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So 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, but take a deep breath—it's going to be okay.
The most important step in this (and any) stain removal is to stop what you're doing and act quickly. You’ve got the best chance to reverse the damage within the first drop of a Thai flat noodle on your shirt. With a little elbow grease and a few household ingredients, that stain'll be out of there in no time.
This is your go-to method for plastic, glass, or glazed ceramics. Stained lunch containers don’t stand a chance.
- 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.
- Wash with soap and water. (This is also a good way to get traces of turmeric-yellow out of your food processor, blender, or juicer!)
Countertops Four Ways
Most of these methods are safe for natural stone countertops, but can be a bit abrasive, so be careful not to scuff them up as you go. If you’re unsure about experimenting with such an expensive item in your home, this is a great reference.
Method One: Baking Soda Paste
- Make a paste of one part water to one part baking soda.
- Apply it to the countertop, and let it sit about 15 minutes before scrubbing it off.
- Add lemon juice or white vinegar for extra scrubbing power.
Method Two: Magic Eraser
Scrub gently with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or similar product) for as long as it takes to get the stain removed. 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.
Method Three: Bar Keeper’s Friend
Method Four: Ignorance is Bliss
Some say neglect is the best treatment: Sunlight will fade the stains eventually (though may not eliminate them completely). If you're able to go with the flow like this, power to you.
- If the stain is oil-based and still wet—say, from a curry—wipe off as much as you can.
- Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch, baking soda, or flour onto the stain and leave for 20 minutes; this will help draw the oil out of the fabric.
- Submerge the stained part of the fabric in a bowl of white vinegar for about an hour. Apple cider vinegar also works well, but it will leave your fabric with a yellow tinge.
- Wring out the fabric. If the stain remains, apply non-gel whitening toothpaste to the area and rub, rub, rub!
- Rinse well and remove excess water. Repeat as needed.
As an alternative to the flour and vinegar method, go ahead and scrub with your favorite laundry detergent and water, rinse and repeat. For linens that are completely white, feel free to do all of the above and wash the linen with bleach in hot water.
By the way, this is the same technique we use for eliminating berry stains!
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.
- For persistent stains, especially on your fingernails, scrub with a toothbrush.
Disclaimer: it may take a couple of days for these stains to go away completely. What can we say? Turmeric is stubborn.
Share your best stain-lifting techniques—for turmeric and otherwise—in the comments.
This article originally appeared on January 14, 2016. We’re re-running it because turmeric is always wreaking havoc in our kitchens.