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What to do when tomato sauce stains your clothes, furniture or carpet

Love spaghetti and meatballs but hate the mess that sometimes ensues? As any fan of pasta knows, it’s almost impossible to eat pasta with sauce without getting it on your clothes, too. However, if you do find that you've splattered red gravy everywhere, just follow the advice of these cleaning pros. And don't forget the dish soap — you're going to need it!

How to remove tomato sauce from clothing

Unclutter.com blogger Donna Smallin Kuper suggests the following for removing tomato gravy stains from clothing.

First, do NOT attempt to remove any stain on a “dry clean only” item (or on any item you absolutely love if you are not certain how to clean it properly.) Mark the spot with a piece of blue painter’s tape or a safety pin and take it the dry cleaner as soon as possible. The tape will make it easy for the dry cleaner to locate the stain.

  1. For best results, treat stains on washable garments as soon as possible. The more quickly you treat a stain, the less likely it is to set.
  2. If there are any excess solids, gently scrape or brush them off. Blot liquid with a clean white, lint-free cloth. Avoid rubbing, as it may spread the stain or damage delicate fabrics.
  3. Soak the stained area in cold water for five minutes.
  4. Pre-treat the stain with a liquid laundry detergent or blue Dawn dish washing liquid. Starting at the outer edges of the stain and moving toward the center, work the pre-treatment into the fabric with a soft clean toothbrush or other soft bristle brush.
  5. Wash in detergent and oxygen bleach using the hottest water allowed according to the fabric care label.
  6. Air dry the garment as it can be difficult to see if the stain is really gone when the fabric is wet.
  7. If the stain remains, re-treat the stain with a pre-wash spray, then wash it with detergent and either chlorine bleach if the item is white and all-fabric oxygen bleach if the garment is colored.

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How to remove tomato sauce from upholstery

Lauren Haynes, cleaning expert with Star Domestic Cleaners in London, stresses first and foremost that antique and vintage upholstery should be cleaned by a professional. But for those willing to try busting sauce stains at home, here are her go-to tips.

  1. Remove the excess material and blot up as much of the sauce with a clean white cloth.
  2. Mix two cups of cool water with a tablespoon of liquid dish washing detergent.
  3. Apply the solution using a clean, white cloth and blot with a dry cloth until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. If necessary, repeat the process until the spot is gone.
  5. To remove the remaining cleaning solution from the upholstery, blot the area again with another cloth rinsed in cool water.
  6. Blot with a dry cloth to remove remaining moisture.

RELATED: The right way to remove chocolate stains from your clothes and furniture

How to remove tomato sauce from the carpet

Jack White, vice-president of Rainbow International, removes tomato gravy stains from carpet as follows:

  1. Pick up any excess, then get to work on the stain. Using a white cotton towel, blot to remove any residual tomato gravy.
  2. Mix a solution of 1 teaspoon dish washing detergent and 1 cup of water. Apply to carpet using a clean white towel.
  3. Work the solution into the spot with the towel, starting at the outer edge and working inward.
  4. Rinse by dabbing with water; blot until dry.
  5. If staining remains you can attempt to remove it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution but first test it in an inconspicuous part of the carpet. Allow it to dry. If there is no color change, it is safe to use.
  6. Rinse by dabbing with water, then blot to dry.
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