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Top tips for BBQ stain removal

With the BBQ season in full swing and with red fruits a popular choice for children to snack on as pudding, here are some tops tips from the house cleaning professionals, MOLLY MAID, on how to remove with those stubborn stains encountered at a BBQ.


Mustard is one of the more tricky candidates for stain removal as it makes a wetter stain than you might think! It’s vital to blot it up quickly to keep it from spreading. Once you’ve blotted up most of the liquid, scrape up any lingering solid bits. Mustard acts as a dye on fabric, so it’s particularly tough to get out. The best chance you have is to pre-treat the stain with a commercial spot cleaner, and then soak the garment in colour safe bleach and cool water. If that doesn’t work, try treating it with a dry cleaning solvent.

Ketchup & other tomato based sauces

Tomato based sauces can be a veritable nightmare, but here are some ideas on how best to tackle them:

Warning: Although tempting never use hot water and never dry the item of clothing or cloth in the dryer as heat sets tomato stains permanently.

Pour 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a sink of cold water to which you have added some dishwasher liquid. Then allow to soak – at least 30 minutes. Then rub the spot to help release the stain and rinse in cold water.

If the stain is still present but lighter, repeat the process. You still have a good chance of removing the stain out with continued effort. If the stain is very noticeable, treat it with a commercial stain remover. There are a number on the market. When all else fails, you can get more aggressive by using dry cleaning solution.

For those prepared to take a risk, you can also try the DIY approach with WD-40, a spray lubricant you may have in your garage. Test an inconspicuous section of the material first. If you do try WD-40, make sure to remove any oily residue in cold, soapy water after application.

BBQ Sauce

Place a layer of kitchen towels over the stain. Working from the inside of the fabric, rinse with cold water to transfer some of the barbecue sauce to the towel. Later, pre-treat with liquid laundry detergent to break up the stain. Allow to soak for several minutes, then rinse well. Sponge the stain with white vinegar and rinse again. If required, pre-treat again and wash. As above, be careful not to apply heat.

Red Berries

Although delicious and synonymous with summer, red berry stains are a devil for staining! To treat these stains, it is important to remember berry stains are organic – like blood, milk and juice. Organic stains respond better to natural or organic (lemon juice, certain enzymes) products and sunlight. There are two school of thought on removing these stains. Either use boiling water or immediately soaking it in cold water as soon as it happens and exposing it to sunlight.

Boil a kettle full of water. Take the item of clothing or fabric and pull it as tight as possible over a sink. Then while the water is still very hot, hold the kettle as high above the fabric as you can comfortably do and pour the water in a steady stream directly onto the berry stain. This can wash almost the whole berry stain completely out of the fabric. You may have to repeat this process a few times, so be patient.

Using cold water: If the berry stains are on your clothing (fabric), you may be able to lighten the stain by attacking it immediately with cold water, dousing and scrubbing the stained material and then allowing it to dry in the bright sun. The sunlight will draw the stain out.

Other top natural stain removers:

– Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is particularly effective as it acts as a mild bleach. Apply directly to the stain and leave to dry. It works well on white fabrics and if left in the sun works doubly fast. On coloured fabrics a colour test is recommended.

– Milk

Being a natural product it is safe and easy to use. It is also the original enzyme cleaner! It is very effective on juice stains and washable inks.