How To Remove Turmeric and Masala Stains?

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Turmeric is omnipresent in Indian food. That is one of the reasons why treating curry stains on clothes or dishes are challenging. The curcumin present in turmeric imparts the yellow colour, while tannin binds the colour to other compounds. So, combined, you have the ultimate recipe for disaster.

Most stains can be removed completely if you act on them immediately. Turmeric and masala stains however are quite persistent that even if you act immediately, the chances of cleaning it up immediately is low.

But that doesn’t mean you should leave it to dry because then, the chances of recovery are even more remote. The first course of action should be to scrape off the turmeric or the curry with a spoon. Then, use a wet wipe or a napkin to blot the stain. Repeat several times to remove as much stain as possible. This step prevents the yellow colour from spreading. Then, run it on cold water. These steps provide the best chances of success.

Consider yourself lucky if you stained a white piece of clothing as turmeric stains respond well to bleach. If not, you are likely to have a harder time.

Tip: Avoid using detergent and soap directly on the turmeric stains. The tartaric acid in turmeric and sodium hydroxide in the detergent will react and turn the stain red in colour.

So, let us take a look at the methods that work best to remove turmeric stains from clothes.

How We Tried The Different Methods?

You seldom get just turmeric stains on your clothes. Often, the stain is from curries that have an oil base. So, for this test, we heated up some oil and added turmeric to it. Then, we smeared it on 6 cloth patches. As mentioned earlier, it is almost impossible to clean the stain when it is set. So, we acted immediately. We quickly scraped off the residue, blotted it and kept it under running water for a few minutes to get rid of as much of the stain as possible. Then, we tried different methods as mentioned below to find out what works the best.

Spot stain treatment is best for turmeric stains as the colour has a tendency to spread. So, keep the stained part over a nonporous surface like a plastic lid and then treat just that area. Avoid soaking the whole dress in solutions because most likely the whole cloth will end up yellow.

Often readers ask us why talk about 6 or 7 methods that don’t work instead of telling about the one that does. The answer to that is there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. Many of these methods are picked from the first page results on Google. While some work, most don’t. And when you try out things that don’t work, it is a huge waste of time, money and effort. So, we believe that telling what doesn’t work is as important as telling what does work.

Method 1: Hand Sanitiser + Vanish

Hand sanitiser, as you know, contains predominantly alcohol. According to some sources, alcohol is helpful in breaking down tannin which binds the colour to the clothes. After leaving the hand sanitiser on for 30 minutes, we soaked it in Vanish for 12 hours. By this time, the colour had faded noticeably. But still, the stain persisted. Then, we washed it with the other clothes in the washing machine in a mixed load cycle at 40 C for an hour.

how to remove turmeric stains
Before and after

After washing and air drying it, the stain had faded dramatically. So, we pursued this method further and soaked it again in Vanish for 12 hours and washed it with other clothes. It definitely works! Vanish works on coloured clothes too effectively.

Method 2: Vanish + Dishwashing Liquid

For the second method, we made a solution of vanish and dishwashing liquid in equal quantities and applied it over the stain and left it overnight. The next day, we washed it off and then tossed it into the washing machine with other clothes.

how to remove turmeric stains
Before and after

As the stain faded significantly, we gave it another chance and soaked it in Vanish once again to see if it would completely remove the stain. And it worked! This method is also effective to remove rust stain on clothes.

Method 3: Vinegar

Many websites swear by vinegar for stain removal. So, we soaked the area in vinegar overnight. The next day, the stain remained as it was. It did not fade much at all. After that, we tossed it in the washing machine.

The results weren’t exactly ideal. Even after going through a cycle in the washing machine, the yellow colour persisted. Vinegar might have an effect in cutting through hard water stains on nonporous surfaces. But, when it comes to removing turmeric and masala stains from clothes, vinegar definitely is not the way to go.

before and after pictures of turmeric stain removal
Before and after

Method 4: Baking Soda+ Salt

Baking soda is a cleaning agent that many swear by. Salt acts as an abrasive and absorbs stains. So, we mixed both to a paste and applied it over the stain. After leaving it for a few hours, we washed it as usual.

This again was a disappointment like vinegar. From our experience, we have found baking soda to be an ideal option to clean up burnt residues. But, it is ineffective at cleaning turmeric stains on clothes.

before and after pictures of turmeric stain removal
Before and after

Method 5: Toothpaste

Toothpaste is a method recommended by many websites for removing turmeric stains. But just like detergent, toothpaste too reacts with turmeric and turns red in colour. After leaving it for a few hours, we washed off the toothpaste and then cleaned it in the washing machine.

Compared to the two previous methods, the patch treated with toothpaste gave better results. However, when compared to the first two methods using Vanish, it did not prove enough.

before and after pictures of turmeric stain removal
Before and after

Method 6: Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is supposed to be a good cleaning agent for stains on coloured clothes. So, just like the previous options, we soaked it in hydrogen peroxide overnight and then ran it through a cycle in the washing machine.

It was again a failure. The results show that this again is a method not worth pursuing.

how to remove turmeric stains


The winning method is the combination of hand sanitiser and Vanish. But, it required two wash cycles to completely eliminate the stain.

Hand sanitiser as mentioned helps break down tannin which binds the colour to various surfaces. The same method can also be used for grape juice and wine stains on clothes. Initial application of sanitiser will also help remove turmeric stains from kitchen countertops and other nonporous surfaces.

Turmeric stain is one of the toughest stains you will come across. So, cleaning agents specifically made for this purpose like Vanish works way better than so-called home remedies. That is why you should have a bottle of Vanish handy at all times and act immediately and stay patient for the best results.

1 thought on “How To Remove Turmeric and Masala Stains?”

  1. Why did you use vanish with the alcohol and the dish detergent, but not the other five options? I have rubbing alcohol and dish soap, but I don’t have vanish, so after reading this article, I still don’t know if I can remove the stains with what I have. If you tested the rubbing alcohol and the dish soap separately from vanish, it would be clear what does and doesn’t work, but since they were tested together I don’t know whether it’s the alcohol and the dish soap that remove the stains, or if they’re irrelevant and it’s just vanish.


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