How to remove Kool-Aid stains from clothes

Kool-Aid has been around for many years and has been the main culprit for stains not just on children’s clothes but also among adults. The main offender is the notorious cherry flavor but other varieties such as raspberry, strawberry, fruit punch and just about any flavor that is red are difficult to clean. Although some Kool-Aid stains cannot be removed entirely, you can remove some with a little persistence and a variety of cleaning products that you can find at home. Read further to learn how to remove Kool-Aid stains from clothes effectively.

Why are Kool-Aid stains hard to remove?

The reason why Kool-Aid stains are difficult to eliminate on clothes, carpet or upholstery is the presence of dyes. These dyes are responsible for making it colorful and bright, which makes it highly attractive to both children and adults. Sadly, these dyes make any spills bright and difficult to remove.

When dealing with Kool-Aid stains, the initial move is to act rapidly once a spill occurs. Remember that the type of Kool-Aid has an impact on how hard it is to remove. Some of the worst offenders include red, blue, grape and orange variants. Lime and lemon variants do not seem to stain badly on clothing. 

Steps on how to remove Kool-Aid stains from clothes

If you end up with a Kool-Aid stain on your shirt or pants, it is vital to deal with it right away. Let us take a look at the steps in getting rid of these unsightly stains.

  • Run cold water over the stain right away. Ideally, allow water to flow from the back of the garment to prevent the Kool-Aid dye from further lodging into the fabric of the garment. As the water flows, scrub at the back of the fabric using an old toothbrush.
  • You can utilize a variety of products such as a solid stain remover, white vinegar or baking soda. Depending on the product that you will use, soak the garment for a while before washing and check if the stain is completely removed. 
  • Wash the garment in cold water. Check if the stain is completely gone before allowing it to dry. In case the stain lingers, do not put it in the dryer and wash again until the stain is gone. 

How do you get red Kool-Aid out of a white shirt?

When your favorite white shirt was accidentally splashed with Kool-Aid, it can leave behind an undesirable stain, especially the red variant. Let us take a look at the steps on how to remove a red Kool-Aid stain out of your white shirt.

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  1. Allow cold water to flow through the stain right away. It is recommended to do this from the back of the shirt so that Kool-Aid is driven out of the fabric instead of further in. Brush the fabric using an old toothbrush.
  2. Rub a solid stain remover onto the stain if you cannot wash the garment immediately. Once ready to wash the garment, give the stained area an initial soak by spritzing a pre-wash spray for several hours. 
  3. Wash your shirt with the Kool-Aid stain in cold water. Check if the stain is removed before drying it. If a trace of the stain lingers, do not put it in the dryer. 
  4. Sponge white vinegar on the leftover stain. In case sponging cannot get rid the stain, soak the garment in vinegar for a few hours or overnight before repeating Step 3. 
  5. In case the stain lingers after using white vinegar, soak the area in a solution of baking soda and water and wash the garment again.
  6. If the Kool-Aid stain lingers after using baking soda, prepare a paste of powdered fabric bleach and water. Rub this over the site of the stain and leave in place for a few hours. Soak it after in a basin of water with a half cup of powdered bleach. Thoroughly rinse and wash the garment again.

Can Kool-Aid dye clothes?

Kool-Aid is a powder beverage that is available in various flavors where each has a distinct and vivid color. These colors are highly appealing to children and some adults but this appeal covers a wide range. The vibrant colors in Kool-Aid can also be used to naturally dye fabric, yarn as well as other natural fibers. Let us take a look at the steps on how to dye clothes using Kool-Aid.

  • Add 4 cups of water into a pot and allow to boil. 
  • Minimize the heat until the water steadily simmers. 
  • Add 1-3 packets of non-sweetened Kool-Aid. A single packet can produce a light pastel color while 3 packets will result in a darker shade. 
  • Stir the Kool-Aid and water solution until the granules are fully dissolved.
  • Add ¼ cup of white vinegar into the mixture and blend. 
  • Transfer the dye mixture away from the stove and let it rest on a heat-resistant surface.
  • Use the Kool-Aid dye right away. Once it cools down, the dye will lose its potency. 

The Kool-Aid dye works well on natural fibers such as pure cotton, wool, and silk. It is best to soak the fibers for 30 minutes in a solution of warm water and a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. This allows the fabrics to readily accept the dye. 

How do you use Kool-Aid to color?

Kool-Aid can be used to color your hair, especially if you simply want to try out colors temporarily. You can easily prepare a Kool-Aid hair dye.

Simply mix hot water, hair conditioner, and unsweetened Kool-Aid to prepare a dye paste. You can apply this paste to achieve an all-over color or paint streaks of color into your hair. 

For those who want to dip-dye the hair tips, prepare a homemade dye bath instead. Remember that the various colors and amounts of Kool-Aid will produce a variety of results. Do not forget to wear gloves to avoid staining your hands while preparing or applying the dye. 

Final thoughts

Kool-Aid stains are notoriously hard to remove, especially the red variants. If you want to effectively deal with this type of stain, the methods discussed on how to remove Kool-Aid stains from clothes can greatly help. 


Michael René, consultant, is the leading stain removal expert in Denmark. Read about him and the rest of the team here

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