How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Carpets, Clothes, Skin, Counters - Anything!

  • Apr 11

Kool-Aid. If you’re like me, it reminds you of summer afternoons spent by a lake in the woods, cicadas singing in the shimmering heat while you doze in the sun. There was always a sweating pitcher of refreshing, fruity elixir on a table nearby.

Of course, if you’re a parent, Kool-Aid means something else: stains. Even a tiny amount of Kool-Aid (or any dyed drink), can leave a bright, unmistakable mark on clothes, couches, even skin! If you don’t want your kids and home going through life looking like an industrial accident at a tie-dye factory, make sure you always have some emergency stain treatment to use as a stain remover nearby. 

Just in case you didn’t plan in advance for your kids to stain everything with fruit punch, though, here are a few easy, at-home hacks for getting Kool-Aid stains out of almost anything.

Does Kool-Aid stain?

It sure does. Kool-Aid and most other popular fruit punches contain dyes that provide vibrant, eye-catching colors. Those wild reds, blues, and greens are part of what makes fruit punch so appealing to kids (and chill adults who like to have fun), but they also make bright, tough-to-remove stains. 

The worst Kool-Aid stain offenders are the brightest - red, orange, purple, blue. If one of those ends up in a puddle on your floor, upholstery, clothes, or couch it can leave a vivid blotch. 

Perhaps surprisingly, there are some flavors - Lemon-Lime, and Lemonade among them - that not only don’t stain most surfaces, but that might actually help you clean! That’s because the citric acid that makes those tart is also a safe, natural cleaner. It’s so tough that it can kill bacteria, remove soap scum, and is even used as a parts cleaner in some auto shops. 

Think twice before trying to use lemonade Kool-Aid powder as a Kool-Aid stain remover though - citric acid can also have a bleaching effect on fabrics. Instead, if you don’t have a ready to use treatment on hand, follow our tips below.

Are Kool-Aid stains permanent?

Most stains are permanent if you don’t treat them. That’s what makes them stains! Because of the dyes, Kool-Aid stains can be particularly stubborn, especially if you don’t treat them right away. What’s more, not every common product or method is an effective Kool-Aide stain remover.  

Beware of just tossing stained fabrics into the laundry. While some less persistent stains can be treated with a simple wash, machine drying can also set stains, and make them impossible to remove. Even when using the methods below, check fabrics before putting them in the dryer to make sure the stain is gone.

With that in mind, let’s learn how to get Kool-Aid stains out of clothes and carpet, and off skin and countertops if you don’t have any stain remover ready.

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Clothes

Before we get started, check your clothing label. If it’s dry clean only, blot as much of the stain as you can, and then take the article of clothing to a professional cleaner. Then make a promise to yourself to never again wear your fancy clothes to a Kool-Aid party.

Here’s What You Need to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Clothes:

  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Water

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Clothes:

  1. Blot up as much of the stain as possible with paper towels. Do not scrub! You’re trying to lift the stain gently away, not erase it like a pencil mark.
  2. Cover the stain in laundry detergent.
  3. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse with cold water.
  5. If the stain isn’t gone, create a paste using 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water.
  6. Let sit for another 15 minutes.
  7. Rinse the article, then launder in cold water and air dry.
  8. If the stain is still there, repeat these steps.

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Off Skin

Here’s a fun fact: toothpaste isn’t just for cleaning teeth. Used properly, toothpaste can also be an effective Kool-Aid stain remover. You can also use it to get light scratches out of your car’s paint, but that’s another article. Toothpaste! Is there anything it can’t do?

Here’s What You Need to Get Kool-Aid Stains Off of Skin:

  • Toothpaste (if you have whitening toothpaste, even better!)
  • A washcloth

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Off of Skin:

  1. If the stains are on your hands, wash your hands just like you normally would, but using toothpaste instead of hand soap.
  2. If the stain is somewhere else on your body (stuff happens, we’re not judging you), add some toothpaste to a damp washcloth and gently dab the area. 
  3. Rinse the stained area with cool water
  4. Enjoy how minty fresh you are.

