How to Remove Tomato Stains From Carpet

How to Remove Tomato Stains from Carpet

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10-15

Ketchup, pizza and pasta sauces, or slices of fresh tomato can leave very noticeable stains on carpets. Because of the tannins in tomatoes, tomato stains are quick to discolor fibers, especially light-colored ones.

If you act quickly, you can remove the traces of tomato with cleaning supplies you probably have on hand, including dish soap and laundry detergent. Read on for our guide to removing tomato stains on carpet in a few simple steps.

 Stain type   Tannin-based
 Detergent type  Heavy-duty laundry detergent, oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide
 Water temperature  Tepid or cool

Before You Begin

If the tomato stain is on an area rug on a hardwood floor, move the rug to a tarp or washable floor before treating the stain. If the wood floor beneath the rug becomes wet during cleaning, remove the rug completely to allow the floor to dry or dark stains may appear.

The stain removal steps will work on both natural carpet fibers like wool and cotton, as well as synthetic fibers. However, if you have a wool carpet, do not use oxygen-based bleach to remove difficult stains. Use hydrogen peroxide instead.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 to 2 microfiber cloths
  • 1 soft-bristled nylon scrub brush
  • 1 small bowl or bucket
  • 1 vacuum
  • 1 spoon or dull knife


  • 1 container heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
  • 1 container oxygen bleach
  • 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 roll paper towels


How to Remove Tomato Stains From Carpet

  1. Lift the Stain

    Use a dull knife or the edge of a spoon to lift away as much of the tomato stain and any solids as possible from the carpet fibers. Do not rub the stain or use a cloth or sponge because that can push the stain deeper into the fibers. 

  2. Blot the Stain

    Use a wet white paper towel or clean microfiber cloth dipped in clear water to blot the stain. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Keep blotting until no more color is transferred onto the cloth.

  3. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    • In a bowl or small bucket, mix 1 teaspoon of heavy-duty laundry detergent with 2 cups of cool water.
    • Mix well.
    • If you don't have laundry detergent, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid.
  4. Apply the Solution

    • Dip a clean cloth or soft-bristled brush into the solution.
    • Apply directly to the carpet working from the outside edges toward the center.
    • Allow the solution to work for 10 minutes.
    • Rinse the area to remove soapy residue by wiping with a clean cloth dipped in plain water.
    • Do not oversaturate the carpet.
  5. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    • Allow the area to air-dry away from direct heat and avoid walking on that area of the carpet until it is fully dry.
    • Check the area for any traces of the stain.
    • Vacuum to lift any matted fibers.
    • If stains remain, move to the next steps.

How to Remove Tough Tomato Stains on Carpet

If the tomato stain was not treated promptly or if traces of the stain remain after following the cleaning tips, use hydrogen peroxide or oxygen-based bleach to remove discoloration.

  1. Use an Oxygen-Based Bleach Solution

    • In a small bowl or bucket, follow the product label directions to mix a solution of powdered oxygen-based bleach with one cup of cool water.
    • Stir well until the powdered bleach is dissolved.
    • Dip a clean cloth in the solution and sponge it onto the traces of tomato stain remaining on the carpet. Be sure the carpet fibers are thoroughly wet down to the carpet backing.
    • Allow the area to air-dry at for least 8 hours. Do not blot away the solution.
    • Repeat the steps with a fresh batch of the solution, if needed.


    While oxygen-based bleach is safe to use on all colors of carpeting, do not use it on wool carpet fibers. They can become brittle.

  2. Use Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

    Hydrogen peroxide is the chemical compound H2O2, made up of two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms. The 3 percent solution sold in drugstores acts as a mild bleaching agent to remove tomato stains from light-colored carpets.

    • Use a clean cloth to sponge the hydrogen peroxide onto the carpet fibers.
    • Allow the area to air-dry.
    • Repeat, if needed

Additional Tips for Removing Tomato Stains

To ensure you get the best results when removing tomato stains from your carpet, we have a few additional, easy tips.

  • Don't wait. Act quickly to lift away and treat stains.
  • Don't rub. Lift away the tomato solids with a spoon instead of rubbing the stain deeper into the fibers.
  • Don't make the stain larger. Always work from the outside of the stained area toward the center of the stain to prevent it from spreading.

Repeat Method on Upholstery

The same cleaning techniques and products recommended for carpet can be used to remove tomato stains from upholstery. Be careful not to over-wet the fabric because excess moisture in the furniture cushions can cause mildew to form.

Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture. If the upholstery is vintage or silk, lift away the staining matter, sprinkle with cornstarch, and call a professional before attempting to remove the stain.