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Removing Tomato Stains from Colored T-Shirts

By Dr. Laundry September 11, 2013

How do I remove a tomato stain from a yellow t-shirt?


I get lots of questions about spaghetti and tomato sauce stains, and there are a few different solutions for treating them! If you’ve got a stain from a tomato by itself, then you can pretreat it with Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster. To do this, apply a little directly to the stain, gently rub it in and wait 5 minutes. Use a timer so you don’t forget about it and let it dry out on the fabric. Next, wash in the hottest water recommended on the yellow t-shirt’s care label using detergent and more Clorox2®. Air dry the shirt and check for success—it’s always good to keep a stained item you are working on out of a hot dryer so any residual stain isn’t heat-set, which would make it nearly impossible to get out by repeating a treatment.

If the stain on your shirt is tomato sauce, that stain typically is a combination of both oil and tomato solids. If you treat the oily part first, your chances of success go way up. Start by applying a little liquid dishwashing detergent directly to the stain. Gently rub it in and wait 5 minutes—this helps solubilize the oil. Rinse the treated area, and then pre-treat any stain remaining a second time, this time with Clorox2® as described above, to get rid of the colored part of the stain. Next, wash the shirt in the hottest water recommended using detergent and more Clorox2®. Again, be sure to let the t-shirt air dry, and then check for success. If you miss any oil when pretreating, it may be hidden on the damp shirt but you’ll see it once the shirt is dry. If that happens then you can just repeat the treatment.