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How to remove chocolate stains like a pro

Dropped chocolate on your white shirt? Dripped hot chocolate on your carpet? Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered.

Updated

cap of hot chocolate with marshmallows

Knowing how to remove chocolate stains is a genuine life skill. No, really – if you or your family are chocolate lovers, you absolutely need to know how to remove it when the inevitable drips and spills happen.

The key to removing chocolate stains is speed, as chocolate contains a high amount of fat that keeps working away to ruin your clothing and carpets. But with so many different types of chocolate – and surfaces it can fall on – you also need to know which stain removal techniques and products work best in which circumstances. 

So whether it’s a favourite skirt, your kid’s top, the new sofa or that lovely cream carpet, we’ve put together some simple steps to help you get rid of chocolate stains like a pro.

Removing chocolate stains from clothes and bedding

Want to know how to get a chocolate stain out of a white shirt? Or desperate to get chocolate out of your sheets? We’ve put together some simple steps to help you quickly get your fabrics looking fabulous again.

(If you’re out and about when the stain occurs, head straight to the next section.)

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1. Act fast

The key to removing any type of chocolate stain is acting quickly. Chocolate will work itself into the fibres of fabrics, so the longer it’s left the worse the stain will be.

2. Scrape or blot away any excess chocolate

It’s important to carry out this step carefully to avoid rubbing the chocolate into the fabric further. The technique you use will depend on the type of chocolate that caused the stain:

  • If solid chocolate caused the stain, you might want to try refrigerating the fabric first for 10-15 minutes to harden the chocolate and keep the stain from spreading. Once the chocolate is hardened, lay the fabric out on a flat surface and use a butter knife or spoon to scrape off the excess chocolate. Make sure you only scrape up to the edges of the stain – if you scrape past the stain itself, you’ll only spread it further.

  • If the stain was caused by a liquid like hot chocolate or melted ice cream, use a clean white cloth or paper towel to blot away any excess. Again, be careful not to rub or spread the stain.

3. Check the care label

At this point, don’t do anything else until you’ve checked the care label (our handy guide to care labels explains all the symbols). If the item is dry-clean only, don’t rub or add water as you could make matters worse, especially on silk. Instead, head to the dry cleaners pronto.

4. Flush the back of the stained fabric with cold running water

As long as the item is washable, the next step is to hold the reverse of the fabric under the cold tap. This will help loosen the chocolate particles and drive them out of the clothing fibres.

5. Rub a biological laundry detergent into the stain

Gently, but thoroughly, apply a liquid detergent into the chocolate stain so that it saturates the fabric. Persil liquid has a Stain Eraser Ball that you can use for pre-treating stains. If you don't have or use liquid laundry detergent, you can use a little washing up liquid instead (but don't use detergent meant for the dishwasher). 

Alternatively, if you’re keen on natural stain removers and wondering: does vinegar remove chocolate stains? Happily, the answer is yes. Take a look at our tips on using vinegar to clean clothes.

6. Soak in cold water for 15 minutes

Carefully rub at the stain every three to five minutes or so while the item is soaking. And keep on doing this and rinsing, until you can’t remove any more in this way. You may need to apply more detergent for any particularly tough stains.

7. Wash according to the instructions

Pop the stained item in the washing machine on its usual wash with an effective laundry detergent. With any luck, the stain should be gone when you get it out.

8. Check the stain is completely gone before you iron or tumble dry

If the stain is still visible, it’s time to break out a commercial stain remover, following its instructions. Then wash and check again. If you’ve got a particularly stubborn stain, take a look at our tips for getting stains out of white clothing.

How to get rid of chocolate stains when you’re out and about

Let’s face it, we’re not always at home when we have to deal with stains. But there are still things you can do to limit the damage. 

Whether it’s a hot chocolate at a cafe or a chocolate ice cream in the park, ideally the stains should still be treated as soon as possible to prevent them setting further into the fabric. Importantly, try not to let them dry as this will make your job a lot harder. 

Follow our tips to make sure you’re not left with a permanent reminder of your chocolatey treat.

  1. Run clean cold water through the back of the fabric, to push the stain out of the fibres. Either from a tap (if you’re near a bathroom) or from a bottle.

