How to Remove Curry Stains from Clothes [3 Methods]

curry stain removal

Last updated: May 17, 2020 at 21:03 pm

We all know the feeling, you’re at your favourite Indian restaurant enjoying a curry with your mates when suddenly the world turns to slow motion. You see the drip forming on the edge of your spoon. Before you can do anything it rolls over the edge heading towards your favourite shirt.

So, what next? Fear not, your favourite shirt still has a chance.

What Is Curry?

The term Curry covers a range of dishes that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Curry typically contains a combination of herbs and spices. Common herbs and spices used in Curry include ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chilies.

The Curry is usually prepared as a sauce and may contain meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, or vegetables. Often for religious reasons Curry is prepared as a vegetarian dish.

In fact, for many years Chicken Tikka Masala won the title of Britain’s favourite dish.

It is therefore no surprise that we spend a lot of time eating curries and opening ourselves to the risk of a curry stain!

What Makes Curry Stains so Potent?

So, why are curry stains so hard to remove? Stains can occur from many meals, it is not uncommon to get a splash of milk on your clothes when eating cereal, or a splatter of gravy from a Sunday Roast.

However, these are easy to wash from clothing and do not usually cause long lasting damage. Curry however can leave serious stains that are difficult to remove.

The reason curry stains clothes so bad is due to the chemical curcumin. Curcumin is found in Turmeric and consists of bright yellow molecules. In fact, curcumin is used as a dye for clothing.

The bright yellow/orange robes you see Buddhist monks wear are dyed using curcumin. It is therefore no wonder that a few drops on a clean white shirt are going to be hard to remove.

Immediate Steps to Help Prevent a Permanent Stain

So, what should you do in the event you get a curry stain in a restaurant?

Scrape any remaining sauce off the garment immediately. Use a spoon or knife to remove any excess sauce. In an emergency you could even use a credit card.


Blot the stain with a damp cloth or tissue.

DO NOT wipe the stain with the cloth. This will only spread the stain further.

Removing Curry Stains

There are several methods of removing the stain from the clothes.

Method 1: Washing Powder/Liquid

Step One – Attempt to scrape any remaining sauce off using a knife.

Step Two – Fill a sink or bucket with cold water.

Step Three – Add some washing power or liquid.

Step Four – Mix the solution.

Step Five – Soak the stained garment in the water for 30 minutes.

Step Six – Place the garment in the washing machine.

Step Seven – Set the temperature for the highest temperature the garment’s fabric care label indicates.

Step Eight – Add the correct dose of liquid/powder as indicated on the detergent labelling.

Step Nine – Start the wash cycle.

Step Ten – Remove the garment.

Step Eleven – If the stain remains, repeat the above steps.

Step Twelve – If the stain has gone, dry the garment.

Top tip – hang the garment to dry in direct sunlight if possible. Sunlight acts as a mild bleach and will help remove any remaining traces of the stain.

Method 2: Glycerine and Bleach

Step One – Attempt to scrape any remaining sauce off using a knife.

Step Two – Rub glycerine into the stain, using your fingers.

Step Three – Let the glycerine settle for several minutes.

Step Four – Wash with cool water.

Step Five – Wash in the washing machine using the highest temperature that is indicated on the fabric care label. Add bleach that is suitable for the type of fabric – check both the fabric care label and the bleach bottle label.

Step Six – Remove from the washing machine and dry.

Method 3: Commercial Stain Removers

There are many products on the market for removing stains from fabrics.

Step One – Pre-treat the stain using the stain remover product. Follow the instructions on the products label to ensure your clothes do not get damaged.

Step Two – Wash the garment in the washing machine using either chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach depending on the type of fabric.

Step Three – If the stain still remains, soak the garment for 30 minutes in a mix of 9 parts cold water to 1-part hydrogen peroxide.

Step Four – Rinse in clean water.

Step Five – Repeat washing cycle.

Step Six – Dry in the sun.

The Difference Between Chlorine Bleach & Oxygen Bleach

The choice of whether to use Chlorine Bleach or Oxygen Bleach will depend on the type of garment you are cleaning.

Chlorine Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. It is typically diluted with water to a concentration of 5%. Chlorine bleach is highly caustic. It can dissolve fabric or skin if left in contact for extended periods. This is particularly true at higher concentrations.

There is a risk of colour damage to your garment. When used for stain removal it will normally be diluted even further with water.

Oxygen Bleach was developed to solve some of the issues associated with Chlorine Bleach.

Oxygen Bleach contains the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide. This is combined with sodium and occasionally carbon.

It is delivered in a powdered form that releases hydrogen peroxide when added to water. Oxygen bleach has the advantage that it is colour safe. If used correctly it should not remove colours or damage the fibres of the fabric.

Both types of bleach require hot water to be most effective.

Tips to Prevent Curry Stains Damaging Your Favourite Garment

There are several ways to avoid getting a curry stain in the first place:

  • Avoid eating curries containing turmeric – there are plenty of other curries that do not contain such potent dyes.
  • Wear a napkin – cover your most expensive garment using a serviette. Any stains or splashes will be caught by the serviette.
  • Don’t wear your favourite clothes to a curry house – save them for safer cuisines.

Final Thoughts

Curry houses now occupy a key position on every high street. The British obsession with curry means you are likely to encounter the risk of a curry stain on at least a semi-regular basis. Curries are a particularly potent stain risk due the curcumin found in turmeric.

When your favourite outfit comes in contact with curry, you must move fast. Try to remove any excess immediately using a knife or spoon. Dab the stain using a damp cloth, but do not wipe the stain around further.

Once you get home you have several choices. The simplest way to wash the stain out is to use normal laundry detergent – soak the garment for 30 minutes in a mix of detergent and cold water before washing it on the highest temperature the fabric car label indicates. Repeat until the stain has been removed.

Off the shelf stain removes are another common way of removing stains – follow the instructions carefully to avoid damage to your clothing.

Bleaches are the most powerful way to remove stains but carry a number of risks. Chlorine based bleach in particular can damage clothing and wash colour from the fabric. Make sure you choose the right bleach for your fabric.

There are of course several ways to avoid getting a curry stain in the first place. The simplest is to avoid curries containing curcumin. There are plenty of other options on the menu. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing your favourite clothing when visiting a curry house.

The most important tip of all – always wear a napkin when eating curry!

Stains may sound scary, but as long as you follow the advice in this article to avoid damaging your favourite clothes or follow the cleaning advice in the event of a stain then your clothes will last for many years to come.

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About the Author: AJ

Ever since the birth of my son (also called AJ!), doing the washing has become a big part of my life. was created to provide tips, guides and recommendations to make life that little bit easier.