How To Remove Mustard Stains

Removing Mustard Stains Cleaning Tips

When that drop of mustard fell, you probably inwardly groaned at the sight and immediately thought, “Oh great, now what!” And you were right to be concerned about the stain. Mustard is more than just an unsightly temporary inconvenience. Mustard, particularly the classic yellow variety, contains turmeric. Turmeric is a yellow dye that’s present both in the mustard seed itself and in the commercially produced mustard as an additive to enhance the yellow color. Because turmeric is a dye, if it’s not treated as quickly as possible, you could be faced with a newly-dyed polka dot on your shirt!

First and Foremost, What NOT to Do With Mustard Stains!

Before you start trying to remove the mustard, please be sure to read the labels on anything that you’re going to use. The absolute worst thing in the world to put on a mustard stain is ammonia. Ammonia reacts with turmeric to set it even more permanently than it naturally sets itself. If you use a cleanser with ammonia on the stain, you’re officially ensuring that your item will have a lovely yellow adornment for all time. Also, be sure to read the care label on the item. Some treatments that may work on cotton could destroy silk or wool. Any item that is not washable is best treated by a dry cleaning professional. And always test the solutions on an inconspicuous corner or seam allowance of the fabric to ensure that it doesn’t affect the color or feel of the fabric.

If the Mustard Stain is Fresh:

The best time to catch and treat the stain is when it’s fresh and still moist. Immediately blot the stain – do not rub it, you don’t want to spread the turmeric onto unstained fabric and/or set it even more deeply into the fabric fibers. Treat the fabric as quickly as possible with a commercial pre-treating solution, and wash immediately according to your normal laundering routine. Hopefully, you will have caught the stain quickly enough to avoid the stain setting in. If not, it’s time to move on to more in-depth measures.

If The Mustard Stain is Old – First Remove Excess:

If you find the mustard stain after it’s already dried, all may not be lost. The first step is to remove any excess mustard. The crusty portion of the stain needs to be long-gone before you begin to treat the fabric, or you risk spreading the stain once it becomes moist again. Use a dull knife, the edge of a credit card, a spatula (something that won’t damage the fabric, but scrapes easily) to scrape away any excess mustard. Be sure that you shake away all the scrapings so that you don’t find smaller yellow dots as an unwelcome surprise later.

Option #1 – The Hair of the Dog

No, this isn’t a remedy for the morning after an unfortunate bout of over imbibing. However, the same premise can apply to mustard stains. If you know the exact type of mustard from the stain, cover the stain with fresh mustard. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then treat as listed for a fresh stain. Sometimes, the ingredients in the mustard can revive the turmeric in the stain and let the stain believe it’s fresh again. And a fresh stain is always the easiest type of stain to remove.

Option #2 – Alcohol and Dish Soap

If you don’t have the same mustard available or if the mustard treatment didn’t pan out, the next option to try is a solution containing a combination of rubbing alcohol and dish soap. Mix a solution of three parts dish soap (liquid version only) and one part rubbing alcohol. Be sure that you have an absorbent material under the stain before you apply the solution. Put this solution on the stain and allow it to soak for at least 10 minutes, but not too long such that it dries. The alcohol in this solution may make the stain look dark temporarily, but not to worry, it will rinse out! Rinse the treated area thoroughly with hot water, and then launder.

Option #3 – Vinegar, Water, and Dish Soap

Another option with items that should be easily found in your home and does not require a trip to the store for some new substance that may or may not work is a solution of vinegar, water, and dish soap. Mix approximately a half-teaspoon of dish soap, a half-cup of water, and a few drops of white vinegar. Apply the solution to the mustard stain (again using an absorbent material underneath) and allow to soak. Rinse well with hot water and launder.

Option #4 – Enzymatic Cleaner

If these more natural remedies don’t remove the mustard stain, your best option is to use a commercial enzymatic cleanser. Two of the more popular are Biz and Axion; however, any product that has on its label that it’s for protein-based stains and is safe for fabric should do. Be sure to read the label thoroughly to ensure that you follow the directions explicitly.

Mustard stains can be some of the most difficult to treat and remove. There are options out there to try, however, before immediately relegating your garment to the rag bag. And if all else fails, a white garment can be treated with chlorine bleach and then rinsed quickly to avoid fabric fiber damage.

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