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Carpet

We ask a lot of our carpets. The least we can do is try to keep them clean. Sometimes, though, life happens, and someone drops a full jug of Kool-Aid square in the middle of the family room. When that happens, you’ve got a couple of options: You can rearrange the entire room so the sectional cuts diagonally across it, covers the stain, and destroys any sense of flow and serenity. Or, you can follow these simple steps to make a Kool-Aid stain remover that will clean your carpet and keep you sane. Your choice.

Before we begin, keep in mind that you want to only use as much liquid as is absolutely necessary. Don’t soak your carpet or upholstery with your cleaning solution. That’s how you get mildew!

Also: Before moving on to step 2, spot test a hidden area of the carpet or upholstery. Ammonia can damage some fabrics, so be cautious using it!

Here’s What You Need to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Carpet:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Cold water
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • White cloth towels (You might end up using a lot for this. Any cloth towel will work, but white is best because it lets you see that you’re lifting the stain)

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Out of Carpet and Upholstery:

  1. Mix two cups cold water, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  2. Wet (but not too wet!) a white cloth towel with this Kool-Aid stain remover solution, and sponge the stain with it.
  3. If you ignored the warning to spot test a discrete patch of carpet, experience a brief twinge of anxiety. 
  4. Continue blotting until the liquid is absorbed and the surface is as dry as possible.
  5. Repeat until as much of the stain is removed as you think is possible.
  6. Get plain cold water and a new towel.
  7. Blot the spot to remove the cleaning solution, then blot to dry.
  8. Is the Kool-Aid stain gone? If yes, stop here and celebrate with a tall glass of something you didn’t spill. If no, move on to step 9.
  9. Using yet another cloth towel, blot the stain with rubbing alcohol until it doesn’t look like any more is going to come up.
  10. Use cold water and another clean towel to blot away the rubbing alcohol. Then blot dry.
  11. Are you a successful Kool-Aid stain remover? Stop here if the stain is gone, but if it isn’t, it’s time for the big guns.
  12. Mix two cups of cold water, a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and a tablespoon of ammonia. Remember to do a colorfastness test on your surface before proceeding.
  13. Using a (you guessed it!) clean towel, sponge the stain with this new solution. 
  14. Once the stain is listed, blot with cold water to remove the cleaning solution, then blot to dry.
  15. Take a nap. You earned it!

As a special bonus, this method will also help you get Kool-Aid stains out of furniture and upholstery.

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains Off of Counters

Unlike the other stains we’ve talked about, this one probably happened when you made the Kool-Aid, rather than because of an accident. That doesn’t make a countertop stain any less obnoxious or tough to deal with though! Like any of the rest of these Kool-Aid stains, you want to deal with them as quickly as possible.

What You Need to Get Kool-Aid Stains Off of Counters:

  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Toothpaste
  • Bleach (ideally in spray form)

How to Get Kool-Aid Stains off Kitchen Counters:

  1. Wipe the area with a damp towel.
  2. Make the same 3-and-1 Kool-Aid stain remover out of baking soda and water from the clothing section above.
  3. Cover the stain with the paste and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe away. If the stain is still there, move on to steps 5-8.
  5. Gently scrub the area with some toothpaste on a damp paper towel.
  6. In extreme situations, try laundry bleach or spray bleach, but be careful: bleach can wreck what you’re wearing and discolor your counter. 
  7. Put a small amount of bleach to the area, and let it sit for 5 minutes. 
  8. Rinse the area with a wet towel, then dry.

Now You’re a Master Kool-Aid Stain Remover

Congratulations! You’ve managed to keep the stains at bay for now. Of course you know as well as I do that fruit punch stains are just one of the many blots, blotches, smudges, and specks you deal with. Keep an eye on the Hate Stains blog for more tips, tricks, and home hacks for dealing with life’s little (and not so little) messes. 

Also, if you don’t want to have to improvise a Kool-Air stain remover on short notice, make sure you always have some kind of emergency stain treatment on hand, for when the unexpected happens.


Contributing Writer: Forest Lee