Notoriously difficult-to-remove chocolate stains might be easier to clean than you think.
It can happen to anyone. You’re eating a piece of chocolate cake, maybe enjoying a cup of hot cocoa, and next thing you know, there’s a chocolate stain on one of your favorite pieces of clothing.
Chocolate stains can be especially tricky to remove from clothes because of the ingredients in humankind’s historically favored treat — cocoa powder and oily cocoa butter, each of which stains easily and presents a unique challenge for stain removal.
So how to get chocolate out of clothes? With the right sustainable supplies and in a few simple steps, your clothes will look better than ever without having to cut your losses or resort to bleach.
Supplies You’ll Need
When removing chocolate stains from clothes, there are a few basic supplies you’ll want to have handy. Most of these should be lying around your home or workspace already.
- Butter knife, palette knife, or spoon
- Dish soap
- Laundry detergent
- Optional: white vinegar
- Optional: spot treatment stain remover
- Optional: a toothbrush (unused or clean of any toothpaste residue)
Don’t forget to always read the tags on your clothes for any special care instructions! If your garment is dry-clean-only, for example, skip the at-home care and bring it into the dry cleaners. And if it’s made with especially delicate fabrics, be gentle when agitating the stain to prevent any damage or tearing.
Steps for Removing Chocolate Stains
So now it’s time to get down to business. Once you have your supplies and tools, you’re ready to kiss that chocolate stain goodbye.
If you’re out and about when you spill or smudge chocolate on your clothes, and are unable to follow the steps below right away, scrape away excess bits of chocolate. Then, either use a stain remover pen or rinse with cold water, allowing the area to air dry. Once home, you can proceed with the steps outlined below for how to get chocolate out of clothes.
1. Scrape Away Excess Chocolate
Before you get to the spot-treating and deep-cleaning steps, you’ll want to get rid of any surface bits and pieces of chocolate. If you’ve spilled liquid chocolate or the stain is wet, stick your garment in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the stain so it’s easier to remove the excess debris.
Be gentle but persistent. Too much scraping and rubbing will only set the stain deeper into the fabric. Use the butter knife or some sort of tool with an edge (palette knives and spoons work well, too) to scrape away the chocolate from the outer surface of the garment.
2. Rinse With Cold Water
Flip your stained clothing item inside out and run cold water over the back of the stained area. This helps further remove chocolate particles from the fabric’s surface and fibers without setting the stain permanently.
3. Spot Treat
Apply a few drops of liquid dish soap to the stain. Gently rub it in with your fingers or a toothbrush and let it sit for five to ten minutes. If preferred, you can substitute dish soap for laundry detergent or white vinegar, just be sure not to use dishwasher machine detergent.
This step helps work away some of the oils in the chocolate that are what can make chocolate stains so persistent. There’s no need to agitate the stain in this step, as the point is to just allow the soap or detergent (or vinegar) to soak into the stain.
4. Soak and Rinse Your Clothing
Take your clothing item and soak it in a bowl of cold water. Let it sit fully submerged for about 20 minutes, lightly agitating the stain every couple of minutes with your fingers or a toothbrush. You can repeat this step as needed until you aren’t seeing any more of the chocolate come out.
This will help lift the stain more deeply from the fibers of the fabric now that you’ve gotten the surface debris off in earlier steps. Plus, now that you’ve allowed the soap in step three to sink into the stain.
5. Wash and (Air) Dry
Once you’ve loosened, agitated, and lifted the bulk of your chocolate stain from your garment, stick it in the washing machine as you would normally. You can use a spot treatment spray as well, letting it sit for the time indicated on the label. Be sure to follow any special instructions on the tag.
Following your garment’s washing instructions on the tag, wash your chocolate-stained clothing in cold water. This keeps the stain from working deeper into the fabric.
Plus, doing laundry in cold water is better for the environment and saves you money on your electricity bill each month.
Be sure not to place your clothing items in the dryer unless the chocolate stain is completely gone! Air dry, or repeat the washing process until all signs of the stain are gone. Then, you can resume heat-drying in your dryer as usual with any fabric softener sheets for soft, fresh-smelling clothes.
Stain Removal Tip – Add half a cup of baking soda into your load of laundry for a little extra stain-removing power. Just sprinkle it directly into the machine’s drum (not the detergent dispenser), and you’re good to go!
What Makes Chocolate Stains So Hard to Remove?
Chocolate stains are especially difficult to remove because of the ingredients common to chocolate — cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar.
Cocoa butter, a nutrient-dense food (similar to coconut oil, in fact, in that you can melt and use it for making keto coffee), is oily and gives chocolate its characteristic texture. Plus, unless you’re dealing with white chocolate the tannins in cocoa powder give chocolate its dark color and will naturally show more prominently on your clothes.
A Natural Way to Clean
Harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances don’t have to be the norm for getting clean and stain-free laundry.
Now that you know how to get chocolate out of clothes, choose sustainable, eco-friendly products capable of tackling the toughest stains while being gentle on sensitive skin and friendly to the environment. For bright, beautiful clothes without the dyes, parabens, or sulfates, try our laundry detergent pods made entirely of plants.
Because it feels good to do the right thing. Together, our small choices for something as seemingly mundane as removing chocolate stains or doing laundry can make an impact around the world.
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