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How to Remove Tomato Stains (Even Set-in Sauce)

Jennifer L. Betts
Shirt with Ketchup Sauce

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

How to Remove Tomato Stains

When it comes to removing tomato stains, you need the right tools. Before trying any of the methods below, make sure you have these ingredients at hand.

  • Baking soda

  • White vinegar

  • Dawn dish soap

  • Spoon

  • Clean towel

  • Toothbrush

  • Laundry detergent

  • Ice

  • Toothbrush

  • Saddle soap

  • Sponge

  • Bleach or hydrogen peroxide

How to Remove Fresh Tomato Stains

Everyone has dropped a bit of fresh salsa or squirted a bit of tomato juice on their shirt, but getting fresh tomato stains out isn't as hard as you think.

  1. Rinse the stain with cold water.

  2. Wet a cloth and apply a drop of Dawn.

  3. Dab at the area with the cloth.

  4. Work the Dawn around with your fingers.

  5. Rinse and launder as normal.

  6. Hang to dry and check for remaining stain (drying in a dryer will set any remaining stain).

  7. Repeat if the stain remains after the clothing dries.

remove fresh tomato stain

How to Remove Set-in Tomato Stains

Set-in stains pose a bit more difficulty for tomato stains, but they aren't impossible to remove. When it comes to set-in tomato stains, you want to grab the laundry detergent, vinegar, and ice.

  1. Run cold water through the back of the stained area. (You are trying to push the stain out of the fabric.)

  2. Add a bit of laundry detergent to the area.

  3. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

  4. Rub the ice cube over the stain for a minute or so.

  5. Blot with a white cloth.

  6. For any remaining stain, spray it with vinegar.

  7. Blot the area with a clean white cloth until the rest of the stain is gone.

  8. Launder as normal.

  9. Hang to dry and repeat as needed.

How to Remove Tomato Sauce Stains From Clothes

Knowing how to get tomato sauce stains out of clothes can be life saving, especially if you are prone to dropping spaghetti down your front. To make sure that tomato sauce stain doesn't remain on your favorite shirt, act quickly.

  1. Take the spoon and scrap the tomato sauce off the clothing. Never rub it because this can make it seep deeper in.

  2. 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 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.

  6. Put a drop of Dawn on the stain and work it in with your fingers until the stain isn't visible.

  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.

Tomato stain on white cloth

Will Bleach Remove Tomato Stains?

Bleach does work to remove tomato stains for white clothes after pre-treating the stain. To use bleach, add the recommended amount of bleach to the wash. This will help to fight any remaining tomato particles. Additionally, if you aren't a fan of bleach, you can substitute hydrogen peroxide for bleach in the wash.

How to Remove Tomato Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

You watch in horror as your plate of spaghetti with homemade sauce falls on your off-white rug, and now you need to know how to get tomato stains out of carpet. 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. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

  9. Blot with the towel.

  10. Repeat until the stain completely disappears.

Tomato stains on carpet

How to Remove Tomato Stains From Counters

Learn how to remove tomato stains from counters. Why? Because tomato sauce isn't only a nightmare for your clothing and carpet, it can be a killer for your countertops too. When cleaning your countertops, be as gentle as possible to avoid hurting your seal. Therefore, you'll want to start with the least aggressive method and escalate 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

How to Get Tomato Stains Out of Plastic

Tomato stained plastic containers can be an eyesore. Learn how to get tomato stains out of your plastic containers in a few simple steps.

  1. Mix baking soda and water to make a thick paste.

  2. Use a toothbrush or your fingers to apply the paste all over the entire container.

  3. Allow the paste to sit in the containers overnight.

  4. Wash them as normal.

How to Remove Tomato Stain From Leather

If you accidentally spill tomato sauce on your leather sofa or jacket, follow these steps for getting rid of it rather than panicking.

  1. Use a cloth or spoon to remove as much tomato juice or sauce as possible.

  2. Mix cold water with a few drops of Dawn.

  3. Agitate to create suds.

  4. Grab the suds with a sponge.

  5. Use the suds to scrub the stain.

  6. Wipe with a lightly damp cloth.

  7. Dry with a cloth.

  8. Condition with a little saddle soap.

Why Does Tomato Stain?

Tomato stains because tomato seeds contain tannins, which are a natural fabric dye. Therefore, that tomato paste on your shirt actually dyes the fabric. Another problem with most tomato stains is that they come from the 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 and a few materials.

Remove 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 (Even Set-in Sauce)