How to Remove Berry Stains from Clothes and Fabric

updated Sep 7, 2022
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baby dress with small berry stains on it
Credit: HalynaRom/Shutterstock

Pardon the pun, but berry stains are berry hard to get out! Turns out, those little fruits are powerful staining agents. Thank goodness I have a tried-and-true cleaning method in the back pocket of my summer cutoffs.

I know it’s not quite berry season just yet, but it’s coming (yay!), and so you might want to read this now and come back to it when the time inevitably comes. Here’s how to remove berry stains from your clothes and fabric.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

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.

First, fill your tea kettle with water and place it on the stovetop or turn it on, if it’s an electric kettle. 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/safest 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 tea kettle 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.

Credit: Cat Meschia

For Stubborn Berry 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.

Credit: Faith Durand

The Quick Fix

What if you can’t act that fast because you’re out at the farmers market? 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!