using household items. 

Stain type  Tannin-based
Detergent type  Heavy-duty
Water temperature  Cold
Cycle type   Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

Prior to removing that stain, check the care label on your clothing. If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, remove any solids and blot gently 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.

For materials that 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.

If it's washable, you should test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous spot on the piece of clothing first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric. Note there are specific stain removal items and directions below for white clothing versus colored clothing.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 spoon or butter knife
  • 1 clean sponge


  • 1 bottle of liquid laundry detergent
  • 1 bottle of white vinegar (optional)
  • 1 bag of oxygen whitener (optional)
  • 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide (optional for white/colorfast clothing)
  • 1 cup lemon juice (optional for white clothing)
  • 1 bottle of mild dish soap (optional for oily stains)
  • 1 bottle of stain remover


materials for removing salsa stains
The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

How to Remove a Salsa Stain From Clothing

  1. Remove Excess Salsa

    Gently scrape the surface with a spoon or the back of a butter knife to 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. This won't damage your clothing but will allow all the excess to come off.

    removing excess salsa with a spoon
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  2. Run Garment Under Cold Water

    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 water through the front of the salsa stain, as it will only embed the stain more into the fabric. 

    running the salsa stain under cold water
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Rub With Detergent

    • 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.
    rubbing liquid detergent into the stain
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  4. Use a Mild Bleaching Agent for White Clothes

    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. 

    using a sponge to apply peroxide to the stain
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  5. Ensure Stain Is Gone

    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.

    rinsing the garment with detergent
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  6. Apply Stain Remover

    Apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray according to directions. Let the stain remover sit on the fabric for three to five minutes. 

    using a stain stick on a salsa stain
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  7. Launder the Garment

    Wash the garment normally with laundry detergent. Before drying, check the stain again. Stains that are dried will usually become permanent. If the stain is still there, go to the next step.

    laundering the stained garment as normal
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  8. Repeat If Necessary

    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. 

    soaking the garment
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  9. Try a Stain Stick One More Time

    If, after all these steps, the salsa spot 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.

    using a stain stick on the fabric if the stain still remains
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Additional Tips for Handling a Salsa Stain

  • 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.