How to Get Mustard Out of Clothes

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Mustard belongs on your hot dog, not on your shirt. These expert tricks will eliminate those stubborn yellow stains for good.

Charbroiled hot dogs slathered in mustard are a mainstay of backyard barbecues. Unfortunately, sometimes the mustard slides off your bun and onto your shirt, and unless you’re wearing bright yellow, it doesn’t exactly blend in. The bright yellow color of mustard comes from turmeric, and both turmeric and mustard seeds contain tannins (here’s a guide on how to remove turmeric stains to bookmark for later). These natural dyes are also found in grape skins, and they’re the reason it’s so tricky to get red wine stains out of clothing, as well. Don’t worry—tannins can be removed. It just takes a little expert know-how, and of course, that’s what we’re here for! Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to get mustard out of clothes. Once you’re up to speed, you also want to find out how to get coffee stains out of clothes, just in case.

What you’ll need

  • A white cloth

  • Cold water

  • Heavy-duty laundry soap

  • Color-safe bleach

  • A stain remover

how to get mustard stains out of clothesAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHow to get fresh mustard stains out of clothing

The best way to remove a mustard stain is to act before the stain has time to set. Dried mustard stains are tougher to tackle, so whenever possible, follow these steps as soon as a spill occurs. Knowing how to remove stains like this can be a total game-changer for your wardrobe.

  1. If there’s any excess mustard on your clothing, scrape it away with a spoon.

  2. Next, read the tag on your clothing. If your garment is labeled dry clean only, do not place it in the washing machine. Take it to the dry cleaner or use an at-home dry cleaning system like Dryel. Also, if you’re working with a delicate fabric like silk or cashmere, always perform a spot test in an unseen area before using any stain removers or detergents.

  3. Once you’ve determined that it’s safe to proceed, take off the article of clothing and flush it with cold water from the back, rinsing away as much of the mustard stain as you can. Whatever you do, do not rub the affected area—rubbing or scrubbing the stain may embed the mustard even farther into your fabric. Keep the stream as concentrated as possible to avoid spreading the stain onto other areas of your garment. Also, be sure to use cold water. The heat from warm or hot water may actually set the stain, making it impossible to get out.

  4. Use a white cloth to dab a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent, like Tide Hygienic Clean, onto the stain. Let it sit on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. Return to the sink, and once again, flush the stain with a stream of cold water applied to the back of the garment. Just as in Step 2, be sure to avoid warm or hot water, and don’t rub the fabric.

  6. If the stain still remains, use stain remover, like OxiClean MaxForce, and apply it directly to the surface of the stain. Let it sit on the stain for 5 to 10 minutes, or as directed by the package.

  7. Launder the clothing in the washing machine on the cold cycle with your regular laundry detergent and a little bit of color-safe bleach. If you don’t have color-safe bleach on hand, vinegar is a great natural alternative to bleach and will help get any remaining yellow out of your clothes.

  8. Do not dry the garment in the dryer. If there are any remaining bits of stain, the heat will set them into the fabric. Allow the fabric to air-dry instead.

Tip: If you get mustard on yourself while you’re out in public, removing your clothing probably isn’t an option. But products like Tide To Go Wipes can work their magic on mustard stains as long as they’re fresh. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging, and to be safe, perform a spot test first with delicate fabrics. Failing to do so is one of the biggest laundry mistakes you can make, along with not knowing how to tackle different types of stains. To that end, here’s how to get oil stains out of clothing.

How to remove dried mustard stains from clothing

Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. In such cases, it might not be possible to treat mustard stains while they’re fresh. In that case, you’ll want to follow these directions, which are similar to the ones above but require a little extra work.

  1. Use a spoon to scrape away any dried bits of excess mustard.

  2. Read the care instructions on your clothing tag. If your garment is labeled dry clean only, take it to your local dry cleaner or use an at-home dry clean system as mentioned above. It is also wise to perform a spot test on delicate clothing like silk before applying any kind of detergent or stain remover.

  3. Remove the clothing and place it in the sink. Apply a stream of cold water to the back of the stain to rinse it away. Do not use warm or hot water.

  4. Dab heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent on the surface of the stain with a white cloth. Let it sit for an hour.

  5. Take the clothing back to the sink and rinse it from the back again.

  6. If the stain is still visible, apply a laundry stain remover to the surface. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rub the sides of the fabric back and forth. If the stain has set into the fabric, this may help loosen it.

  7. Machine-wash the clothing as usual with cold water, your regular laundry detergent, and color-safe bleach.

  8. Air-dry the garment since the heat from the dryer will cause any stain that remains to set.

All set? Not so fast. Next, find out how to remove chocolate stains from your clothing, furniture, and carpet.

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Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane