Are Clothes Affected by Food Coloring? Update 06/2022

Have you ever found it difficult to eat a frosted cake on one of those flimsy paper party plates? In front of the entire party, I once turned the entire slice of cake icing-side down onto my frock! I got through that humiliating moment, but my dress was covered with icing, and I had to wonder if food coloring stains garments.
Although food coloring stains clothes, there are numerous methods that can be used to remove the stain before it becomes permanent. Fabric can be lifted with household chemicals like vinegar, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol. Food coloring stains can be removed by soaking affected garments in oxygen bleach.
Learn how food coloring works and how to make it permanent in fabric in this article. There are also five simple stain removal procedures included. Finally, you’ll learn how to remove food colours from non-washable garments.

Does Food Coloring Stain Clothes

Does Food Coloring Stain Clothes?

Because food coloring is meant to transmit highly condensed color easily, it will nearly always stain your clothes on contact. Different types of textile, however, react to these coloring compounds in different ways. Synthetics such as polyester, for example, are more stain resistant than natural textiles such as cotton.
The majority of artificial food dyes are made out of petroleum-based synthetics and a range of condensed coloring ingredients. These include everything from ground insects to microorganisms, as well as plant-based hues like indigo.
When the first synthetic (man-made) food colours hit the market, they were manufactured with a substance called coal tar as a base! They now have a petroleum-based oil base.
You might find this revolting. In fact, scientists and health professionals have been debating the safety of various types of food coloring for the past fifty years or so. Despite this, manufacturers and consumers continue to be enamored with the bright, appealing hue that these synthetic dyes provide.
You may acquire or make your own all-natural additions by using turmeric to give it a yellow tint or beets to give it a pinkish hue. Store-bought food coloring, on the other hand, is virtually always artificial and usually comes in the form of a liquid, gel, or powder.
This food ingredient is technically an acid dye. These dyes include an acid in their chemical structure but do not exhibit caustic characteristics. In the case of food colorings, you can even eat them! Acid dyes are used by textile designers to color protein-based fabrics like wool, silk, and feathers.

Is Food Coloring Permanent On Fabric?

Is food coloring washable

Fabric will be stained by food coloring, but it may usually be washed away. Cotton and most synthetic materials will not be permanently dyed. Certain animal fibers, such as wool or silk, can be made colorfast with the right treatment.
To make acid dye colorfast and washable, mix powdered dye with very hot water and white vinegar in a dye bath. The color is able to connect with the proteins in protein fiber composites because of these ingredients.
Even if your kid spilled red Jell-o all over your favorite wool sweater, the color should not set permanently assuming you have not boiled your ruined item in water and white vinegar. To remove the food colour from the material, simply follow the methods below.
Of course, like with any stain, the best assurance for successful removal is to act quickly! It may take some effort and elbow grease to remove old food coloring stains. Fresh stains are considerably easier to remove!

How to Get Food Coloring Out of Clothes: 5 Easy Methods

How to get food coloring out of clothes

Let’s get down to business with the five simple and safe methods for removing food coloring off clothing. Most of these typical household items are likely present in your home. If not, the majority of them are around $5 at your local Walmart or grocery shop.
This means you can just choose the way that appears to be the most convenient and get rid of that bright stain!
If you prepare all of the necessary supplies and gather them in a splash-safe work space such as your kitchen or bathroom, the process will be a breeze.
Please keep in mind that some of these techniques work best with specific types of fabric. If you’re unsure, try a few drops of a cleaning agent on an inconspicuous region of your garment to ensure the fabric doesn’t respond negatively.


If you follow these pretreatment suggestions, all of the five procedures discussed here will work best.
To begin, wipe or scrape any remaining liquid or particles from your clothing. Before you can see the stain, you must first remove any food or dried-on crud.
If you have a blob of neon green cake icing on your white blouse, for example, delicately lift the blob away with a knife. Before you begin, soak up as much moisture as possible with a paper towel or clean white rag if your child spilled Hawaiian punch all over his nicest outfit.
When dealing with a wet stain, instead of rubbing it, consider blotting it or dabbing it with a cloth. Rubing at a stain will only smear it into a bigger, more disorderly mess.
Second, for serious or older stains, consider utilizing an enzyme-based stain remover designed to breakdown the stain. You will save a lot of time and effort if you apply the remover and wait fifteen minutes.
Finally, for all food coloring stains, turn your clothing inside out and pour cold water through the stain from the back of the fabric. Color will slip out from the fabric rather of being swished deeper into the strands as a result of this.

1. Vinegar and Dishwashing Soap

does food dye stain

Vinegar works wonders when it comes to removing stains from clothing. It will almost certainly remove the last traces of stains from clothing with the addition of a little dishwashing detergent for good measure.
1. Dampen a clean white cloth or a strong paper towel and place it over the stain. It’s important to press firmly but not to rub!
2. Examine your paper towel to see if any color has bled through. If it did, repeat the process with a fresh towel or rag until the color has faded completely.
3. Pour one cup of cold water, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent into a shallow dish, such as a baking tray. To combine everything, swish it around with your fingers.
4. Completely submerge the stained area in this mixture and set aside for fifteen minutes.
5. Remove the clothing from the solution and wash it under cold water. Hold the stained region so that the water runs from the rear to the front of the fabric.
6. Finally, examine the garment under a bright light to check if any stains remain.
If you’re satisfied with the colorless garment, toss it in the washing machine. If not, soak in vinegar again.
Vinegar’s natural acidity aids in the removal of a wide range of stains. This is very effective on stains that are acidic in nature, such as perspiration or food dyes!
Plus, most fabrics won’t be harmed if you use vinegar on them.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

how to remove food coloring from clothing

In case you have any cuts or scrapes that require disinfecting, you probably have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to whiten teeth, sanitize sponges, and erase stains!
Please be aware that hydrogen peroxide might stain black garments. Before using this product as a stain remover, test it in a hidden part of your garment.
1. Blot any still-damp stains thoroughly with a clean cloth. Rep the blotting process until no color is smeared onto your clean white cloth or paper towel.
2. Combine a cup of cool water, a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, and a teaspoon of dishwashing soap in a shallow dish such as a baking tray or pie plate.
3. Soak the affected area in this solution for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the severity of the stain.
4. Rinse the discoloured area under running water as soon as possible. Make sure the material is turned over so the water passes through the stain from the back.
5. Look closely at the injured area to determine whether any stains remain. If everything appears to be in order, toss the clothing in the washing machine with your regular detergent!
6. If any color remains after soaking, repeat the process.
The capacity of hydrogen peroxide to oxidize and break down the color chlorophyll in stains is fascinating. Because oxygen bleach includes a high amount of hydrogen peroxide, it has the potential to discolor various materials.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

food coloring stain removal

Another useful natural stain remover is rubbing alcohol, which is usually kept about the house! You know how readily rubbing alcohol dissolves and moves through color if you’ve ever produced a fun tie-dye craft with sharpies and rubbing alcohol to spread the ink into fun patterns.
1. Remove as much color as possible with a damp cloth or paper towel before using this approach.
2. Get a liquid measuring cup out if the stain remains. Combine two teaspoons of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water, and a little spritz of dishwashing detergent in a small mixing bowl.
3. Give it a quick stir to dissolve the dish soap.
4. Soak a clean sponge in your solution for a few minutes. Clean the soiled area with the damp sponge in a cautious blotting motion.
5. Rinse the garment from the back of the stain under running water. Don’t be hesitant to rinse the stain under running water for a minute or so, as this will complete the cleaning process and remove any lingering color.
6. Examine the area to see if the stain has vanished.
7. If this is the case, wash your clothes as usual!
Aside from its general effectiveness, this procedure has the advantage of applying the cleaning solution to a sponge rather than directly to the clothes. This provides you a little more control over the stain removal process and reduces the chance of damaging the fabric of your clothes.

4. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen Bleach

Because bleach can destroy certain types of fibers, you may be hesitant to use it on your beloved garments. Bleach should never be used on silk or wool, for instance. Most fabrics, on the other hand, may withstand carefully diluted oxygen bleach without harm.
Chlorine bleach, on the other hand, is significantly more powerful and can damage some types of fabric. Chlorine bleach can harm synthetics like polyester and eat through other textiles over time, including denim! As a result, you should instead use oxygen bleach.
Before attempting this approach, test a drop of the bleach and water solution on a hidden corner of your garments.
Before using bleach, take additional measures such as working in a well-ventilated area, wearing rubber gloves, and laying down plastic garbage bags as splash protection.
1. Prepare a large bucket, basin, sink, or bathtub that you will not be using for the next ten hours. Fill it halfway with hot water.
2. Liquid or powdered oxygen bleach can be used. To figure out how much to measure based on the number of gallons of water you used, read the packaging.
3. Before adding your stained garment, let the bleach dissolve. To fully immerse the garment in the solution, use rubber gloves.
4. Soak the clothing for at least eight hours.
5. Rinse it thoroughly before transferring it to your washing machine.
6. To remove the bleach, do a regular laundry cycle with lukewarm water.
Although oxygen bleach isn’t as harsh or harmful as chlorine bleach, it should still be used as a last resort to remove stains. It takes a long time for one item. Furthermore, before moving on to the nuclear option of cleaning solutions, it’s usually a good idea to test a light cleaner!

