How to Remove Vitamin and Fish Oil Gelcap Stains From Clothes

fish oil caps
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Vitamin and fish oil gelcaps and other health supplements may be great for our well-being but not for our clothes. If you are guilty of stashing your daily requirements in a pocket to take a bit later—but then forget and they get squished—here's how to remove the stains.

How to Remove Vitamin and Fish Oil Stains From Washable Clothes

Almost all gelcap products contain food dyes that give them their distinctive color. So, the first step is to remove the dye and then deal with any oily stains after the dye is gone. You can use the same dye removal process for white, colored or printed fabrics. Just remember to use oxygen-based bleach, not chlorine bleach!

If at all possible, treat the stains before you accidentally dry the clothes on high heat. The heat will only set the dye stains and make them even harder to remove. Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Oxygen Bleach or Seventh Generation Oxygen Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product to use per gallon of water. Submerge the stained items and allow them to soak for at least eight hours. Check the clothes and if the dye stains are gone, wash as usual. If they remain, mix a fresh batch of oxygen bleach solution and soak for another eight hours, then wash following the care label guidelines.

If there are oily stains from fish oil or another supplement remaining after the dye is gone, treat the stained area with a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide or Persil are leading brands that have enough enzymes to break down the oil) or a stain remover that attacks grease. Rub the detergent into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and let it work for fifteen minutes before washing in the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric. Inspect the stained area before drying and repeat the process if necessary.

If there is an excessively strong odor from the fish oil, add one cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Or, soak the garment in a solution of one-gallon water and one cup of baking soda overnight.

Fish Oil Stains and Dry Clean Only Clothes

When you notice the capsule has burst, blot the area with a white paper towel or cloth. Do not attempt to treat or remove the stain yourself on dry clean only garments. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner 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. Most of these products will not remove a dye stain effectively.

Removing Vitamin and Fish Oil Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Occasionally, a capsule gets dropped and ground into the carpet. When that happens, lift away any solid parts of the capsule from carpet fibers using a dull knife. Do not rub because it will only push the oil deeper into the carpet and make the stain larger.

Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch, baking soda or talcum powder to absorb the oil. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the powder into the carpet. Allow the absorbing powder to sit on the stain for at least fifteen minutes, an hour is better, then vacuum to remove the powder. 

Following the product instructions, blot the stain with a dry cleaning solvent. Use a clean white cloth or paper towel and keep blotting until no more oil is transferred from the carpet to the cloth.

If you do not have a dry cleaning solvent or a carpet cleaning product, mix one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent in two cups of hot water. Add one tablespoon household ammonia. Blot the stain with a sponge or use a soft-bristled brush dipped in the cleaning solution. Absorb the cleaning solution with a dry paper towel until the stain is removed. 

Be sure to "rinse" the area with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue that will attract more soil. Repeat the cleaning steps until no more stain remains. Allow the area to air dry away from direct heat and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

If a gelcap explodes on a couch or chair cushion, use the same cleaning solutions and techniques recommended for carpet. Take care not to over-saturate the fabric because excess moisture in the cushion filling can cause problems.

If the upholstery is vintage or silk, consult a professional upholstery cleaning company for more stain removal tips.