Friday night is homemade pizza night in our house, which means it’s also tomato sauce stain night! Tomato sauce stains are stubborn, the tomato contains tannin, and it does a tremendous job of staining clothes, especially the white shirts. Once you learn how to get tomato sauce out of clothes, you can enjoy your meal just a bit more. I’ll show you some of the methods that work best for me and how to remove tomato sauce stains that have set in. 

How To Get Tomato Sauce Out of Clothes 

As soon as you notice a tomato sauce stain, remove as much of the sauce as you can with a spoon or even a butter knife. Rinse the clothing well in cold water to pre soak the stain. 

Sometimes this will be all that you need; however, before the clothing goes in the wash, I like to put vinegar and Dawn dish soap solution on the stain. For an average size stain, take a teaspoon of vinegar, pour it on, and put a few drops of Dawn on top. Rub this in, throw the clothing in the wash, and continue this process until the stain is removed. Don’t put the clothing in the dryer until all of your tomato sauce comes out of the clothing. 

Alternative Methods to Get Tomato Sauce Stains Out of Clothes 

Quick action and pre-treatment are your two key phrases to remember when looking to remove tomato sauce stains. The quicker you deal with this, the easier your life will be. The good news is, sometimes, just a cold water rinse is all you will need. If that doesn’t work, these additional stain fighting solutions for tomato sauce could be a good fit. 

Method 1: Baking Soda Paste

The baking soda method is efficient and can work on tomato stains that are set in. 

  1. Rinse the stain with cold water.
  2. On the remaining stain, pour a paste that is equal parts baking soda and water onto the stain 
  3. It’s best to rub the stain a bit with a toothbrush or your fingers 
  4. Rinse with cold water and repeat until the stain is gone. 

Method 2: White Vinegar 

White vinegar has a strong smell but tremendous stain-fighting power. My trick here is to mix with a little detergent or soap to mask the vinegar smell. 

  1. Rinse your tomato sauce stains with cold water.
  2. Pour a teaspoon of white vinegar and a few drops of dish soap on the tomato sauce. 
  3. Scrub the stain by hand. 
  4. Put through a regular wash cycle with liquid detergent and like colors. 

Method 3: Liquid Laundry Detergent

You can pre-treat a stain with liquid detergent to make it easier to remove tomato sauce stains as the clothing goes through the wash. 

  1. Rinse the tomato stain with cold water. 
  2. Pour a little detergent onto a paper towel or clean cloth. 
  3. Rub detergent into the stain. 
  4. Rinse with cold water and repeat before putting it in the washing machine. 

Method 4: Lemon Juice

Use lemon juice on white clothing as it can be a mild bleaching agent. This can be a good solution for tomato stains that occur in the restaurant. 

  1. Pour cold water on the stained portion of the clothing.
  2. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the tomato stain 
  3. Allow the lemon juice to sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Rinse the stained area with cool water and place in the wash. 

Method 5: Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful stain fighter; I even use this in my plastic containers to get that orange tomato sauce stain removed. 

  1. Remove all excess sauce from the clothing. 
  2. Pour a little hydrogen peroxide on the stained area. 
  3. Then place an ice cube on the clothing and rub the fabric gently with the ice cube 
  4. If the stain remains, add a little baking soda to the area and repeat the process. 

Method 6: Commercial Laundry Detergents and Stain Fighters

If you don’t want to use any of my natural methods for removing tomato based stains, you have plenty of commercial choices out there. Here are a few of my favorites. 

  • OxiClean: I like to use the spray stain remover and keep it in my laundry room; you can also use the powder version, as it will help scrub the clothing a bit. 
  • Tide Stain Remover Stick: If you are heading out for dinner at an Italian restaurant, keep one of these stain remover sticks in your pocket. 
  • Eco-Friendly Stain Remover: The Smart Sheep Stain Stick is an all-natural method stain remover stick that works as a pre-wash treatment for tomato stains.  

Washing Tomato Sauce Stained Clothing 

Machine settings and drying instructions: Whether it was spaghetti sauce or tomato soup that got you, make sure that you are smart about the wash settings when removing tomato stains. 

  • Wash and rinse with cold water only 
  • Use a regular, not a quick, wash to give the stain ample time in the detergent water 
  • Wash with like colors 
  • Never put clothing with tomato stains into the dryer; work on stain removal first. 

How to Deal With a Set In Tomato Sauce Stain? 

When you remove tomato stains right away, the process is so much easier. However, I have saved quite a few pieces of clothing following this method for set-in stains. 

  1. Rinse the set in tomato stains with cold water
  2. Lay the clothing out flat and sprinkle baking soda directly on it
  3. Take an old toothbrush and put Dawn dish soap and water on the toothbrush
  4. Scrub the stain for a few minutes and then put it through the wash 
  5. Repeat this process (without putting the shirt in the dryer) until the tomato stain releases; depending on the severity of the stain, it often takes me two to three cycles for it to go away completely. 


Will Dawn remove tomato stains?

Dawn will remove tomato stains, but it often works best with a cold water rinse and a bit of baking soda or vinegar mixed in to help release the stain. If you treat a stain immediately, Dawn may remove the tomato stain completely without even having to put it through the wash. 

Is tomato sauce hard to get out of clothes?

Tomato sauce is only hard to get out of clothes when it sets into the fabric fibers. Rinse tomato stains from either tomato juice or tomato sauces immediately with cold water, especially when it is on white clothes. 

What is the best stain remover for tomato sauce?

The best stain remover for tomato sauce is a vinegar and Dawn dish soap solution. Use this as a pre-treatment before putting it in the washing machine on a cold cycle.


Britt Olizarowicz