How to Remove Ketchup Stains from Clothes

Let’s face it, no pantry is complete without a bottle of ketchup. Great with everything, this tomato-based sauce is a firm favorite on dinner tables across the country. However, alongside its ability to enhance mealtimes, ketchup also has a not-so-great superpower, and that is its uncanny ability to ruin clothing.

Whatever you are wearing, you can guarantee it’s going to end up with that tell-tale bright red ketchup stain. While it may be inevitable, the good news is there are ways to remove these stains from clothes.

Here, you’ll discover the best ways to remove ketchup stains with ease.

Things to consider before you get started

Ketchup, like any red stain on clothing, is extremely difficult to remove. Therefore, if you want the best chance of eliminating it, you’re going to need to work fast. Avoid letting the stain set if you can, wiping over it with a damp cloth as soon as possible.

If the stain does set, you can still remove it, you’ll just find it a little more difficult and labor intensive. Ready to get started? Let’s look at some of the best methods for how to remove ketchup stains from clothes…

Removing new ketchup stains from clothes

If you are dealing with a new ketchup stain, you’ll find it a lot easier to remove than an old one. However, it still takes a bit of elbow grease to get it out, alongside a few tools.

What will I need?

To remove new ketchup stains from clothes, you will need:

  • Paper towels
  • A dull knife, fork, or spoon
  • Cold water
  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover 

What do I need to do?

Now that you have the right tools, here’s how to remove that pesky ketchup stain:

Step 1: Blot or scrape the stain

The first step is to remove any excess ketchup by blotting the stain with a paper towel, or scraping the dried ketchup off with a fork, spoon, or dull knife. You’ll want to get as much of the ketchup out now as possible. 

Step 2: Pre-treat it

After you have removed the excess ketchup, it’s time to pre-treat it. Rinse the clothing under the cold-water tap, turn it inside out and rinse again. Now that the stain is wet, you can either apply a little laundry detergent directly onto it, or you can use a specialist fabric stain remover. 

Leave the pre-treatment solution on the clothing for the specified amount of time according to the product’s instructions. 

Step 3: Wash the clothes 

Throw the clothing in the washing machine and wash on the highest heat setting. However, make sure you check the label of the garment you are washing first to ensure it can withstand being washed at a higher temperature. 

Step 4: Repeat if necessary

Once the clothing has been washed, you should notice the stain has disappeared if it was pre-treated properly. However, if a slight stain remains, repeat the steps above until it is completely eliminated.

Removing old ketchup stains from clothes

If you’re dealing with an old ketchup stain, removing it is going to take a little more elbow grease. However, with the right technique you should be able to get your clothes looking as good as new. 

What will I need?

To remove old stains, you’re going to need the following:

  • Cold water
  • Laundry detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Stain remover
  • Bleach (optional)

What do I need to do?


Ready to get rid of that unsightly old ketchup stain for good? Here’s how to do it…

Step 1: Rinse the clothing with cold water

Start by turning the clothing inside out and running it under the cold-water tap. This will help to loosen up the stain. 

Step 2: Pretreat with a laundry detergent

Tamp the stain with a little laundry detergent to pretreat it. Once you have applied the detergent, leave it to sit for a few minutes.

Step 3: Use a sponge to apply white vinegar to the stain

White vinegar is great at eliminating stains. Sponge a little onto the stain, working it into the ketchup. Then, immediately rinse well.

Step 4: Repeat the above steps until the stain has mostly faded

You may find that the stain is still quite visible after following the steps above. If it is, repeat the steps until it has mostly faded.

Step 5: Pretreat with a good stain remover

Now that the stain is barely visible, it’s time to treat it with a stain remover. Follow the instructions on the product and ensure you are using a stain remover suitable for the fabric of your clothing. 

Step 6: Wash the clothing 

Give the clothing a wash and you should find the stain has now fully disappeared. However, if a stubborn stain remains, move on to the next steps.

Step 7: If staining persists, apply more laundry detergent and soak

Use a liquid laundry detergent, applying it to the leftover stain. Leave it to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 8: Wash again, using bleach (optional)

Throw the clothing back in the wash. If suitable, add bleach to the wash to ensure the stain is fully removed. 

These are the easiest methods to follow when you’re looking at how to remove ketchup stains from clothes. In most cases, you should be able to fully eliminate the stain. Remember, the sooner you treat the stain, the easier it will be to remove.

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