How to Remove Honey Stains From Clothes

How to Remove Honey Stains

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Honey, with all of its sweetness, can make quite a sticky mess on your laundry. Treat any honey stains as soon as possible, as waiting to treat a honey stain is a bad idea. If it hardens, it becomes more difficult to remove the sticky stain without damaging the fibers of the clothing. Although it's tempting to grab a napkin and swipe at that stain—don't do it! You will only push the stain further into the fibers of the clothing. And, never put a garment that's still stained with honey into a dryer, as it can set the stain and make it permanent.

The good news is that you can tackle that honey stain with a few household products and items you probably have on hand in your home. Then with a few simple steps, those honey stains can be history.


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

Before You Begin

Check the care label on the honey-stained garment before starting. If the garment is labeled as "dry clean only," carefully lift away as much of the blob as possible with a butter knife. Then get the item into a professional cleaner as soon as possible. Make sure to point out and identify the stain. If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, treat the stain with the provided remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Butter knife
  • Spoon
  • Sponge

Materials

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Stain remover stick, gel, or spray
  • Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

How to Remove Honey Stains From Clothing

Accidents happen, and it never seems to fail that it occurs on a favorite clothing item. So when that blob of honey plops down onto your shirt, be prepared. As you go to remove honey stains remember to work from the outside of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading the stain further. Follow these steps for fresh or dried honey stains, and that piece of clothing will be as good as new.

  1. Remove Solids

    Lift away any excess honey carefully with a butter knife. If it's too hard, or the stain has hardened, don't bother, and move on to step 2.

  2. Flush the Stained Area

    Flush the honey stain with cold water as soon as possible. Cold water will help break down the honey without setting the stain into the fabric. The honey will start to dissolve in the cold water, making it easier to remove the stain. Make sure to flush from the wrong side of the fabric to help keep the honey from embedding further into the fibers. After rinsing for several minutes with cold water, you can try gently scraping off the honey with a spoon or a coarse sponge.

  3. Treat the Stain

    Apply liquid laundry detergent to the stained area, saturating it completely. Let the clothing sit for at least five minutes, then run hot water through the back of the stain over the sink. Make the water as hot as you can to force the honey stain out of the clothing.

  4. Pretreat and Wash

    Apply a stain remover according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wash the garment using the hottest water recommended by the fabric care instructions.

  5. Check the Stained Area

    Check the stained area on the garment. If any of the stain remains, do not dry in the dryer. As an alternative, let the clothing air-dry and recheck it for any hardened or darkened areas. If the stain persists, repeat the steps above.

    Warning

    If any of the honey stain still remains and you dry the clothing in the dryer, the heat from the dryer will set the stain permanently.

Additional Tips for Handling Honey Stains

If the honey stain remains, don't despair as there are a few other solutions you can try.

For white or colorfast garments:

  • Apply a mild bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, or lemon juice to the stain using a soft sponge.
  • Rinse the fabric thoroughly in cold water.
  • Check the stained area and if the honey stain is gone, wash as usual.
  • If not, repeat the steps.

For synthetic fabrics or printed clothing:

  • Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (recommended brands include OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and tepid water following package directions. 
  • Completely submerge the stained garment and allow it to soak for at least four hours or overnight.
  • Check the honey stain and if it is gone, launder as usual.
  • If the stain is not gone, repeat the steps.