Tips for Removing Berry Stains
There’s almost nothing better in the world than picking fresh berries from the vine or bush, and popping them into your mouth, savoring the sweet, tart juice as you munch them up.
We are especially fond of the wild blackberries that grow in profusion here in the Northwest.
“Profusion” is an understatement Blackberries are self-propagating and are a real nuisance when they pop up almost overnight in gardens and lawns.
How to Remove Berry Stains
After spending a few hours picking berries, you’ll find that the juice stains your fingers and the stains don’t seem to respond to a good washing with soap and water.
The dark stains work around your fingernails and even get under the nails themselves making your hands and fingers look really dirty.
Some berries are worse at staining when they are picked – blackberries are really bad.
Almost all of them will leave stains after being cooked into a pie or sauce and spilled or dropped onto clothing.
Common Berries that Stain:
- Concord, Red and Green Grapes
Berry Stains On Clothing
To treat the stains, you must remember berry stains are organic – like blood, milk, juice, etc. Organic stains respond better to natural or organic (lemon juice, certain enzymes) products and sunlight.
Many people that I’ve talked to highly recommend this method of removing fresh berry stains: boil a quart (or more) of water in a teakettle. Take the garment (table cloth, linen napkin, etc.) and pull it as taut as possible over a sink.
Then while the water is still very hot, hold the teakettle as high above the fabric as you can comfortably do and pour the water in a steady stream directly onto the berry stain. They swear this will wash the berry stain (almost) completely out of the fabric.
If the berry stains are on your clothing (fabric), you may be able to lighten the stain by attacking it immediately with cold water, dousing and scrubbing the stained material and then allowing it to dry in the bright sun. The sunlight will draw the stain out.
Commercial Products to Remove Berry Stains
Tide, made by Proctor & Gamble, is keeping up with today’s preference for more earth-friendly cleaning products. They have specific recommendations to deal with berry stains using their products.
Tide Powder with Bleach contains enzymes and is recommended for removing berry stains from washable fabrics. Fill a plastic container with warm water and add a scoop of the soap powder. Let it soak overnight or for a few hours, then launder as usual being sure to add the recommended amount of detergent for the size of the load.
A stain remover that I use frequently is Zout which is made by The Dial Corporation. Zout also contains enzymes (and surfactants) that are very effective in removing organic stains from washable fabrics. This stain remover comes in a plastic squeeze bottle. I apply it full strength to the stain and allow it to soak in for about a half hour; then I launder the garment in cool or warm water, as usual.
Be sure to examine the stain while it is still wet from being washed. If you can see any stain at all, do not put it in the dryer. Repeat the process with the stain remover and wash it again, then allow it to air dry by hanging on a hanger in an area with good air circulation. If the stain is still visible when it is dry, I might again dry dropping a little lemon juice on it and then drying it in the sun.
Oxygen Bleach (Oxy-Clean)
Another great product is Oxi-Clean, formerly sold only on TV, now available almost everywhere.
Some experts advise making a thin paste of OxiClean and water, then dabbing on the stain and allowing it to set up for 5-10 minutes. Run through a wash cycle to wash out all of the stain remover.
OxiClean itself recommends using 2 scoops of powder to 1 gallon of water. Drop the garment or article of washable fabric in and soak for 1-6 hours. Then rinse well or run through a wash cycle.
Do not dry the article in a dryer without being sure the OxiClean is removed.
Be sure to observe the manufacturer’s detailed instructions and cautions when using this (and any commercial product).