How to Remove Turmeric Stains

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Obsessed with Indian dishes and all things curry? You’ll definitely want this information on how to eradicate stubborn turmeric stains from your clothing and your home.

If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’re probably familiar with turmeric. This bright yellow spice, a staple in curry dishes, is a member of the ginger family, and it’s believed to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation in the body and improving brain function. It’s pretty amazing. The only problem? Its intense yellow color can be difficult to remove when it ends up in the wrong place—like your clothing. Don’t panic, no matter how brightly colored that stain is! Just as there are proven ways to remove red wine stains from clothing and coffee stains from your clothing, you can also learn how to remove turmeric stains from your clothing and just about anything else.

What else might dried or fresh turmeric pose a problem for? Honestly, anything that it touches. In addition to clothes, that means dishes, storage containers, countertops, carpet, and furniture. We’ve broken down the steps you need to follow for any type of turmeric-related emergency if you want to reclaim your items and know how to remove stains like this once and for all. Incidentally, turmeric is also what gives mustard its yellow color, so once you learn how to tackle curry-related stains, you should also learn how to get mustard out of your clothes.

Does turmeric stain?

As you may have guessed, the answer is yes. But what you might not realize is that turmeric is so good at binding its color to fabrics that it’s frequently used as a dye. This is due to the intensity of the color and the fact that turmeric contains a small amount of tannin, a natural compound that binds the color to other compounds. (Tannins are also found in grape skins, which is why knowing how to remove red wine stains the right way is essential, too.) Luckily, there are some incredibly effective strategies to combat these stubborn stains. Just make sure to follow the instructions below exactly, depending on what item you’re dealing with, so you don’t accidentally make the problem worse.

How to get turmeric and curry stains out of dishes

Here’s a bit of excellent news: Turmeric stains are very easy to remove from most ceramic dishes. Usually, you can just rinse them off and wash them in the sink or dishwasher as usual, without any extra steps. However, if you’re dealing with a plastic, glass, or glazed ceramic container, that’s a different story and your job will be much more difficult. Because of this, it’s usually best to store curry sauces and turmeric dishes in food-grade stainless steel containers. However, if that isn’t an option or if you’ve already made this mistake and are looking for a solution, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Rinse any remnants of curry powder or sauce from the dish or container.

  2. Soak the affected item in a solution of 2 parts water and 1 part bleach for at least 12 hours. If you prefer something milder or more natural than bleach, use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar instead.

  3. Dump the solution down the drain and rinse thoroughly with water and a little dish soap.

  4. If the stain remains, use a Magic Eraser to scrub the discolored spots.

  5. Rinse again, and then thoroughly wash with your usual dish detergent in the sink or dishwasher.

FYI, here are a few things you should never clean with a Magic Eraser, including marble countertops, which we’ll discuss more below.

How to remove turmeric stains from counters

Cooking can be messy, and if you’re cooking with turmeric, that can be doubly true. If you’ve spilled dried curry or turmeric from your spice jar onto your counter, just brush it into a small bowl. Even freshly spilled wet turmeric stains, like curry sauces, aren’t disastrous. Most of the time, you can get rid of them with a simple wipe from a damp, clean cloth or a sponge. For more stubborn stains, follow the instructions below.

  1. Remove any excess turmeric with a towel or sponge, taking care not to spread it to clean areas of your countertop.

  2. If a yellow stain still remains, check the manufacturing instructions for your countertop to make sure any products used are safe and recommended.

  3. Make a paste of baking soda and water, and spread it over the surface of the stain.

  4. Let the solution sit on the stain for 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. Wipe away the paste and scrub the counter with a clean cloth or sponge. If a faded yellow spot still remains, scrub again with vinegar or a multi-surface cleaner and a Magic Eraser, provided this meets the guidelines for your countertops.

