Written by Grove Collaborative

Stain Busters: How to get chocolate out of clothes

Last Updated: September 30, 2020

Facing a baking disaster or messy toddler? Follow our helpful techniques for removing chocolate stains, including the best natural products to use.

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Spills happen, but Grove Collaborative has you covered with Stain Busters. Each week, we’ll tell you how to tackle a different tough stain around the home or on your clothes. Red wine, grass stains, ink ... no stubborn stain is a match for our grime-busting guides.

Getting a stain on your clothes can be quite irritating at the best of times. Getting a stain on your clothes like chocolate, one of the hardest substances to remove, can really take the cake! Grove Collaborative is here to the rescue, with a down and dirty guide to cleaning your clothes of chocolate stains once and for all. It’s not like you were saving it for later, right?

What type of stain is chocolate?

So, let’s talk chocolate. Chocolate comes from the cocoa plant and can be treated like other plant-based stains, even though it does have an oil component in it. However, cleaning the chocolate stain is a two-fold problem. The two main components of chocolate—cocoa powder and cocoa butter—present different cleaning challenges.

The cocoa powder is what’s responsible for leaving behind dark stains and splotches that are nearly impossible to remove once they’ve dried. The cocoa butter or “oil” needs to be treated as an oil stain to completely clean it.

Another thing you have to consider is the type of fabric the stain is on. Materials like silk and wool come with their own cleaning rules and requirements and have to be treated with the utmost care to prevent permanent damage.

Things you’ll need to clean chocolate stains

Cleaning chocolate from clothing isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Below we’ve compiled a list of items you’ll need for a proper cleaning.

Step-by-step instructions to clean chocolate stains

Step 1: Scrape away the chocolate

The first thing you need to do is to scrape away any residual chocolate left behind on the clothes. This will make it easy to get to the stain directly. If it’s liquid, pop the clothing in the freezer for a few minutes to let it harden.

Step 2: Rinse with cold water

Run the back of the stained fabric under cold water. The goal is to remove as much of the stain as possible without setting it permanently. This is very similar to what you do with blood stains as well.

Step 3: Apply detergent

Put a few drops of dishwashing detergent on the chocolate stain to cut away the oil and fat in the chocolate. You can also use a laundry detergent along with a dishwashing one. Let the detergent sit for 5 to 10 minutes and sink into the fabric.

Step 4: Soak and rinse in cold water

After rubbing the stain with detergent, soak the clothing in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes or so. You can also rub the stain with your fingers to help gently loosen it up. Rinse the stained area thoroughly until all the stain that you can see is removed.

Step 5 (optional): Use an enzyme cleaner

If the stain is still not completely gone, try using an enzyme-based cleaner. Apply it on both sides of the stain to ensure it penetrates the fabric completely. Let it sit before rinsing it out the same as you did the detergent.

Step 6 (optional): Wash and air dry

Wash the fabric in a regular washing machine. Before tossing it in the dryer, make sure that the stain is completely removed, to avoid making the stain permanent. You might even want to air dry for best results. Repeat this step if the stain is still there, waiting to use the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

Grove Tip

Don't wait to attack a stain

For best results, clean a chocolate stain as soon as possible and resist the temptation to use warm or hot water to loosen the stain. Stick with cold water!

Chocolate stain removal tips & tricks

Does vinegar remove chocolate stains?

It sure can! Have we mentioned how much we love vinegar? Seriously though, vinegar can help with almost anything, including removing chocolate stains from clothes. Soak the clothes in a mix of water and vinegar and then scrub away.

Does hydrogen peroxide remove chocolate stains?

Similar to vinegar, hydrogen peroxide can be diluted and applied to the stain. Mix one part dish soap with two parts peroxide (make sure it’s a 3% diluted hydrogen peroxide), and apply directly to the stain to help both cut through the fat and lighten the stain. Note that this solution isn’t as natural as vinegar and runs the risk of bleaching clothing, so we suggest starting with vinegar first.

Does OxiClean remove chocolate stains?

An oxygenated cleaner like OxiClean or Molly Suds (a more natural choice) can be used to remove chocolate stains, just be careful to check if the cleaner is safe to use on colors or whites only. Follow the pretreatment steps above, then launder with your oxygenated cleaner.

How do you remove chocolate from sheets?

The process is similar to removing chocolate stains from clothing. The best way to remove chocolate stains from any fabric is to soak the fabric in a mixture of water and either dishwashing soap, detergent, or vinegar to loosen and lift the stains. Use an enzyme cleaner for more stubborn smudges, and then wash and air dry until the stain has lifted.

How do you get chocolate out of carpet?

  1. If the stain has dried, use a vacuum to suck up any excess chocolate to prevent it from being squished into the carpet and causing a larger stain — the hose works wonders on targeting a specific area without risking a wheel smush.
  2. Apply one of the above stain removers (dishwashing liquid, diluted vinegar solution, enzyme cleaner) to the stain with a sponge or toothbrush, being careful not to scrub too hard and make the stain spread.
  3. Let the stain remover work its magic for 5 to 10 minutes before blotting with a clean towel.
  4. Repeat as needed.

How do you get chocolate out of upholstery?

The process for removing chocolate from upholstery is similar to removing it from carpet. Lift any excess chocolate using your vacuum hose or lightly blotting with a towel, apply a stain remover, blot with a clean paper towel, and repeat.

How do you get dried chocolate out of clothes?

Blot the stain carefully, and then use vinegar to loosen and lift the stain, followed by color-safe bleach. You can also soak the clothing item in a tub of laundry detergent and water prior to rinsing and washing as usual.

How do you get chocolate out of clothes without washing them?

If you’re out and about and facing a chocolate spill, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the damage. First, try and remove the excess chocolate, being careful not to create a bigger stain. Next, if you have one on hand, apply a stain remover pen to the affected area. If you don’t have a stain pen handy but can remove the article of clothing in the restroom, rinse the stain with cold water (never hot!) and let air dry — avoid the temptation to run your clothing under the hand dryer, as this may set the stain.

Chocolate-removing products

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on stains, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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