Cleaning experts get rid of turmeric stains – from clothes, carpets, countertops and more – with these fixes

 Turmeric on countertop with other spices and cookbook
Turmeric on countertop with other spices and cookbook

I love to cook with turmeric, but hate the stains it leaves on my countertops and, if I'm careless, my clothes.

I've often resorted to bleach and scrubbing, never quite getting the stain-free result I wanted, so I've turned to the experts to find out how to get rid of turmeric stains from a range of surfaces, including counters, clothes, and carpets.

They recommended both natural solutions, including cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, and store-bought cleaning products. These are the ones that work.

How to get rid of turmeric stains

Yes, turmeric is a bright color that's easy to spot, which is why the stains are so noticeable. Why are the stains so stubborn, though? 'Turmeric is most usually used in cooking as a powder; however, that powder itself is very slightly oily' says H&G's Solved Editor, Millie Hurst. 'For this reason, many stain removers simply don't work on it – instead, you have to work on the basis that you're removing an oil-based stain, which requires a slightly different treatment.'

What removes turmeric stains?

'I'd always recommend natural cleaning solutions, like a baking soda and water paste, first. The key ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, makes turmeric stains especially hard to shift. With other stains, you can usually break down the molecules with water and dish soap, but turmeric isn't water soluble,' says Millie.

'Ecover’s Stain Remover (at Amazon)  is the product often used by experts to help remove all stains, including turmeric. The plant-based formula is designed to remove grease, oil, blood, makeup, and food stains the product tackles stubborn stains effectively. The Ecover stain remover stick (also at Amazon), with its specially-designed applicator, is really simple to brush on and wash off! It’s also vegan-friendly and suitable for sensitive skin. I have been using the product at home for a few months now and swear by it!'

How to get turmeric stains out of carpet

'For carpet stains, I recommend the Dr Beckmann carpet stain remover, available at Walmart,' says Millie. 'It has saved me multiple times from fees when moving out of rented apartments, cleaning up red wine spills and leftover marks from candle wax.'

However, Millie also recommends using baking soda: 'Combine a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of dish soap and a cup of warm water, and dab gently on to the stain. Leave for at least 10 minutes, then use a blunt knife to lift excess dried paste.

'Then, take a damp kitchen cloth to the remaining paste and dab carefully at it, working into the stain not outwards. Do not rub or you risk ruining the carpet pile. Clean the cloth in warm water and wipe away as much paste and soap as you can. Allow it to dry completely then vacuum the carpet. Repeat as necessary.'

Ben Gold, Founder of Recommended Home Buyers, has over five years of remodeling homes in Philadelphia, dealing with numerous turmeric stains in that time. He suggests 'blotting the stain with a white cloth or paper towel to remove as much of the turmeric as possible before applying a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water to the stain. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before blotting it again. If the stain persists, you can try applying a mixture of baking soda and water to the area and letting it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up.'

As with all cleaning solutions, always do a test patch first to ensure there is no damage to the surface you are working on.

How to get turmeric stains out of clothes

'Some of the same fixes for removing oil stains from clothes can be just as successful for removing turmeric stains from clothes, and particularly white items. Those aside, I've also tried Pro Care Laundry Stain Scrubber (at Amazon) and at Walmart,' says Millie Hurst.

'It combines a natural enzyme formula with a built-in brush applicator that treats oily stains really effectively (from turmeric to butter). It’s safe for colors and whites, so you can safely use it on most outfits, though always do a gentle test patch first.'

Ben Gold offers an alternative: 'For clothes, it's important to act quickly and treat the stain as soon as possible. Soak the affected area in cold water for a few hours before applying a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before washing the garment as you normally would.'

How to get rid of turmeric stains on countertops

'I like to use a baking soda and water paste to remove turmeric stains naturally,' says Millie. 'Simply mix equal parts to make the paste, apply it to the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Work at it with a dishcloth, then wipe it away.'

Removing turmeric stains from cookware

If you are removing turmeric stains from dishes, ceramic, plastic or glass, soaking them in a combination of two parts hot water and one part vinegar will remove stains. You can achieve the same result by soaking cookware in water with a few drops of bleach in it too. Most dishwasher hot cycles will also work to remove turmeric stains.


Do turmeric stains come out?

Yes, turmeric stains do come out. It's important not to rub turmeric powder into a surface since this will simply work the stain into it even further. You can start by blotting and applying a baking soda/water paste, allowing it to dry before vacuuming it off.

Is turmeric stain permanent?

Turmeric stains are not necessarily permanent: the key is to act quickly, to blot first, then to use a stain removal technique that works on breaking down oil, before being rinsed off.

Some stain removal methods will not removing turmeric, turning it red instead of yellow, so if you plan to use any solution other than those suggested above, always do a small test patch first to ensure you don't make the problem worse.