  2. If you’re near a bathroom, rub some hand soap into the stain with your fingers.

  3. Wash the soap suds out with clean cold water as before.

  4. As long as it’s washable, put the item of clothing in the wash with a good laundry detergent as soon as you get home.

  5. If the stain persists, follow steps five to eight in the first section of this article.

How to get chocolate stains out of carpets

Unfortunately, clothes aren’t the only victims when it comes to chocolate stains. Carpets, especially pale ones, don’t fare too well when they come into contact with chocolate. Luckily these simple steps should help you tackle those unsightly stains…

1. Vacuum up any flakes or loose remnants of chocolate.

If the stain was caused by solid chocolate, use the hose of the vacuum cleaner (with no attachment) to hoover up any loose flakes. Make sure you hold it directly over the chocolate stain so you don’t rub or spread the stain.

2. Scrape or blot away excess chocolate

The technique you use at this step will depend on the type of chocolate that’s caused the stain:

  • If the chocolate was solid, hold an ice cube to it for a minute to make sure it’s as hard as possible, before scraping away the remnants with a blunt knife or spoon. Make sure not to rub it in further or spread the stain during this process.

  • If the stain is liquid, use a clean white cloth or paper towel to blot away the excess. Again, take care not to rub it or spread it further.

3. Apply washing up liquid and water to the stain with a toothbrush

Make a simple stain remover by mixing together a tablespoon of washing up liquid with about half a litre of water. Then gently dab this over the stain using a clean toothbrush (or if you don’t have one of those, use the corner of a clean white cloth). Whatever you do, don’t rub the chocolate deeper into the fabric of the carpet – a light touch is needed. 

Rinse off the toothbrush (or cloth) in between dabs to prevent spreading the chocolate further. Once you’ve covered the whole stain, allow the stain remover to sit for five to ten minutes.

4. Rinse, blot and repeat

Now it’s time to remove the washing up liquid mixture, so wet a clean white cloth with water and ‘rinse’ the area, using a blotting action (again, no rubbing!). If the cloth becomes dirty, rinse it or swap to a new cloth, to avoid spreading the stain.

Once you’re confident the soap is removed, blot the area with a clean dry cloth or layered paper towels. 

You’ll know the chocolate has been completely removed once the blotting towel feels moist but you see no sign of chocolate. But if there’s still evidence of the stain, repeat steps three and four again.

And if you’re still stuck, take a look at our easy carpet cleaning tips.

How to remove chocolate stains from upholstery

Sofas, chairs, even upholstered bedsteads aren’t safe from chocolate stains – especially if you’ve got children (those sticky fingers get everywhere). So what do you do when you discover a chocolate stain on your upholstery? Follow the steps below…

Caution: these steps shouldn’t be carried out on silk or vintage upholstery. If the material is delicate, call in a professional.

1. Check for removable covers

You could be in luck if the stain is on a chair or sofa cushion with a removable cover. If that’s the case, you can follow the steps we’ve already outlined above for clothes and bedding – winner! If not, read on…

2. Scrape or blot away excess chocolate

As with carpets, the technique you use at this step will depend on the type of chocolate that’s caused the stain:

  • For solid chocolate, hold an ice cube to it for a minute to harden it, before scraping away the remnants with a blunt knife or spoon. Make sure not to rub it in further or spread the stain.

  • For liquid stains like hot chocolate, use a clean white cloth or paper towel to blot away the excess. Again, take care not to rub it or spread it further.

3. Apply an appropriate stain remover

The products you can use on your upholstery will depend on the material. We’ve got some suggestions for the best stain removers to use on upholstery in our guide to cleaning furniture

In most cases, for a chocolate stain you should be able to use a small amount of water mixed with a mild laundry detergent like Persil Non-Bio. Just remember to test your solution on an inconspicuous area first. 

Once you’ve selected your stain remover, apply it to the stain in a dabbing motion, working from the outside in. And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t rub the stain or spread it.

It’s also important to remember not to apply too much stain remover as you don’t want to saturate the fabric. Delicacy is key.

4. Blot with a dry cloth and repeat 

Use a clean dry cloth to blot away the moisture. If the stain persists, repeat step three and blot again.

5. Apply clean water and blot again

Once you’re happy the stain is removed, apply clean water using the same technique as in step three to ensure all the soap is removed. Then blot with a dry cloth again to remove as much moisture as possible before you leave it to air dry.

Originally published