And voilà! The stain should be gone. Unfortunately, countertops can take a beating—and not just from cooking items. Here’s how to remove permanent marker stains from your countertop and any other surface.

how to get turmeric stains out of clothesAlaina DiGiacomo/rd.comHow to remove turmeric stains from clothes

Don’t worry—your shirt isn’t necessarily ruined, especially if you act fast. That’s definitely good news, as is this: Once you learn how to get curry out of clothes, you can apply the same technique to get turmeric or curry stains out of towels, sheets, or other fabrics.

  1. Use a spoon to remove the excess curry or turmeric.
  2. Read the label on your clothing. Some fabrics, such as silk, are delicate and require special care. Always be sure to follow the instructions on the tag. If a garment says dry clean only, don’t press your luck by machine-washing it. Take it to a professional dry cleaner, or use an at-home dry cleaning system like Dryel. You should also perform a spot test before applying stain removers or detergents to delicate fabrics.

  3. Next, remove the affected clothing, and apply a stream of cold water to the back of the garment to rinse away as much of the yellow discoloration as possible. Do not use warm or hot water; the heat will cause the stain to set.

  4. Fill the sink with cold water and add two to three tablespoons of a powerful laundry detergent like Vanish Oxi Action. Immerse the fabric in the mixture, and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

  5. If the stain is still visible, spray it with a liquid stain remover. Place the garment in the washing machine, and launder as usual in cold water with laundry detergent. You can also add a little bit of color-safe bleach. (Chlorine bleach will also work for most white clothing.)

  6. When the laundry is done, allow the item to air-dry, since the heat from the dryer will set any bits of the remaining stain. If the stain still visible after the fabric is dry, take the item to a professional dry cleaner. This is more likely to be necessary if you’re dealing with an old turmeric stain that has already had time to set.

If you’re dining out when the spill happens, removing and laundering your clothes probably won’t be an option. That’s why it’s wise to always carry a portable stain remover, like OxiClean’s On the Go Stain Remover Pen, in your bag. Just follow the instructions on the package to combat stains on the spot. By the way, these products also work wonders if you need to get grass stains or makeup stains out of clothes. If the spilled item is also greasy, you’ll want these other tips on how to get oil stains out of clothes.

How to remove turmeric stains from carpet

Not the carpet! (Yes, the carpet.) It happens, and it’s a lot easier to deal with if you take immediate action. So, without further ado…

  1. If you’ve spilled dry, powdered turmeric on your carpet, vacuum it up with a hose attachment. (This will ensure that you don’t spread it around on the carpet and make the problem worse.) If you’ve spilled a liquid containing turmeric like a curry sauce, use a spoon to remove as much as possible.
  2. Next, use a slightly dampened white towel to blot the stain. Don’t scrub or rub the spot. This will spread the stain and embed it further into the fiber of your carpet.
  3. Cover the stain with a paste of baking soda, water, and a tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Allow it to sit on the carpet for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the excess mixture with a cloth or spoon.
  5. Blot the area with a damp white cloth. Once again, be sure not to rub the stain, and make sure you are always applying a clean part of the cloth to the carpet.
  6. If the stain is still visible, reach for a store-bought stain remover like Spot Shot Professional Carpet Stain Remover and use as instructed.
  7. When finished, blot the area with a dry white cloth to make sure the cloth comes clean and the stain is gone.
  8. Vacuum as usual.

Note: These are the same steps you’ll follow to remove old turmeric stains from carpet. However, the longer a stain has time to set, the harder it will be to remove. If you follow these steps and weren’t able to get the turmeric stain out of your carpet, your next step should be calling a professional carpet cleaner or cleaning service. Next, find out how to get red wine out of carpet.

Sources: 

  • Healthline: “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin”
  • Molly Maid: “How to Remove Turmeric Stains”
  • Food 52: “How to Remove Turmeric Stains from Anything”
  • FloorCareKits: “How To Remove Turmeric Stains From Carpet – 4 Proven Methods”
  • Hunker: “How to Remove Turmeric Stains From 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