5. Ammonia


Ammonia, like bleach, has great cleansing properties, but it also has certain drawbacks.
Ammonia has a strong odor and can cause skin irritation. When working with this product, take all essential precautions, such as wearing gloves. It’s also not recommended for use with wool, silk, or nylon.
However, it performs a fantastic job of removing difficult stains, particularly grease stains that other stain removers are unable to remove.
1. Create a well-ventilated location with a bucket or bowl large enough to hold your damaged clothes.
2. Combine a quart of cool water, a spritz of dish soap, and one tablespoon of ammonia in a measuring cup.
3. Soak the discolored garment for 15 to 30 minutes after adding it to the water.
4. Rinse the clothes thoroughly. Continue to the following step if there are still dyes visible.
5. Pour one quart of water into the bucket and add a drop of vinegar.
6. Soak the garment for another 30 minutes if necessary.
7. Then, as normal, wash your clothes.
Although this procedure necessitates a bit more effort, it is effective in removing even the most tenacious red food dye stains!
Finally, please keep in mind that ammonia and bleach should never be mixed! This could result in a potentially fatal reaction.

How to Get Food Coloring Out of Non-Washable Clothes

Water or water and vinegar are the best ways to remove food coloring stains from dry clean or non-washable clothing. If you think this procedure will harm the clothing, take it to a professional dry cleaning.
On the manufacturer’s label inside, you may readily locate care instructions for your items. This tag should state whether the item should be dry cleaned exclusively or if it may be safely washed at home.
Non-washable garments can sometimes be spot-cleaned safely, even if they should not be submerged in water. Simply dab a small amount of water on a hidden region of the clothing to see if it works. Allow it to dry before inspecting it for any damage caused by the water.
You can also use a solution made by mixing a cup of vinegar with a cup of water. On white clothing, this works beautifully.
  1. Place your clothes on a clean towel to spot clean.
  2. Dip a sponge or cotton ball into the cool water (depending on the size of the stain).
  3. Dab the stain gently with your finger until it loosens, dissipates, or vanishes.
  4. To avoid returning the color to the original stain, rinse the sponge or replace the cotton ball on a regular basis.
If you must hire a professional dry cleaner, make every effort to remove any particles or moisture from the affected area first. Then tell the dry cleaner what happened and what product caused the discoloration. Finally, ensure sure the stain on the garment is noted.
The dry cleaner should next tell you whether or not they can treat the stain.

Can You Use Food Coloring to Tie-Dye?

Food coloring can be used to tie-dye, but it will not last in most fabrics. Despite this, it is a fun and less dangerous way to make with children. If you want to make these dyes color-fast in wool and silk, you can also follow the instructions for making an acid dye bath.
Using these procedures and any material other than cotton or linen, you may make a colorful tie-dye creation.
  1. Prepare a large bucket or a clean sink. Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a mixing bowl.
  2. Soak your shirt, socks, or scarf for an hour in this solution.
  3. Fill disposable solo cups halfway with warm water. Get as many cups as you’ll need for the quantity of colors you’ll be using.
  4. Fill each cup with eight drops of liquid dye.
  5. Next, crumple up handfuls of the material with rubber bands or pile the entire item on top of a wire rack with ice cubes on top.
  6. Then, using medicine droppers or pipettes, dribble the colors you want over the white stuff!
  7. Allow for at least eight hours of rest time, or overnight.
  8. Rinse until the water runs clear in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
  9. In your washing machine, wash the item by itself.
You shouldn’t put the tie-dyed clothing in the laundry with any other clothes. This color job isn’t really permanent, as you now know. That said, enjoy it while you can!

Can You Get Food Coloring Out of Carpet and Upholstery?

Most of the time, the vinegar procedure outlined earlier will remove food coloring from your carpet and upholstery. However, this is dependent on the materials used. For example, you should never clean silk upholstery with water or cleaning products–leave that to the specialists!
However, with a few tweaks, you can usually utilize the vinegar and soap procedure outlined before.
  1. First, try to get rid of any solid leftovers such as icing, ice cream, jello, and so on.
  2. Next, combine two cups of warm water with a spoonful of vinegar and dish soap. It has to be stirred.
  3. In this solution, soak a clean microfiber towel.
  4. Using the microfiber towel, blot the stain.
  5. Allow 30 minutes for the stain to set before repeating the blotting process.
  6. If the stain persists, use a clean sponge and a cup of cool water to remove it. Using water, sponge the stain.
  7. After that, sponging with rubbing alcohol is a good idea.
  8. Finally, sponge the area with water and allow it to dry.
As you go through this process, keep an eye on the cloth and rinse it out as the color accumulates.


Food coloring stains on clothes may appear to be permanent, but they are usually easy to remove with a few simple techniques. These stains may usually be removed with common household remedies like vinegar and dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol. You can use oxygen bleach or ammonia for more significant problems.
Most of the time, vinegar and soap can be used to blot stains on carpet and upholstery.
Have you ever gotten a horrible food dye stain? What method did you use to remove it from your clothing? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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