6 Steps to Remove Barbecue Sauce Stains from Clothing

Child eating barbecue wings


Juanmonino / Getty Images

Barbecue sauce has a way of finding its way onto your clothes no matter how careful you are when eating. Whether you transferred it from your fingers or it dripped from a burger, you're going to have to get barbecue sauce stains out of your favorite shirt. Here are six easy steps to remove barbecue sauce stains.

Step 1. Remove the Excess Barbecue Sauce

Using a spoon or the back of a butter knife, gently scoop any barbecue sauce from the fabric. You won't be able to get the stuff that has soaked into the fabric, but any that is pooled on that outside can be removed. This will keep the stain from spreading or affecting other parts of the clothing.

Step 2. Use 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 the way it came. Be sure to use cold water. Hot water can set this stain and make it much more difficult, if not impossible to remove. You can keep running water on it for several minutes or even longer if you feel it is helping and making a difference in fading or removing the stain.

Step 3. Apply Liquid Detergent

Rub a liquid laundry detergent into the stained portion of the fabric. Work it in gently with your fingers. You want both sides to be soaked through. Liquid laundry detergent is excellent at removing the greasy parts of the barbecue sauce that try to cling to the fibers of your clothing. Most laundry detergents will pack a punch needed to soak into the stain. Tide and OxiClean are both highly effective for this. Let this sit for up to 10 minutes before thoroughly rinsing in ​lukewarm or room temperature water. If you don't have liquid laundry detergent, you can substitute a mild dish soap during this step.

Step 4. Bleach Any White Clothing

If the garment is white, or you have tested it for colorfastness, apply a mild bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with a sponge. You can also use lemon juice on white fabrics. Rinse well. If the clothing has a color or a pattern, you'll want to test this method in a hidden area of the clothing. Even mild bleaching agents can remove the color of clothing so skip this step if you are concerned. Rinse clothing thoroughly and repeat the liquid detergent step above for white and colored/patterned clothing. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until no stain remains.

Step 5. Apply a Stain Remover

Apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray of your choice and allow it to sit for at least five minutes before washing clothing normally. Liquid or gel stain sticks may be the best bet to penetrate the fabric fully. Depending on your fabric type, OxiClean's Max Force Gel Stick is a great choice to penetrate through the stain.

You can apply the stain remover to both sides of the fabric to make sure it is fully covered. Be sure to wash the fabric within 15 minutes of applying the stain remover. It's best not to let the stain remover dry on the fabric before washing. Before drying, check to make sure the stain is fully removed. Sometimes only a faint ring near the outside of the stain remains. Examine the stained area closely to make sure there is no hint of the stain. Drying a stain will set it permanently.

Step 6. Soak in Warm Water

If the stain remains, then you must rub liquid laundry detergent or dish soap into the stain and soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Rinse well before washing again normally. Allow the clothing to air dry to make sure the entire stain has been removed. Once no hint of the stain remains the clothing is safe to be normally dried in a clothes dryer.