How to Remove Chocolate Stains from Clothing and Fabric

How to Remove Chocolate Stains from Clothing and Fabric

Have you ever shared a piece of chocolate with a child? In my house, any time I’m savouring a snack bar, chubby little fists greedily reach for their own share. I’m more than happy to invite them into the moment, offering my toddlers their own coveted piece. Inevitably, their eyes widen and brighten when the cocoa melts on their tongue. It’s a sweet moment that’s soured only by one thing … a refusal to eat the chocolate. They stand with the morsel gripped tight in their hand, taking intermittent licks while chocolate melts down their wrist. Immediately, I’m on mess defense, attempting to intercept hands wiping pants or performing chocolate fingerpaint art on the walls, cupboards and couch. Suffice it to say, I am in my life’s prime of chocolate stain removal and should you find your kids – or even yourself – dealing with chocolate stains on clothes, here’s the remedy.

Wait, why does chocolate stain?

Chocolate is made of cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. When fats come into contact with clothing, they can leave oily residue behind – a stain unto itself. What’s more, cocoa contains tannins, a naturally occurring substance derived in the roots, fruit, bark and wood of some foods which contain dark pigments. Think: wine, coffee and tea. Historically, tannin has been used to create dye, so we can understand and appreciate that in combination with oils, chocolate stains can be stubborn to remove if not treated promptly.

What you need to remove chocolate stains from clothes

How to remove chocolate stains in five easy steps

Step 1: Remove any excess chocolate

Resist the urge to sweep even small crumbs from your clothing – doing so often smears them into fabric, especially when warmed by your body or sunlight. Instead, gently pick up the debris with clean fingers or where possible, shake crumbs from a shirt or blanket.

If a confection has been smeared into fabric, use a blunt tool like a dull knife or credit card to lift the solid chocolate away. If the chocolate was melted, softened or was liquid (fondue, anyone?), carefully remove the garment from your body – as not to transfer the spill to other parts – then pop it into the freezer. Use a dull scraping tool to lift the frozen chocolate from the fabric.

At this point, check the item’s fabric care label. If it is dry clean only, bring it to a professional at your earliest convenience instead. Otherwise, proceed to step two.

Step 2: Rinse the stain with cold water from the back

Rinsing from the back side of the stain means residue will run off into a sink or basin.

Step 3: Pre-treat the stain

Optional: If your garment is white or light in colour and you are concerned about visible staining, apply white vinegar or lemon juice to the blemish. The acid will help break down the chocolate. Apply just enough to soak the stain. Then, gently agitate it with a toothbrush and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with cold water. Remember, it’s a good idea to first test for colourfastness before treating clothing with any DIY household remedies. Do so by applying vinegar/lemon juice to a small and obscure corner of the garment. Wait a few minutes before blotting with a paper towel or napkin. If any dye transfers to the paper, then the item is not colourfast and you should skip this step.

Apply a concentrated stain remover made from a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip.

First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the chocolate residue from the fabric. Rinse with cold water after 20 minutes.

Step 4: Time to wash

If the garment is machine-washable, toss it in the washer alongside a strip of Tru Earth. Otherwise, hand-wash the item by tearing the strip, placing the pieces in a sink or basin, and filling with water. Allow it to soak and then agitate the article and rinse.

Step 5: Inspect the stain. Has it resolved?

If the stain is difficult to see on wet, coloured textiles, hang to dry and then inspect. Special note: Only place the garment in the dryer if you are finished stain treating; the heat of the machine will “set” any remaining stains.

If the stain stubbornly persists, repeat steps three and four.

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