Purex Stain Lab – Ketchup and Mustard Stains

By Tasha Zander, Purex Senior Scientist

July often means fun in the sun, family barbeques, and hot dogs and hamburgers loaded with all of the fixings! We all cringe when we watch our kids take a big bite of that hot dog as the ketchup and mustard drop down the front of their shirts. First of all, don’t panic and try to rub at the stain! This tends to make both ketchup and mustard stains larger and more difficult to remove. If it is possible to have your child change, do so. If you are unable to have your child change clothes, gently pull the shirt away from their skin. Then carefully scrape the excess ketchup and mustard off. A spoon or butter knife work well for this task.

If the shirt is not on your child, turn it inside out and run water through the stain from the inside of the shirt. This will help remove any of the stain that has not set. Turn the shirt so the right side is out and lay it flat. There are a couple of options now. You can try using a little bit of vinegar to dab at the stain. Don’t rub the stain too harshly, you do not want to make the stain larger or set it further into the fabric. Alternatively, if you have a favorite stain remover (I would recommend Zout Liquid Spray!), spray the stain and gently rub into the stain. Work the cleaner into the stain from the outside perimeter of the stain to minimize spreading. Let the stain remover sit for approximately 5 minutes and then launder as usual. Both ketchup and mustard are very persistent stains so please check for complete removal before transferring the clothing from the washer to the dryer. If the stain has not been removed completely, repeat treatment with the stain remover or pour a little detergent (such as Purex Oxi detergent) onto the stain and gently rub in as you did before. (Key word: gently!) Then launder the clothing item as you normally do.

For a tough mustard stain, another option is to make a paste with Twenty Mule Team Borax and gently rub it into the stain. The abrasiveness could help to release the stain from the fabric and also provide more targeted stain removal when you launder the item.

If you were unable to tackle the stain when it was fresh, do not despair! Treat the stain as described above – just be aware that it may take an extra treatment cycle to remove the stain.

Enjoy all of your hamburgers and hot dogs! Happy summer – and as always, happy stain fighting!

Tasha Zander is a senior scientist in the laundry care product development group at Henkel.  In that role, she has worked on almost every laundry product from Henkel in the United States and has fought a lot of stains over the last three years.  In addition, she recently got married and gets lots of laundry experience at home by tackling her husband’s weekly onslaught of sweaty running clothes.

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