My kids love cherries! But because my girls are young, I remove the pits before serving them, which leaves my cutting boards, laminate countertops, and fingers covered in cherry stains. Also because my girls are young, I inevitably end up with cherry-stained clothing, mouths, dish towels, and more. Cherry stains everywhere!
"Just like red wine and many other berries, cherries contain tannin, a chemical that's often used as an agent for fabric dyes," says Becca Napelbaum, a cleaning expert for Handy. (Read: It's notoriously hard to clean off.) And your first instinct — to rub out that darn spot — is totally wrong! "Never rub the stain, since that will force it deeper into the fabric," Napelbaum says. Well then, how are you supposed to get it clean?!
With quickness, for starters. "The sooner you clean it up, the better!" says Napelbaum.
Cleaning Cherry Stains from Fabric
If you find a cherry spill on fabric, scrape up any cherry bits, then run the stain under a cold faucet, holding the inside of the fabric against the faucet, which will help push the stain out of the fabric.
If the stain is already set, try to break it down before rinsing it: Saturate the spot with a natural acid like lemon juice or vinegar. "These work great because it's a plant-based stain," says Napelbaum. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing (again, from the back).
"Once you've loosened up the stain, rub it with your regular detergent and wash it as you normally would to remove the remainder of the stain," says Napelbaum. Use the hottest temperature appropriate for the fabric, and be sure to check it before you dry it, as a stint in the dryer can set the stain. If the stain is still there, repeat the lemon juice or vinegar process, this time leaving it on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it again. You can even try using a toothbrush to loosen the stain.
Cleaning Cherry Stains from Your Kitchen
Because cherries will stain any porous surface, they can get into your plastic or wood cutting boards, laminate countertops, and grout. If your usual cleaner doesn't remove the stain, try to gently lift it with a paste made of baking soda and water. "Allow it to sit for an hour or so, then gently wipe it off," says Napelbaum. "Just be careful not to rub it, because baking soda is abrasive and can scratch your surface."
Cleaning Cherry Stains from Your Skin
Try lemon juice if the stains won't come off with regular soap-and-water washing: "Dry your hands, squeeze lemon juice into your palms, and rub your hands together until they're totally coated, then rinse with lukewarm water," says Napelbaum.
One Last Solution for Cleaning Cherry Stains
"If all else fails, I resort to nail polish remover!" says Napelbaum. Just test it on a small area first, then apply it sparingly with a clean cloth.