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A Guide to Removing BBQ Sauce Stains

A Guide to Removing BBQ Sauce Stains

This article explores how to tackle common backyard BBQ stains to get you back to your Fourth of July cookout stress-free.

Let’s Get This (Red, White, & Blue) Party Started!

Happy Fourth of July from Heritage Park Laundry Essentials! We love everything about this holiday: friends, family, fireworks, and -- of course -- food! And we think there’s no better way to celebrate our country’s freedom than with the time-honored tradition of gathering for a big barbeque. 

But what’s a far less thrilling tradition? The inevitable messy aftermath of that beautiful backyard feast: BBQ sauce, ketchup and mustard, potato salad, burger grease, blueberry pie, and dirt and grass stains, and (insert your favorite food stain here) on your clothing, table linen, and even your carpet. But, not to worry. Whether you’re the grill master or the guest, we’ll get you back to the festivities with surefire strategies for eliminating common Fourth of July BBQ stains.

How to Tackle Common Backyard BBQ Stains

Type of Stain

Steps and Strategies

Barbeque Sauce, Ketchup, Hot Sauce, Tomato Sauce

Remove excess with a spoon or knife. DON'T dab or rub as this can spread the sauce stain. Run cold water through the back of the fabric to "flush out" as much stain as possible. Saturate with a pretreatment laundry stain remover; for heavy stains, add heavy-duty laundry detergent to the pre-treatment. Launder immediately. If stain remains, soak in color-safe bleach (if allowed) and repeat laundering.


Run under cold water to loosen stain and pre-treat immediately with stain remover or heavy-duty liquid detergent. If allowed, you can also soak the item in a solution of warm water and color-safe powdered bleach. Wash in the hottest water permitted for fabric and use color-safe bleach in the wash cycle.

Grass and Mud

Pre-treat with or pre-soak in enzyme detergent or stain remover or pre-treat with a laundry soap bar. Launder in hot water with enzyme-based detergent (Pro tip from a Little League mom: for stubborn stains, grate bar of laundry soap and toss a small pile of shavings into the washing machine with the item). Color-safe bleach as needed.

Greasy Food Stains (butter, oil, mayo, burger grill grease)

Light stains can be pre-treated with stain remover and laundered in the hottest water allowed for the fabric. For heavier grease stains, use liquid dish soap (dilute to dissolve color) and scrub the stained area with a toothbrush. Rinse in white vinegar. Then pre-treat with stain remover and follow directions above.

Salad Dressing

Saturate with enzyme detergent or stain remover and allow the product to penetrate fabric for at least a minute. For tough stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Launder as soon as possible.

Ice Cream

Pre-treat or soak using an enzyme-based stain treatment or detergent. Launder immediately in fabric-appropriate temperature.

Apple, Blueberry, Cherry Pie

Soak in lukewarm water with a capful of liquid dishwashing detergent and tablespoon of white vinegar. If needed, pre-treat or pre-soak in enzyme-based stain remover. Launder. If stain persists, use color-safe bleach 

Note: fully rinse fruit stains out before laundering as sugar in fruit juice can develop a brown stain when heated in the dryer, even if the juice is not visible on fabric.

Helpful Stain Removal Tips for Barbeques, Sauces and Beyond

As you tackle the specific stains from your backyard bash, here are some helpful cleaning tips for overall stain fighting:

  1. Read and follow care labels before. Here’s a helpful guide to deciphering care labels. Also, reconsider wearing a delicate or dry-clean-only garment to a casual gathering where you’re likely to pick up a stain.
  2. Treat stains quickly before they can set. Set up an easy-access “stain station” near a utility sink or with a bucket. 
  3. Have an enzyme detergent like Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent on hand to pre-soak; make a stain removing spray with a 1:1 mix of Heritage Park and water in a spray bottle for spot treatment. Learn about our enzyme blend here and how enzymes work here. (Note: some fabrics, like silk and wool, should be cleaned only with an enzyme-free detergent).
  4. Don’t rub fresh stains as this can cause the stain to spread. Remove any solid materials first then blot with a clean cloth, sponge, or paper towel with water or club soda.
  5. Rinse from the reverse side to force the stain out. 
  6. Never use chlorine, which will discolor fabric, or dry-cleaning solution on a stain. Use color-safe bleach only if care guidelines permit.
  7. To remove stains from delicate fabrics, start with the gentlest method first and work up from there.
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Lastly, remember that different stain families respond to different strategies. Blood, for example, comes out well in cold water, while hot water makes it “set.” Grass stains and mud stains both respond to a pre-treatment and hot-water wash; greasy stains like oil and butter come out best with liquid dish soap; and so on.

Please feel free to call us for any advice on removing stains or general fabric care. We are here to help!

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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