How to Remove Turmeric Stains from Household Items

Known for its array of health benefits, turmeric has earned its spot in your spice rack. But the stubborn stains it can leave behind are tough to remove. Combat them with our top tips for getting turmeric stains out of clothing, dishware, and more.

Turmeric is a spice that gives curry its yellow hue and possesses the active ingredient curcumin. Known for its health benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting brain function, and even lowering heart disease risk, the super spice has likely earned a spot in your pantry. But if you regularly cook with turmeric, you know that it can leave behind annoyingly stubborn stains on your clothes, countertops, dishes, and even your hands.

Turmeric stains are some of the hardest to get out, though not impossible. Related to the ginger family, the saturated golden-yellow pigment of this root spice possesses a lot of staying power, which is why turmeric is used to dye fabrics.

Whether your recipe calls for fresh turmeric or its powder form, don't worry—those pesky stains don't have to stick. We'll teach you how to remove turmeric stains from a variety of materials using common household products. Just keep in mind that the quicker you treat turmeric stains, the better chance you have of successfully removing them and restoring your clothes or housewares to their former glory.

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Edmund Barr

How to Remove Turmeric Stains from Clothes and Fabrics

Whether it's in the form of a splatter on your shirt or a stain on your dishcloth, turmeric can leave long-lasting marks on fabric. Here's how to get rid of them.

What You'll Need:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush or cloth
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach (for white items only)

Step 1: Remove any excess turmeric or food residue immediately with a spoon and rinse the area with water. Dab the spot with a clean towel to soak up any moisture. Do not rub or scrub; this will only spread the stain and deepen it into the fabric or cloth.

Step 2: Pre-treat the stain. Try using hand sanitizer, which contains alcohol and works to break up the pigment of turmeric. You can also pre-treat the stain with liquid laundry detergent. Apply a dab directly onto the stained area and use a soft-bristle toothbrush or a damp towel to gently scrub the stain before letting it soak for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Wash your item in the washing machine using a cold water cycle, as hot water may set the stain. Use the same amount of laundry detergent you'd normally use.

Step 4: If possible, allow item to air-dry in the sun, which has natural bleaching powers. That's right; the sun is so powerful that it can lighten garments (and unwanted stains). If it's a bright-colored item, opt to dry it inside to avoid fading.

How to Remove Turmeric Stains from White Clothes

If the stained item is white, soak it in a mixture of bleach (a few capfuls) and hot water for 15 minutes before washing. Another popular stain hack is mixing baking soda—known for its grease-cutting and gentle abrasive properties—with a little water to form a paste, then applying that to the stain before gently scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Once the turmeric stain has been treated, repeat the wash and dry instructions above.

preparing yams side of ginger
Carson Downing

How to Clean Turmeric Stains from Dishes

If you make turmeric smoothies for breakfast or store leftover turmeric dishes in plastic containers, you know the spice can leave unsightly yellow stains on dishes. And your dishwasher doesn't always do the trick. Here's how to easily and effectively remove stains from plastic, glass, and ceramic dishes as well as food storage containers.

What You'll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Non-scratch sponge or cleaning cloth
  • Magic Eraser melamine sponge or soft-bristle toothbrush

Step 1: Fill your sink or a basin with warm water and white vinegar in a 2 to 1 ratio. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and mix the ingredients together.

Step 2: Submerge the item into the solution and allow to soak for 15-30 minutes.

Step 3: Dump out the solution, clean with a non-scratch sponge and liquid dish soap, and rinse the item with warm water.

Step 4: If turmeric stains remain, grab a Magic Eraser sponge, which is effective for removing stains thanks to its abrasive components. With a drop of dish soap, scrub away any remaining turmeric. A soft-bristle toothbrush can also be used and is especially helpful for scrubbing tight corners, like the inside of mugs and corners of ceramic bakeware. Repeat this process as needed to effectively lighten or eliminate stains.

Step 5: If using your dishwasher to remove turmeric stains, run the hottest setting after pre-soaking dishes. Consider using a dishwasher detergent specifically designed to combat stains, like Dawn or OxiClean.

statement blue kitchen tour display shelves sink faucet
Anthony Masterson 

How to Clean Turmeric Stains from Countertops

If you spilled some turmeric on the counter while spicing up your favorite recipe, don't panic. You can typically remove turmeric stains on countertops with some gentle scrubbing.

What You'll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Microfiber cloth
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Magic Eraser melamine sponge (optional)

Step 1: Create a paste by combining equal parts baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Step 2: Using a microfiber cloth, gently scrub the stain in a circular motion.

Step 3: For extra cleaning power, try adding lemon juice or vinegar (if it's safe for your countertop material). If the stain persists, scrub the area with a Magic Eraser sponge, applying gentle pressure to avoid damage to the surface.

Take care not to scuff up the surface while you clean, and never use acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon on natural stone countertops, including marble or granite.

How to Remove Turmeric Stains from Nails and Skin

Cooking with turmeric often results in stained fingers or nails. Here's how to clean turmeric-stained hands with pantry ingredients.

What You'll Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls or rag
  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Citrus dish soap

Step 1: To remove turmeric stains from skin or nails, first try using rubbing alcohol to dislodge as much of the spice as possible. Add a dab of rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball and rub over turmeric stains, then wash hands with warm water and soap. Consider this a pre-treatment for your stained skin or nails, much like you would pre-treat stained clothing.

Step 2: Next, mix together a paste of lemon juice and baking soda, and rub into your skin to exfoliate and lift the yellow pigment. Wash away with warm water.

Step 3: To clean turmeric-stained nails, apply rubbing alcohol with cotton balls as you would polish remover until saturated. Submerge your nails in a bowl of diluted dish soap (citrus brands seem to work best, as lemon and lime naturally possess brightening properties) and soak for 10-15 minutes.

Step 4: Once finished, wash hands and be sure to treat nails and skin with a moisturizing product, as the alcohol will likely dry your hands.

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