How Can I Remove a Washed in Mustard Stain From a White Cotton Shirt?

The key to successfully removing mustard stains is acting fast.

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Summertime is chock full of picnics, barbecues and many other social activities that almost always involve food. With so much time spent eating hot dogs or burgers off paper plates while sitting in a less-than-sturdy lawn chair, you are bound to experience a spill or two (or 20). One of the most difficult stains to remove is mustard because of the turmeric, which gives mustard its bright yellow color. As with any stain, the key to successfully removing mustard from your T-shirt is acting fast. (That doesn't mean that you have to take your shirt off while you're still at the picnic!)

Blot or Scrape

If you've managed to catch the stain while it's still fresh (that is, not yet dry and crusty), wet an old white cloth with cold water, and gently blot the mustard stain until you've removed as much of the mustard as possible. Whatever you do, don't rub the stain, as this will cause the mustard to spread, and you'll end up dealing with an even bigger mess. If the mustard has already dried, use a dull butter knife to scrape off as much of the dried mustard as possible.


Combine 3 tablespoons of dish detergent with 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and mix well. Place your white T-shirt on an old towel to absorb any of the stain that is released from the shirt. Apply the detergent solution to the stain, and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse well with hot water, and repeat if any traces of the mustard stain remain. It'll all be worth it when you can tell your friends and family that you fought the mustard -- and won.


Place your T-shirt in the washer by itself (after all, you don't want a whole load of whites with yellow spots in case what's left of the stain runs). Add 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach and your regular laundry detergent. Wash on the hottest setting possible. If you normally wash your shirt on hot, then choose the hot water setting. If you're concerned about your shirt shrinking, choose the warm setting.

Air Dry

Lay your shirt flat to air-dry. You don't want to put your shirt in the dryer until you are absolutely positive that the mustard stain is a distant memory, since the heat from the dryer will set the stain permanently, and then you'll be stuck with yet another dusting rag (and how often do you dust really?). Once the shirt is dry, inspect it for any traces of mustard. If the stain is gone, you've won. If any of the stain remains, you may want to try dabbing a small amount of full-strength bleach directly to what's left of the stain. Let it sit for several minutes, then rinse well and wash your shirt again.

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