How To Get Food Coloring Out Of Carpet [3 Steps]

With the holidays right around the corner, you might be looking for fun family activities in the kitchen. Using food dye in your holiday recipes can add a colorful twist to your cooking. Unfortunately, spilling food coloring on your carpet can be tricky to clean up. If you do make a mess, don’t worry, we’ve researched exactly how to get food coloring out of your carpets and keep them looking clean. 

Above all, try to pay attention and clean stains as soon as possible. If you allow the sain to sit, it will be harder to clean. However, even if you don’t get to it immediately, you can still remove food dye from your carpet. Remember to repeat each of these steps until it stops removing portions of the stain, then proceed to the next step. Follow these steps to get out those pesky stains:

  1. Immediately blot a freshly stained area. Wet a dry stain, then blot.
  2. Apply a cleaning solution using a sponge. Blot dry, and repeat as needed until the stain is removed. 
  3. Absorb remaining moisture from the carpet using stacked, weighted paper towels on the area.

If all of these steps fail, you may need to hire a professional carpet cleaner. However, we encourage you to continue reading as we will go further into detail for each of these steps and answer some common questions about stain removal. 

Man in yellow gloves cleaning carpet, How To Get Food Coloring Out Of Carpet [3 Steps]

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How to Get Food Coloring Out Of Carpet

1. Wet And Blot The Stained Area

Regardless of if the stain was wet or dry to start with, you want to wet it. Make sure not to just pour water all over it, as the water will absorb some dye and potentially spread the stain. Occasionally, you can completely remove the food dye stain just by wetting it and blotting it up. Importantly, you want the stain damp, not soaked. 

Blot A Wet Stain Immediately

You hopefully got to the food coloring right after it hit your carpet. Therefore, you’ll want to grab some paper towels and blot up as much of the dye as possible. Absolutely do not scrub the dye or press hard on it, as this will force the dye farther into your carpet. In addition to making it harder to remove, scrubbing the dye can spread the stain. 

Wet A Dry Stain, Then Blot

For dry, older stains, you’ll want to start by wetting them. While you can immediately apply cleaning solutions, wetting the stain brings moisture back into the food coloring and allows it to be blotted up much easier. Meanwhile, you can get a cleaning solution prepared while you let the water soak. 

As soon as the stain is properly moisturized, you’ll want to grab more paper towels and blot the stain. Again, do not press into the stain heavily. This step is to remove as much of the stain as possible at this point. Repeat wetting and blotting until you no longer remove portions of the stain, and then move on to using a cleaning solution. 

2. Apply A Cleaning Solution

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Close-up of a man hand cleaning stain on carpet with sponge

For most colors of food dye, the same solution will work the best. Combine one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dish soap, and two cups of warm water. After that, apply the solution to a clean rag and sponge up as much of the stain as possible. You can then blot dry the carpet with a paper towel and repeat the process until you aren’t removing any more of the stain.

For red food coloring specifically, switch out the vinegar for ammonia and follow the same procedure. 

Click here to see lemon scented ammonia on Amazon.

Rubbing Alcohol

Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and warm water to sponge the stain. Commonly used as a cleaner and stain remover, alcohol will help break down and dissolve the stain. You’ll want to try the previous cleaning solution first, and then use rubbing alcohol to try to get anything leftover. Remember to blot the area dry each time you wet it, as moisture cycling will also help remove the food coloring. 

Click here to see isopropyl alcohol on Amazon.

Can You Put Hydrogen Peroxide On Carpet?

You can put hydrogen peroxide on your carpet. However, make sure to use a 3% solution. Most of the time, common hydrogen peroxide is diluted to this point, but if you happen to buy a higher percentage, you will absolutely bleach out the colors of your carpet fabrics. While using 3% still carries some bleaching risks, it doesn’t cause any other damage; just be aware of the type of carpet you will be applying it to and get the proper dilution. 

Click here to see hydrogen peroxide 3% on Amazon.

After all other cleaning solutions have failed, if the stain persists, you can use hydrogen peroxide. Pour a little of the solution onto the stain and let it sit for an hour. The peroxide will help dissolve and lift the stain out of the carpet. Once you’ve let it sit, soak up the peroxide with some paper towels, and the stain should be gone. 

3. Absorb Remaining Moisture from the Carpet

Once you’ve successfully gone through these steps, you’ll need to remove the remaining moisture and possible dye particles from the carpet. Liberally stack up paper towels, place them over the area, and then weigh them down with something heavy. The pressure pushes into the carpet and allows the paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. However, you’ll need to let this sit in this position for around an hour as well to make sure you’ve got everything. 

If you’d like a video tutorial for removing these stains, specifically an alternative process for red food dye, you can check out this one:


How Long Will It Take To Get Food Coloring Out Of Carpet?

The time it takes to remove food coloring stains can vary depending on the color and how set in the stain is. While some colors will come out of the carpet easier, others take more work or different steps.

If your stain is fresh and comes out easily, it may only take five minutes to remove the stain. However, set-in stains could take a few hours as you’ll need to let some cleaning solutions sink into the stain for some time. The sooner you begin cleaning the stain after the dye hits the carpet, the better! 

Does Color Matter When It Comes to Stains?

4 bottles of food coloring isolated on white background

Red stains are generally more difficult to remove from any fabric than other colors. However, when it comes to food dyes and stains, the chemistry of the dye matters more. An organic dye is easier to remove than a synthetic (lab-created) dye, as it will break down much easier. Regardless of this, an organic compound won’t be labeled as organic, so in the next two sections, we will cover which colors are easier or harder to get out of your carpet and why. The most common food colorings are Blue #1, Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6.

What Color Of Food Coloring Is Easiest To Get Out Of Carpet?

Blue is one of the easier stains to remove. Both Blue #1 (the most common blue coloring) and Blue #2 are at least partially organic. While Blue #1 is a synthetic organic compound, Blue #2 is an organic salt derived from indigotin. The latter is soluble in water and will be easiest to remove. Blue #1 is also easier to remove than other colors, but not as easy as Blue #2.

Yellow #6 is a petroleum-based coloring also known as Sunset Yellow. Just like the name describes, this is an orange-yellow food coloring. Being petroleum-based makes it soluble in normal cleaning chemicals, so it needs to be included here as one of the easier colors to remove from your carpet. 

What Color Of Food Coloring Is Hardest To Get Out Of Carpet?

Red is one of the most difficult colors to remove from the carpet. While the color contributes to this, the chemical makeup of most red food dyes is the real issue. For the most part, red food coloring contains a chemical known as Red #40, which is a synthetic compound that gives the dye its coloration. Any color that includes Red #40 will be very difficult to get out. 

Yellow #5 is a fully synthetic yellow coloring. Just like Red #40, being synthetic makes it much more resistant to dissolving in common chemicals and making it difficult to clean. While Red #40 is more difficult to remove overall, this is more due to the fact that fading a bright lemon yellow causes the stain to look as though it is gone.

In Conclusion

Overall, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get food coloring stains out of your carpet. After reading through this article you should be well-equipped to handle those kinds of stains and not worry when you’re enjoying your family activities.

When you’re looking at purchasing dyes, check the ingredients are in them. Try to get food colorings that contain Blue #2 and Yellow#6 since these stains will be easiest to get off of anything they get on. Remember that all of the other colors are essentially combinations of these three, so check the ingredients for which dyes were used to make those colors.

If you’ve got pesky rust stains on your carpet as well, check out our article How To Remove Rust Stains From Carpet.

For information about carpet replacement and how much that costs, see How Much Does Carpet Cost? [Inc. Installation & Material By Type].

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