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What Is The Best Way To Remove Mustard Stains?

By Dr. Laundry October 15, 2015

Q: I have a mustard stain all over my clothes…  I do not have any Clorox products at the moment. What would you recommend to get it out? A:
Mustard stains include a colored component (most commonly a brightly colored spice, turmeric) that makes it a challenging stain to remove, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  You just need the right chemistry and technique to get the stains out.  Typically mustard stains benefit from pretreating, but since the stains are “all over your clothes” you may want to presoak the items before washing.  It really depends on how extensive the stains are.  Also, you really will need a good stain removal product to get the stains out, so I would definitely make a run to the store to pick up some our products to get the job done.  Rinsing with water or pretreating with laundry detergent just isn’t enough for this stain.  There are other factors to consider, as well, like the color and fabric content of the stained items.  Taking all that into consideration, here’s what you can try.
 
For white, bleachable items with only a small amount of stain, pretreat with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel.  This product contains the same sodium hypochlorite bleach active as our Regular-Bleach, but at a lower concentration that is safe to apply directly to white bleachable fabrics.  Rub a little of the gel into the stains, and then wash the items in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. Let the items air dry.
 
If the mustard is literally all over the clothes, it may be more efficient for you to do a presoak with Clorox® Regular-Bleach before washing.  To do this, add 3 Tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon cool water and stir to mix.  A plastic dishpan works well for this for only a few items.  You can also do this in a deep-fill clothes washer if you have a lot of items—just be sure to maintain the soaking solution bleach to water ratio of 3T bleach to 1 gallon of water.  Fully submerge the items in the bleach soaking solution (use a dishwasher safe dinner plate to weigh them down if necessary) and let them soak for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, drain the soaking solution and then wash the items in the hottest water recommended on the care labels using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Again, be sure to let the items air dry.  Depending on how old the stains are, you may need to repeat the treatment to get the stains all the way out; keeping the items out of a hot dryer increases your chance of eventual success.
 
A few words about “white, bleachable items”:  you should always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex.  Check the care labels, and if any of the items have even a small amount of spandex (also sometimes called Lycra) then you will want to work with Clorox2® instead.
 
For items with color (or white items that include spandex), pretreat the stains with liquid Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.  Apply a little directly to the stains and gently rub it in.  Wait 3-5 minutes, and then wash the items in the hottest water recommended on the garment care label using detergent and more Clorox2®.  Let the items air dry. 
 
Again, if you have a lot of stains on a lot of items to deal with, presoaking may be more efficient.  The powder and pack formulations of Clorox2® are excellent for presoaking.  Just add 1 pack or the scoop filled to line 1 to two gallons of hot tap water and stir to dissolve.  Fully submerge the items and let them soak for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, drain the soaking solution and then machine wash the items in the warmest water recommended using detergent and more Clorox2®.  Again, let the items air dry until you know all the stains are all the way out.
 
It sounds like you have quite a challenge on your hands.  I hope you can get the right products to make this job easier, and that you are successful.
 
–Dr. Laundry