So your hot sauce has gone wild and spills abound, including spots on your clothing? Don’t freak, but it’s important to act quickly. Hot sauce does stain due to the tannins and oils from the fruits and vegetables that it contains.
Let’s walk you through the proper next steps to make sure that stain isn’t there forever. Follow each step in order and stop once the stain is removed. The steps are in order based on the ingredients you likely have right at hand (kitchen first, then laundering solutions).
Golden rule: Never use hot water in any of the options below.
Hot water will cause hot sauce stains to set, and then there’s little that you can do to fully remove the discoloration. If it hurts to put your hand in the water you’re about to use, pour it out and start again.
Step 1: Act immediately.
Don’t wait until after you’ve finished your food. The longer it takes for action, the greater the chance that the stain will set.
Step 2: Run the stain under cool water for a minute plus.
Make sure you fully soak the area. Do not scrub the stain here – you don’t want it to spread. Instead let the water flow do the work. Turn the clothing inside out and hit the stain from the backside as well to help remove it from within the fabric.
Step 3: Place the clothing in a cool water bath containing liquid detergent and white vinegar.
A tablespoon of each in a plugged sink is enough. Both detergent and vinegar break down oils. Gently scrub the stained area in the bath, again not too hard. If the stain remains, pour a new bath with the same mixture and let the clothing soak for 30 minutes. Lightly scrub again.
Step 4: Pull out the laundry stain remover, pre-treat the stained spot, and wash the clothing.
Follow the instructions carefully on the stain remover. When you’re ready to wash, use warm water, NOT hot. Hot water will again set the remaining stain. After the wash cycle, inspect the to sauce stain. If it’s still there, follow step 4 again.
Step 5: Soak the clothing in a stain fighting laundry detergent for at least half an hour.
These stain fighting detergents contain enzymes that break down stains. Let the clothing soak for the full time, and then launder (step 4) again.
Step 6: Use bleach.
If all else fails and your clothing can be bleached (chlorine or color safe), then it’s time to try. Be sure to read your clothing label carefully before trying this step.
Lastly: Don’t dry the clothing with a drying machine until the stain is gone completely.
The high heat of a dryer will set any remaining stain, so all of that hard work you’ve done to remove the stain could be for nothing if you dry the fabric with high heat too quickly.