How to Remove Chocolate Stains

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There’s nothing better than enjoying a delicious chocolatey treat…and nothing worse than getting it on your clothing, carpet, or couch. Luckily, these tricks can eradicate even the worst chocolate stains.

Chocolate is a wonderful treat. Not so wonderful? Dropping your ice cream cone in the middle of the living room or accidentally smearing chocolate on your shirt at a restaurant. How can something so delicious be so darned unattractive when it ends up in the wrong place? If you’ve ever found yourself in a sticky situation and wondered how to remove chocolate stains, you’re in luck. It’s easier to get chocolate stains out of clothes, carpet, and furniture than you think. Read on to learn exactly how to remove stains like this so you don’t accidentally set the stain in your beloved item forever. Once you’re up to speed, bookmark this information on how to get coffee stains and red wine stains out of clothes because you’ll definitely need that information at some point, too!

Does chocolate stain?

If you, or someone in your family, just had an unfortunate chocolate-related accident, you may be wondering if chocolate can cause a permanent stain. According to Jennie Varney, brand manager of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, the unfortunate answer is yes. In fact, she says, “chocolate, like coffee or red wine, is one of the more difficult stains to remove from clothing, carpet, and furniture.” This is because chocolate is full of dark tannins, the same stuff that’s responsible for red wine stains. In addition, milk chocolate contains oils, which can be difficult to remove from textiles. But don’t panic: It might be difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible. (The same goes for getting oil stains out of clothes, too, in case you were wondering.)

How to get chocolate out of clothes

Infographic explaining how to remove chocolate from clothingEmma Kumer/rd.com

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As with most stains, the key to removing chocolate from clothes is to act fast. The longer you wait, the more time you’re giving the stain to set, which is a laundry mistake you definitely don’t want to make. Another important thing to remember: Some fabrics require special care. For example, wool or silk pieces might be labeled dry clean only. If this is the case, do not throw them in the washing machine. Instead, take them to the dry cleaner, as directed, or use an at-home dry cleaning kit like Dryel. Also, always perform a spot test to an unseen area before applying any sort of detergent or stain remover to delicate fabrics.

Note: If you’re dealing with an old chocolate stain, follow the same steps, but be aware that it may take longer to remove the stain. Also, if you aren’t successful at home, it may be necessary to take your garment to a professional.

What you’ll need

  • Liquid dishwashing soap or laundry detergent

  • Stain remover

  • Color-safe bleach

Step-by-step directions

  1. First, remove the clothing and shake off any excess chocolate into a garbage can or sink. Do not rub the area at this point or you’ll risk working the chocolate stain further into the fabric.
  2. Rinse the stain in the sink with cold water. Do not use warm or hot water, since heat will set the stain. Let the water flow directly onto the underside or back of the clothing to loosen and remove as much of the chocolate stain as possible.
  3. Cover the surface of the stain with dishwashing liquid or liquid laundry detergent, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Soak the garment in cold water. While it’s immersed, rub together the sides of the stained area of fabric to loosen the stain. Do this as long as necessary until the chocolate stain is removed or until you are no longer making progress.
  5. If the stain hasn’t been removed, apply a stain remover like Oxi Clean Stain Pen to the surface of the stain. Follow the instructions on the packaging, and then launder as usual with color-safe bleach. If the stain has been removed, launder as usual with a little color-safe bleach. Note: If you’re removing chocolate from white clothing, you can use regular bleach if that’s your normal routine.
  6. If the stain still remains after you remove the clothing from the washing machine, do not put it in the dryer or the heat will set the stain. Instead, hang the garment to dry and take it to your dry cleaner.

Need help with other tricky stains? Here’s how to how to remove mustard stains and turmeric stains from clothes, too.

