Did a scoop of chocolate ice cream just tumble down your kid’s (or maybe your) shirt? Don’t panic. It’s not impossible to remove a chocolate stain, but it will require liquid detergent, cold water and some patience. And, as with most stains, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get out. So, act quickly if you can and follow these simple stain removal tips to get your clothes spic-and-span again.
1. Try to remove any excess bits
Did a big dollop of chocolate pudding land on your kid’s pants? First, try to remove any excess blobs of chocolate from the clothing item using a dull knife (like a butter knife) or spoon. Don’t use a paper towel since that’ll probably just smear the chocolate onto clean areas of the clothing. But if you spilled something like hot chocolate, you can blot up the excess liquid with a paper towel. Also, don’t use a sharp knife that could cause more damage to the item. If the chocolate has already dried, it might be difficult to chip away, so be careful. You don’t want to do more harm than good.
2. Rinse from the inside out
Although you’ll be tempted to apply water directly onto the stain, don’t. Instead, flush out the stained area with cold running water (or soda water) from the backside of the garment, turning the clothing inside out if possible. In this way, you’re “pushing out” the stain through the least amount of fabric and helping to loosen it up. Also, don’t use hot or warm water since that could set the stain. If you’re not able to hold the item under running water, try to saturate the stain with water from the outside instead.
3. Rub the stain with liquid laundry detergent
Next, apply liquid laundry detergent to the stain. You can also use a liquid dish soap, if you don’t have any liquid detergent handy (but don’t use detergent designed for dishwashers). Let the clothing sit with the detergent for five minutes, then soak the clothing for 15 minutes in cold water. (If it’s an old stain, soak the clothing in cold water for at least 30 minutes.) Every three minutes or so, gently rub the stained area to help loosen it from the fabric fibers and rinse. Continue this step until you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, then completely rinse the stained area.
4. Apply stain remover and wash
If the stain persists, you may want to add a stain remover product, making sure to apply it to both sides of the stain. Then wash the clothing as usual in the washing machine. Make sure the stain is completely gone before you throw the clothing in the dryer or iron it since heat will set the stain. It’s best to air-dry the item first to make sure all traces of the stain have been removed.
Optional step: Head to the dry cleaner
You might not want to tackle some non-washable fabrics like acetate, silk, rayon and wool. Instead, drop off your stained item at the dry cleaner and let the pros handle it. And remember to always read the garment’s care labels before attempting any type of DIY stain removal.