How to get tomato sauce out of clothes

Tomato sauce is a common cooking ingredient that can easily end up on your clothes, whether from a spill while cooking or an unfortunate bite that lands on your shirt. While tomato sauce stains can seem daunting, there are several effective methods you can use to remove them from fabric. In this article, we’ll go over the best tips and techniques for getting tomato sauce out of clothes, so you can get your garments looking fresh and clean again.

get tomato sauce out of clothes

Tomato Sauce Stains

Tomato sauce stains can be tricky to remove because they contain a combination of various components that can bind to the fabric. The main culprits are the pigments from the tomatoes, the oils and fats, and the acidic nature of the sauce.

The red pigments in tomatoes are derived from carotenoids, which are fat-soluble compounds. These pigments can easily penetrate and become embedded in fabric fibres, making them difficult to remove. The oils and fats in the sauce can also leave greasy stains that need to be addressed.

Additionally, the acidity of tomato sauce, which comes from the natural citric and malic acids, can cause discolouration and damage to certain fabrics over time if not treated promptly.

Treating Tomato Sauce Stains: The Sooner, the Better

The key to successfully removing tomato sauce stains is to act quickly. The longer a tomato sauce stain is allowed to set, the harder it will be to remove. As soon as you notice a tomato sauce spill on your clothing, take the following steps:

  1. Blot the Stain: Use a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel to gently blot the stain and soak up as much of the tomato sauce as possible. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can cause it to spread and further penetrate the fabric.
  2. Run Under Cold Water: Rinse the stained area under cold running water. This will help dilute the sauce and prevent the stain from setting further.
  3. Apply Stain Remover: Choose a stain remover that is specifically designed to target oil-based and pigment-based stains, such as dish soap or an enzymatic stain remover. Apply the product directly to the stain, following the instructions on the label.
  4. Let It Sit: Allow the stain remover to sit on the fabric for the recommended time, usually 5-10 minutes, to give it a chance to penetrate and break down the stain.
  5. Wash as Usual: Once the stain remover has had time to work, launder the garment as you normally would, using the hottest water temperature safe for the fabric.

It’s important to note that the sooner you can treat a tomato sauce stain, the better your chances of successfully removing it. If the stain has had time to set, you may need to repeat the process or try additional methods to lift the stain.

Additional Stain-Removal Techniques

If the initial treatment with a stain remover doesn’t work, or if the stain is particularly stubborn, you can try some additional techniques:

  1. Baking Soda and Vinegar: Create a paste by mixing baking soda and white vinegar, and apply it directly to the stain. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before washing the garment as usual. The baking soda and vinegar work together to help break down the stain.
  2. Laundry Detergent and Hydrogen Peroxide: Mix a small amount of laundry detergent with hydrogen peroxide, and apply the solution to the stain. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before washing. The hydrogen peroxide helps to bleach and lift the stain.
  3. Lemon Juice or Rubbing Alcohol: Dab a small amount of lemon juice or rubbing alcohol directly onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before washing. The acidic nature of the lemon juice and the solvent properties of the rubbing alcohol can be effective in breaking down tomato sauce stains.
  4. Dish Soap and Warm Water: Create a solution of warm water and a few drops of dish soap, and soak the stained garment in the mixture for 30 minutes to an hour before washing. The dish soap can help cut through the oils and fats in the tomato sauce.
  5. Enzyme Cleaner: Look for an enzyme-based stain remover or pre-treatment, which can be particularly effective in breaking down the proteins and pigments in tomato sauce. Follow the product instructions for the best results.

Commercial Products for Tomato Sauce Stains

Here are some commercial products that can be effective in removing tomato sauce stains:

Persil ProClean Stain Fighter– Enzymatic formula to break down tomato sauce stains
– Suitable for use on a variety of fabrics
– Can be used as a pre-treatment or added to the wash cycle
OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover– Oxygen-based formula to lift and brighten stains
– Effective on oil-based and pigment-based stains
– Can be used as a pre-treatment or added to the wash cycle
Shout Advanced Stain Remover– Gel formula that clings to fabric to treat stains
– Contains enzymes and surfactants to break down tomato sauce stains
– Can be used as a pre-treatment or laundry additive
Biz Enzymatic Stain Remover– Concentrated enzyme-based formula
– Specifically formulated to target protein-based stains like tomato sauce
– Can be used as a pre-treatment or added to the wash cycle

Preventing Tomato Sauce Stains

While it’s not always possible to avoid the occasional tomato sauce spill, there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of stains:

  1. Wear an Apron: When cooking with tomato sauce, wear an apron to protect your clothing from potential splashes and spills.
  2. Blot Quickly: If you do get a tomato sauce stain, act quickly and blot the area with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the liquid as possible before it has a chance to set.
  3. Pre-treat Stains: If you know you’ll be using tomato sauce, pre-treat your clothing with a stain remover or spot cleaner before cooking. This can help create a barrier and make the stain easier to remove later.
  4. Choose Darker Fabrics: Consider wearing darker-coloured clothing when cooking with tomato sauce, as it will be less noticeable if a stain does occur.
  5. Wash Promptly: If you do get a tomato sauce stain, be sure to wash the garment as soon as possible, following the steps outlined above for best results.

Dealing with Stubborn Tomato Sauce Stains

In some cases, even after trying multiple stain removal techniques, a tomato sauce stain may still linger. When faced with a particularly stubborn stain, consider the following options:

  1. Professional Dry Cleaning: For delicate fabrics or heavily set-in stains, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner. They have access to specialized solvents and equipment that can often remove even the toughest tomato sauce stains.
  2. Vinegar and Baking Soda: As a last resort, try a more concentrated solution of white vinegar and baking soda. Create a paste and let it sit on the stain for 30 minutes to an hour before washing. The acidic vinegar and abrasive baking soda can help break down the stain.
  3. Sunlight Exposure: Hang the garment in direct sunlight, as the UV rays can help bleach and lift the stain over time. This method may take several days or even weeks to be effective, but it’s a natural and gentle option.
  4. Consider the Fabric: Certain fabrics, such as silk or delicate synthetic blends, may be more challenging to treat for tomato sauce stains. If the stain persists, you may need to consult a professional or consider replacing the garment.


Removing tomato sauce stains from clothing can be a frustrating task, but with the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can successfully get your garments looking fresh and clean again. Remember to act quickly, use the appropriate stain removal products, and try a variety of methods if the initial treatment doesn’t work. By following these tips, you can confidently tackle even the toughest tomato sauce stains and keep your wardrobe looking its best.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.