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How to remove berry stains from anything and everything

They taste like heaven but berries can leave one heck of a stain.

by Karen B. Gibbs / / Source: TODAY
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They taste like heaven but berries can leave one heck of a stain. Whether it’s from blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or any other berry you choose, the cardinal rule is to tackle that stain ASAP. And then just follow these sage solutions from our cleaning pros.

How to remove berry stains from ...

...clothing

Dan Miller, founder and CEO of Mulberry’s Garment Care, offers several suggestions for banishing berry stains when they land on clothing.

Level 1: Lemon juice or vinegar

“Berry stains are plant-based and can be broken down (aka pre-treated) with acids such as lemon juice and vinegar,” Miller says.

  1. Pre-treat the stain with lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for five minutes. (If you’re in a restaurant, ask for a slice of lemon and start pre-treating on the spot.) It may also be helpful to tamp the stain with a small brush or toothbrush.
  2. After five minutes, rinse the stain with water to make sure that the acid doesn't damage the garment. In most cases, this pre-treatment will loosen the stain.
  3. Rub the stained area with detergent, then machine or hand wash as usual with your favorite detergent. If the article is not washable, take it to a dry cleaner.

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Level 2: Enzyme-based stain removers

If lemon juice or vinegar fails to remove the stain, your next step would be to treat the item with an enzyme-based stain remover, suggests Miller. Enzymes are naturally occurring amino acids that break down the basic components of stains. Different enzymes work on different types of stains, so in the case of plant-based stains like berries, a stain remover with pectinase is the way to go.

  1. After flushing the lemon juice or vinegar from the garment, spray the stain with an enzyme-based stain treater like Zout or Puracy.
  2. Allow 15 minutes for the enzymes to work.
  3. Machine wash the garment as usual — in hot water for whites and cool for colors. Or take it to a dry cleaner if the tag specifies.

Level 3: Oxygenated bleach

“If the stain persists, your final option would be to use an oxygenated bleach, like 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or a chlorine bleach,” recommends Miller. “Hydrogen peroxide bleaches like OxiClean and Clorox 2 are safe on most colors but chlorine has stronger stain-removing power, so it is better on whites. Since both can cause color loss, test it first on an inconspicuous part of the garment.”

Also, to prevent damage to the fibers, do not allow any of these bleaching products to sit on the garment for more than a minute before flushing with water. If you choose to bleach the garment in the wash, add regular bleach through the bleach dispenser and not directly onto the clothes.

... carpets

“You have to be very careful with this one,” warns carpet-cleaning pro Dean Carter, the CEO and founder of Carter’s Carpet Restoration in El Dorado Hills, California. He also warms that any silk or wool carpet should be cleaned by a professional.

“Soak up as much of the berry juice as possible without spreading or pushing it deeper into the fiber or backing.” To do this efficiently, Carter recommends squeezing and twisting the carpet fibers as you lift them upward.

Next, moderately spray lemon juice onto the effected area, soaking up as much of the liquid as possible without scrubbing. Use the squeeze/twist/lift method. Then liberally spray or sponge a solution of 1 tablespoon dish soap to 1 cup of water. Allow the products to work for a few minutes. Blot up the lemon-detergent mixture with a white cotton towel, using the same squeeze/twist/lift motion as before. Move to a fresh part of the towel as the stain transfers onto it. Repeat as needed.

Once the stain has been removed, place a clean towel over the area and set something heavy (about a couple of pounds) onto the towel for 30 minutes or so to absorb the remaining moisture. Dab the area with clear water to rinse out the remaining detergent. Blot dry.

If the stain is still visible, try 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, suggests Jack White, vice president of technical services for Rainbow International restoration services, but test it first in an inconspicuous place. If there’s no loss of color, dab the peroxide onto the stain with a clean, white cloth. Allow peroxide to work for a minute or so, then rinse from the carpet by dabbing with a cloth that has been dampened with water. Blot to dry.

Commercial carpet cleaners

If you opt for a commercially prepared carpet-cleaning product, White suggests the following:

  • Make sure it has the CRI Certified Seal of Approval.
  • Test the cleaner on an out-of-the-way part of the carpet (or an old carpet scrap) to see if it causes any damage.
  • Don't overuse the product. Apply a small amount of the cleaner to the stain, working from the outer edges to the center.
  • Blot, don't scrub.
  • Repeat until the stain is gone.
  • Blot lightly with clean water to remove residual cleaning product.

... upholstery

White offers a few tips for cleaning berry stains from upholstery. He also suggests that silk, vintage or antique upholstery should be professionally cleaned.

Remove any remaining fruit using a vacuum or towel. Check the care label first. If water-based cleaning is allowed, apply a small amount of detergent mixed with water to a white cloth and work in gently, starting at the outer edges of the stain and moving toward the center. Blot, don’t scrub. You may need to do this several times to remove the stain. After the stain is gone, blot the area with clean water to remove remaining detergent; otherwise, it will attract dirt.

If a stain remains, you can attempt to remove it by dabbing with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Allow the peroxide to work for a minute, then blot the area with clear water to remove residual peroxide.

If the stain is still there, contact a professional for help.

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