How to Get Ketchup Out of Clothes

Updated: Apr. 19, 2023

Tomato based stains can be tricky to remove, but not impossible. Find out how to get ketchup out of clothes in a few easy steps.

It’s happened to the best of us: We get a little too excited about our fries and ketchup, and things go south. Your crisp white shirt is suddenly sporting a big red splotch. The good news is your shirt can be saved. Here’s how to get ketchup out of clothes with just a few supplies.

How to Remove Ketchup Stains

White ketchup stained Shirt Stain With Dawn, Tide, Hydrogen Peroxide and a spoon on marble kitchen counter topTMB Studio

Things You’ll Need

  • Liquid laundry detergent, like Tide
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Before You Begin

Tomato-based stains like ketchup can be difficult to remove. The main reason for this is of course the bright red color; but it’s also due to the fact that tomatoes contain tannins, a naturally occurring compound in some fruits and vegetables that cause staining. These tannins are the same substances that cause tooth and Tupperware stains.

Remember with ketchup stains, the most important thing is to work fast. The longer the ketchup is able to set in the fabric, the harder it will be to remove.


Step 1: Scrape solids

Scrape away as much of the ketchup as you can. Then blot gently with a paper towel. Don’t rub the stain, which will just make the ketchup penetrate further into the fabric.

Step 2: Flush the stain

Turn the garment inside out and flush the stain with cold water. You’ll wash with hot water later, but hot water during this step can set the stain—which is the opposite of what you want to do! Turning the clothing inside out ensures the cold water is pushing the stain out.

Step 3: Apply detergent

Apply liquid laundry detergent directly to the stain. Use a detergent containing stain-fighting enzymes like Tide Ultra Stain Release or Persil Pro Clean. Starting on the outside of the stain and working towards the center, rub the detergent into the stain using a gentle circular motion. Let it sit for about five to 10 minutes, then rinse.

You can also use liquid detergent when treating a ketchup stain on carpet or upholstery. Mix one tablespoon of liquid detergent in two cups of warm water. Then blot the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in the solution, let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then blot away excess moisture with a dry towel. Repeat as needed.

Step 4: Apply hydrogen peroxide solution

If you can still see the ketchup stain after Step 3, try a hydrogen peroxide mixture. Mix a teaspoon of dish soap and a cup of hydrogen peroxide. Apply to the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse well.

Editor’s Tip: Be sure to only use the 3% hydrogen peroxide solution sold as a mild antiseptic in drug stores; anything stronger can bleach your clothes.

Step 5: Launder

Wash the garment with a normal laundry cycle using hot water. Check the stain after washing. Don’t dry the clothing if the stain is still visible because this can make the stain permanent. Repeat steps three and four until the stain is completely gone.

Still having issues? Try our Test Kitchen’s favorite stain removers.