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How to Remove Tomato Stains

Jennifer L. Betts
Shirt with Ketchup Sauce

Watching your child eat spaghetti in their white onesie can make you cringe. You might think that garment might be destined for the trash, but with a bit of elbow grease and the right tools, nothing is impossible. Dive into to how you can remove tomato-based stains like spaghetti sauce and salsa from clothes, carpets, and countertops.

Difficulty of Removing Tomato Stains

If you eat a raw tomato and squirt a little juice on yourself, you'll want to rinse the area and add a bit of spot treater. However, with cooked tomato or the dreaded tomato sauce, you are entering a whole new battle ground. Tomato seeds contain tannins, which are a natural fabric dye. Therefore, that tomato paste on your shirt will actually dye the fabric. Another problem with most tomato stains is that they come from tomato sauce. Tomato sauces contain oil. So, you not only have to work with the tannins in the tomato seeds, but you have to try to get the oily, oil out of your fabric. This will take a one-two punch and quick thinking on your part.

Getting Tomato Stains Out of Clothes

Dropping spaghetti down the front of you isn't just embarrassing, it can be disastrous to your wardrobe. To make sure that stain doesn't remain on your favorite shirt, you're going to want to act fast.


Before you knock that stain off your shirt, you'll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Spoon
  • Clean towel
  • Toothbrush


Once you have your tomato blasting materials at the ready, you'll want to grab your clothing and follow these steps. For tomato-based stains that have no oil like salsa, you do not need to do the baking soda steps. Go from step 1 to step 5.

  1. Take the spoon and scrap the tomato off the clothing. Never rub it because this can make it seep deeper in.
  2. For oil-based stains or those that have set in, you'll mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste.
  3. Put the paste on the stain.
  4. Use the toothbrush to rub it for a about a minute, allow it to sit for up to 30 minutes.
  5. Rinse the back of the stain flushing it with cold water for about a minute.
    • Stop here if the stain is gone; if you have an oil-based stain, continue to the next step.
  6. Put a drop of Dawn on the stain and work it in with your fingers until the stain isn't visual.
  7. Wash as usual based on tag recommendations.
  8. Allow the clothing to hang dry (drying in a dryer will set any remaining stain).
  9. Repeat until the stain is completely gone.

For white clothes with a tomato stain, you might also add a cup of hydrogen peroxide or the recommended amount of bleach to the wash. This will help to fight any remaining tomato particles.

Tomato stain on white cloth

Removing Tomato Stains From Carpets

You watch in horror as your plate of spaghetti with homemade sauce falls on your off-white rug. Rather than cry in despair, grab the Dawn and white vinegar. With your materials at the ready, follow these steps to get that stain out of your carpet.

  1. Use a clean cloth to scoop up as much of the tomato as you can.
  2. Blot at the stain with a wet clean towel trying to absorb as much as you can.
  3. Repeat with a clean area of the wet towel until you can't absorb any more stain.
  4. Wet a clean towel and add a few drops of Dawn.
  5. Rub the stained area.
  6. Keep using a new part of the towel and adding more dish soap as the towel absorbs the stain. If the stain is gone, you may stop here.
  7. Use a towel or spray bottle to put straight white vinegar on what remains of the stain.
  8. Blot with the towel.
  9. Repeat until the stain completely disappears.
Tomato stains on carpet

Baking Soda for Tomato Stains on Counters

Tomato sauce isn't only a nightmare for your clothing and carpet, it can be a killer for your countertops too.


Don't let that tomato sauce your kids didn't clean up ruin your day. Instead, grab a few quick cleaners from your bathroom and pantry.

  • Baking soda
  • Peroxide
  • Sponge
  • Dish towel
  • Dawn dish soap


When you are cleaning your countertops, you want to be as gentle as possible to avoid hurting your seal. Therefore, you'll want to start with the least aggressive method and move down if the stain is stubborn.

  1. Wet the sponge and add a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Allow the mixture to stay on the countertop for up to five minutes.
  3. Wipe away.
  4. If the stain still persists, mix peroxide with enough baking soda to make a thick paste.
  5. Apply the paste over the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. For particularly stubborn stains, you might let it sit overnight.
  6. Wipe the mixture away.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
baking soda on counter

Tough Tomato Stains

Tomato-based stains can be tough. This is especially true when you talk about tomato products like spaghetti sauce, which contains oil and tannins. With a bit of quick thinking and some easy to find home products, you can make that tomato stain a thing of the past.

How to Remove Tomato Stains