The Best Way to Remove Berry Stains

(Image credit: Linda Xiao)

If you’re anything like me, you just can’t wait until you get home from the farmers market to taste your wares. Fresh-picked berries, in particular, are my weakness. Those plump little nuggets of sweet juiciness are irresistible — right up until, uh-oh, it pops right onto my summer tank top instead. Or I fumble it right down the front of my tank and onto my white eyelet skirt!

Berry stains are, pardon the pun, berry hard to get out! Those little guys are powerful staining agents. Thank goodness I have this tried-and-true method in the back pocket of my summer cutoffs.

The Boiling Water Flush

The best way to remove berry stains is what I call the boiling water flush. It takes some time and coordination, but the results are well worth the effort. It’s worth noting too that the faster you can get to that stain, the better — so your cute tank or skirt will be ready to roll by mixed berry sangria time.

First, fill your teakettle with water and place it on the stovetop. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, gently blot the berry stain with a clean cloth. Don’t rub or press too hard into the fabric; you don’t want the stain going deeper than it already is!

Next, turn your garment inside out — you want to flush from the inside out so the stain goes out of the fabric, not deeper into it — and pull it taut over a large bowl. It’s easiest if you can get a rubber band around the bowl to hold the garment in place.

Place the bowl in the sink and, once the water is boiling, hold the teakettle as high above the sink as possible and flush the stain with a constant stream of boiling water. Continue to flush until the stain is no longer visible. Then, simply hang it outside in the bright sunlight while you catch a few rays yourself.

For Stubborn Stains

Sometimes, those berry stains are persistent and don’t want to leave. If that’s the case, soak the stain in a bowl of vinegar after you’ve flushed it with boiling water. Let it soak a good hour or so, then rinse and hang outside to dry. The sun will help lift the stain and get rid of the vinegar smell.

Stain still there? Don’t toss the tank yet! If that stain won’t budge after you’ve flushed in boiling water, soaked in vinegar, and hung in the sun, it’s time to resort to whitening toothpaste — and not just to make your pearly whites shine while you grin and bear it.

Rinse your garment in cool water, then gently massage non-gel whitening toothpaste. Massage the paste into the stain with your fingers, pressing more than rubbing. Rinse, and guess what? You got it: Hang in the sun to dry.

The Quick Fix

What if you can’t act that fast or you’re too busy enjoying the samples at farmers market to rush home and boil some water? No worries! Grab a lemon from the farm stand, cut it in half, squeeze some juice directly onto the stain, then rub it in with the cut lemon. Again, expose as much of the spot in the sun as possible — without exposing too much of yourself, of course!

Do you have any tips for removing berry stains? Share in the comments!