How to get chocolate out of a couch

If your cozy movie night with a chocolatey treat went from Netflix and chill to Netflix and spill, you might need to know how to get chocolate out of a couch. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to do as long as you act quickly and don’t give the stain time to set. Bear in mind that old stains are harder to remove than new stains. If you’re dealing with an old chocolate stain, you’ll likely have to work harder and longer to remove it. Still no success? All is not lost—it’s just time to call a professional upholstery cleaner. But try this first.

What you’ll need

  • Knife and/or vacuum

  • Dish soap

  • Clean toothbrush

  • Clean towel

Step-by-step directions

  1. First, remove any excess chocolate. For dried chocolate crumbs, like bits of a candy bar, use a vacuum. For liquid chocolate, like hot fudge, use a knife or spoon (whichever is easiest).

  2. If the cushion covers are removable, read the tag to see if they are machine washable. If they are, Varney recommends putting them into the washing machine immediately. Add your normal detergent, and be sure to use cold water since warm or hot water might set the stain. Do not place the cover in the dryer unless the tag says it is safe. If unspecified, air-dry the cover, just in case.

  3. If the cushion covers can’t be removed, Varney recommends a homemade stain solution of 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap mixed with 2 cups of lukewarm water.

  4. Use a clean toothbrush to gently dab the surface of the stain with the mixture. Do not rub. Rubbing might work the stain further into the fabric. After each dab, rinse the toothbrush with water and dip it back in the stain remover before returning to the stain. Varney says to repeat this step a few times.

  5. Next, soak up the stain remover with a light-colored cloth or paper towel. Press into the surface, and blot.

  6. Repeat these steps until the stain is no longer visible and the chocolate no longer shows up on your cloth or towel.

how to clean chocolate stains out of carpetAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHow to get chocolate out of carpet

The steps for getting chocolate out of carpet are similar to the steps for removing it from a couch. Once again, you’ll turn to a homemade stain solution. Although household items like white vinegar and baking soda might have some effectiveness against chocolate stains, Varney says liquid dish soap works best. And you’ll want to act right away since you’ll have a higher likelihood of success with a fresh stain. In the case of old stains, you may need to repeat the steps below multiple times. If you aren’t successful in removing it, call a professional carpet cleaner. The expense will be worth it if your carpet can be saved. While you’re at it, check out this other helpful advice that can save you a bundle: how to remove red wine and how to get coffee stains out of carpet.

What you’ll need

  • A vacuum or spoon

  • Dish soap

  • Clean toothbrush

  • Clean towel

Step-by-step directions

  1. First, remove the excess chocolate from your carpet with a vacuum cleaner or a spoon.

  2. Next, make a mixture of 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap and 2 cups lukewarm water.

  3. Apply the mixture to a sponge or light-colored cloth (not the carpet itself), and blot the stained area, rotating frequently to make sure you’re always applying a clean area to the carpet. Don’t rub, since rubbing may work the stain further into your carpet, as well as damage carpet fibers. Repeat as often as necessary.

  4. Use a clean dry cloth to blot the carpet and absorb the stain remover. Once again, be careful not to rub.

  5. Repeat these steps until you can no longer see the stain and the cloth comes clean after blotting.

  6. If you have a carpet shampooer like a SpotBot, Varney says, “shampooing your carpet will ensure any chocolate that has penetrated the fibers is pulled up.”

how to remove chocolate stainsAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHow to remove chocolate from other fabrics

If you need to remove chocolate from other fabrics not mentioned here, most of the time you can follow the same steps detailed in the sections above. Dishwashing liquid and laundry soap are gentle and safe enough to use with a wide variety of textiles. But it’s essential to read the tags or paperwork to make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s guidelines. This is especially important if you’re dealing with specialty fabrics, like a silk couch. When in doubt, call a professional. Next, find out how to get permanent marker stains and how to get nail polish out of just about anything.

Sources:

  • Jennie Varney, brand manager of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company
  • Today: “The right way to remove chocolate stains from your clothes and furniture”
  • The Kitchn: “The Best Way to Get Chocolate Stains out of Anything”

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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