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How to Get Rid of Turmeric Stains on Your Dishes, Linens, Counters, and Fingers

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You made a batch of turmeric tea to chase away a cold and poured the golden mixture into a favorite, pale-colored mug. Or you served turmeric soup in a white bowl, or wiped up a slick of curry with a light dish towel, or peeled fresh turmeric for a smoothie. And now your linens, your dishes, your countertop, and your hands all match your recipe: gold.

Fresh or dried and ground, turmeric will stain just about anything, and quickly and stubbornly. Stop what you're doing and act quickly. With a little elbow grease (and a few chemicals), that stain'll be out of there in no time.

N.B.: You may need to repeat these processes for the stain to be completely removed.

You're trouble, turmeric! But so worth it.
You're trouble, turmeric! But so worth it. Photo by Mark Weinberg


Plastic, glass, or glazed ceramics will respond well to a mild bleach solution. Soak the stained vessel in a 2-to-1 hot water-to-bleach solution: For example, a stained mug should be filled with 2/3 cup hot water and have 1/3 cup bleach added. If you're hesitant to use bleach, use pure white vinegar. Let the solution soak in the dish overnight, then wash with soap and water. (This is a good way to get traces of turmeric-yellow out of your food processor, blender, or juicer!)

Photo by Mark Weinberg


How you treat the stain will depend on what your countertop is made of. In most cases, however, a paste made of equal parts water and baking soda will do wonders: Make the paste, apply it to the countertop, and let it sit about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off.

Lemon juice or white vinegar will also help—as will a scrub with a Magic Eraser (or similar product. Note that Magic Erasers are essentially very, very fine sandpaper, and a vigorous scrub with them may remove some of the gloss from your countertop).

The Hotline recommends using the cleaning powder Bar Keeper's Friend, while in another forum, on Chowhound, Bon Ami is king. Sprinkle the powder onto a damp rag and scrub the area.

Others say neglect is the best treatment: Sunlight will fade the stains eventually (though may not eliminate them completely).

How to Remove Berry Stains
How to Remove Berry Stains


The same technique we use for eliminating berry stains will also work for turmeric!

If the stain is oil-based and still wet—say, from a curry—wipe off as much as you can, and then sprinkle a bit of cornstarch, baking soda, or flour onto the stain; this will help draw the oil out of the fabric. Leave for 20 minutes, then proceed with our berry stain-removing method, or scrub with laundry detergent and hot water.

For linens that are completely white, feel free to do all of the above and wash the linen with bleach in hot water.

Hands and fingernails

Rub your hands with lemon juice or a bit of hydrogen peroxide—or soak your fingernails in a small, shallow bowl of it. Between soaks, wash your hands with hot, soapy water. And for persistent stains, especially on your fingernails, scrub with a toothbrush. It may take a couple of days for these stains to go away completely.

Now, make these without fear:

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Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens

Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens by Medha | Farm on Plate

Share your best stain-lifting techniques—for turmeric and otherwise—in the comments.

Tags: Laundry, Spice, Tips & Techniques, Ingredients