How to Get Tomato Sauce Out of Clothes with 3 Easy Methods

Updated: Apr. 19, 2023

Find out how to get tomato sauce out of clothes (even your white shirt!) with these simple methods.

Tomato sauce—delicious on your plate, terrible on your clothes. And unfortunately, tomato sauce is the star of some of the messiest foods! Whether you’re digging into a big bowl of beef bolognese or biting into a Neapolitan pizza, you’ll inevitably drip tomato sauce on your outfit. But don’t panic. We’re sharing the tried and true methods on how to get tomato sauce out of clothes.

Here’s the complete guide on how to clean the most common food stains.

Will Tomato Sauce Stain Clothes?

Tomato-based stains can be difficult to remove. The main reason for this is not only the bright red color, but it’s also due to the fact that tomatoes contain tannins—a naturally occurring dark pigmented compound in some fruits and vegetables. Tannins are also the reason tomato sauce can stain your favorite Tupperware containers!

When dealing with tomato sauce specifically, the oil content makes the stain even more damaging. Work fast when dealing with tomato sauce stains. The longer it sets into the fabric, the harder it will be to remove. While you’re at it, learn how to get ketchup out of clothes.

How to Remove Tomato Stains

Tomato Sauce stained shirt arranged with cleaning suppliesTMB Studio

Luckily, one of the following stain-fighting techniques should make tomato sauce stains on your clothes disappear. No matter which method you choose, start with these steps first:

  1. Scrape away as much sauce as you can from the garment using a spoon, then use a paper towel to soak up any excess.
  2. Rinse the stain with cold water. If possible, do this from the back of the stain so it pushes the stain out of the fabric fibers.

Now, you’re ready to tackle the remaining stain. Choose your stain-removal method depending on the type of stain you have—plain tomatoes, tomato sauce or tomato sauce on a white shirt.

Pretreat with detergent

Apply a stain fighting detergent directly to the tomato stain. Use a detergent containing stain-fighting enzymes like Tide Ultra Stain Release or Persil Pro Clean. Rub the detergent into the stain with a soft-bristled toothbrush, using a gentle circular motion. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, then wash with a regular load of laundry on the hottest water setting.

Apply stain remover

Apply a stain remover. We’ve found Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover to be especially effective on oily stains like tomato sauce. Agitate the stain remover with your finger, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Wash with a regular load of laundry on the hottest water setting. Here’s how to get soy sauce out of your clothes and carpet.

Add bleach

If you spill tomato sauce on a white shirt (oops!), bleach is probably your best bet to make it completely vanish. Mix 1/4 cup liquid bleach and one gallon cool water in a sink or bucket. Fully submerge the clothing in the solution, and let it sit for five minutes.

Then remove the clothing and wash through a hot-water laundry cycle. Use a stain-fighting laundry detergent and an additional 1/3 cup bleach added to your washing machine’s bleach dispenser (usually located next to the detergent dispenser). Learn how to get the butter out of your clothes with these tips and tricks.

How to Get Tomato Sauce Out of Carpet

Use a spoon to scoop up the tomato sauce from the carpet, then use one of these methods (or both) to fight the remaining red stain.

Treat with dish soap

Mix one tablespoon of liquid dish soap with two cups of cool water. Apply the mixture to the stain using a clean white cloth. Blot until the liquid is absorbed and the stain is gone.

Apply ammonia

Mix one tablespoon of ammonia and 1/2 cup of cool water. Apply the mixture to the stain using a white cloth. Blot until the liquid and the stain are absorbed.

Editor’s Note: Only use this method on a synthetic fiber carpet. Do not use ammonia on wool carpet because the high alkaline content will damage the wool fibers.