Karen Answers …
Ack! Removing Food Colouring Stains

Uncle Shifty Asked:

“Got some St. Paddy’s Day collateral damage at the pad. The green food colouring was supposed to go just in the beer but somehow got spread around a bit–on the rug, on my favourite party T-shirt (you know, the one that says I Eat Road Kill) and worse, I dunno how, all over my Tony Soprano poster. How fix, Karen? Help me out here.”

Karen Answered:

Uncle Shifty – the t-shirt and the poster sound ridiculous. You should have thrown them out long before they even had a chance to get covered in green food colouring.

However, I promised to help whenever I could so I performed a little experiment and as luck would have it, it worked.

To remove food colouring from clothing soak the stain with a product called “Goof Off”. You can get it at most hardware stores in the paint remover aisle.

To make sure it worked as promised, I performed this test for you. Even though you have questionable taste in clothing and home accessories.

1.  I first spilled diluted green food colouring onto t-shirt.

2.  I then  dripped a couple of undiluted food colouring drops onto t-shirt.

3.  I let the stains set overnight.

4.  Soaked the stains with Goof Off and let sit for 15 minutes.  It stunk.  And at this point it didn’t look like it was going to work.  Most of the stain remained.

5.  Washed in cold water (did not put in dryer afterwards because heat would set the stain). Low and behold … most of the stain was gone!

6.  Treated again with Goof Off.

7.  Washed again in cold water (did not put in dryer afterwards).  Still an even fainter stain so ….

8.  Treated a final (3rd ) time – rubbed the remaining stain quite a bit – and washed in cold water.

9.  Stain gone!  Put in dryer.


To remove food colouring treat with Goof Off.  It may take several treatments.  Wash in between each treatment in cold water.

There’s all kinds of crap on the Internet  about how to remove stains.  Don’t waste your time with ’em.  Just go buy a can of “Goof Off”.


  1. bex says:

    Weeeee… first one to comment here. Had to get my little thrill *sigh* 🙂
    Actually I have no idea what ‘goof off’ is as it looks like a tin of zippo lighter fuel .. but i was glad to see it works and hoping I’ll be able to get red wine stains out of a crisp white shirt.
    I wonder if zippo fluid would work….?

    • Karen says:

      Bex – Really? I have a post with *no* comments? That’s kind of sad. Feel free to do a run through and make sure all of them have at least one. Goof Off smells a bit like zippo fluid! But I think I’d try and find the Goof Off if I were you. 🙂 Hardware stores carry it. ~ k

  2. Gina Moody says:

    I accidently washed a red piece of material with other clothing. Needless to say, it is now pink. Will this Goop stuff remove it? I did not put the items in the dryer. thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gina – No. This is just for removing small spots not from entire pieces of clothing. If the piece you accidentally turned pink is white I would use Oxyclean. Soak it in the sink in hot, hot, hot water with 3 scoops of Oxyclean. And leave it for a day. Halfway through the day change out the water. ~ karen

  3. Becca says:

    I have had awesome results with peroxide (yep, the same bubbly stuff you put on boo boo’s) and sunshine. If it happens to be the couch or carpet, spritz some on the dab with a dry cloth. Only light colored cloth as it would be like using bleach on a dark fabric. Always test an inconspicuous area first.

  4. Francis says:

    I am using an ultrasonic washer that generates modulated ultrasonic waves that travel through water to disintegrate dirt and bacteria at the microscopic level while being significantly more gentle than the conventional washing machine and even traditional hand washing.

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