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How to Remove Chocolate & Other Candy Stains

‘Tis the season for sugar highs and sticky messes. (Though, for parents of little ones, that may be more a way of life than just a season!) From melty chocolate to sticky suckers and the food coloring in sugary coating, candy is notorious for settling into clothing, carpet, and furniture fibers and staying put. Don’t be scared of these stains haunting your laundry hamper forever. Our cleaning experts at Merry Maids® have effective tricks for treating these stubborn spots.


As with most stains, act as soon as possible when you notice a chocolate stain on clothing, carpet, or upholstery. Start by gently scraping up loose or excess chocolate with a knife or spoon. You can also use the hose of your vacuum, especially on carpet or furniture. Doing this first helps prevent spreading the stain or grinding the chocolate further into the fibers. From there, your course of action will depend on the item.

For chocolate stains on clothing:

  • After scraping off excess chocolate, turn the clothing item inside out and rinse the stain with cold water from the opposite side of the garment. In effect, this will help push the chocolate out of the fibers.

  • Spot-treat the stain with laundry detergent, stain remover, or even liquid dish soap. Gently work into a lather.

  • Soak the clothing item in cold water for 30 minutes or longer. Inspect the garment to see if the stain persists and, if so, lather and soak again.

  • Once the stain is no longer visible, launder as usual. However, you may want to air-dry the first time to ensure the stain is gone. Heat from the dryer will make any remaining residue harder to remove.

For chocolate stains on carpet or upholstery:

  • After scraping or vacuuming away any loose chocolate, mix together 2 cups of lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap.

  • Use a soft-bristle brush or soft cloth to gently apply the soapy mixture to the stain. Be sure to dab rather than rub to prevent spreading the chocolate.

  • Blot the stain with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.

  • Continue applying the soapy water and blotting it dry until the drying cloth no longer picks up chocolate and the stain is no longer visible.

Food Coloring

Even though the slogan claims they don’t melt in your hand, we’ve all experienced stained fingers from food coloring used in candy coating. If you discover the telltale red (or yellow, or green) stains on clothing, here’s what to do.

  • Dab or rinse stain with cold water right away. Avoid hot water, as this can set the stain.

  • If the stain doesn’t rinse away, soak the garment in a solution of cool water and oxygen bleach for 30 minutes or longer. (Follow package instructions for measurements.)

  • Rinse with clean cool water, then wash as usual. If you want to be sure the stain is gone, allow the garment to air dry and inspect for any lingering dye. If the stain was successfully removed, the item can be machine dried next time. If not, repeat the soak-and-launder process.

Hard candy and lollipops

On occasion, half-eaten hard candies, suckers, and peppermints find their way to the ground, whether it’s the living room carpet or the floor of the car. Even worse, this sticky mess can be made messier if someone unknowingly steps on it and grinds it into the fibers.

Remove hard candy from the carpet or floor mat by following these steps:

  • Spritz plain water on the candy to help dissolve the bonded sugar. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also dab the candy with a wet cloth.

  • Use a spoon or butter knife to scrape up the candy. It may take a few moments for the water to dissolve the sugar enough for the candy to dislodge easily.

  • Apply stain remover to eliminate leftover candy residue or dye. Enzyme cleaners intended for pet stains work well here, though you can use any store-bought carpet cleaners. If you don’t have a stain remover, dab the stain with distilled white vinegar.

  • Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth to lift the stain.

  • Once the stain has been eliminated, rinse away any remaining carpet cleaner by dabbing the area with a clean, damp cloth.

  • Remove any excess moisture by blotting again with a dry cloth, then allow the area to dry.


Anyone who has stepped in gum on the sidewalk knows just how difficult it is to get rid of the gooey mess. But what happens when you find gum on your clothes? There are a number of methods to try, but here are a couple of our favorites.

Hot vinegar: In the microwave or on the stove, carefully heat about a cup of vinegar until just below boiling. Then, using a toothbrush, apply the hot vinegar to the gum on the garment and scrub. Continue this process, reheating the vinegar as necessary, until the gum is completely removed, then launder the clothing item as usual.

Freeze and scrape: Fold the clothing item, taking care to keep the stuck-on gum facing out and away from the rest of the fabric, then place in the freezer. (Place the garment on top of or inside a plastic bag to limit contact with other items in the freezer—just don’t let the gum stick to the bag.) Let it sit for at least two hours to allow the gum to fully harden, then take the garment out of the freezer and immediately scrape or peel off the gum using a spoon or butter knife. If the gum begins to thaw before you’re able to completely remove it, place an ice cube in a plastic bag and let it sit on the gum for a few minutes to re-freeze.


What do you do when that picture-perfect caramel apple lands on the dining room rug? Caramel stains pack a one-two punch of greasy butter and sticky sugar, so the sooner you can address them the better.

  • As with other candy stains, use a spoon or butter knife to scrape up as much caramel from the floor as you can, especially if the caramel has hardened. If the caramel is still soft, use a clean, wet cloth to help remove it.

  • Create a soapy solution of 1 cup lukewarm water and one teaspoon of liquid dish soap or non-bleach laundry detergent. Use a clean cloth and blotting motion to apply the mixture to the caramel spot.

  • Combine one part vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle, then mist the stained area. Blot with a clean, dry cloth to lift the stain and repeat until it’s gone.

  • Lightly spray with plain water to rinse away any remaining soap or vinegar residue, then blot dry with a clean, dry cloth.

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