Mustard: it’s one of the most popularly enjoyed condiments, rival only to ketchup. From burgers to bratwurst, it brightens barbeque favourites with a quick zip of tart goodness. Behind-the-scenes, it adds depth to vinaigrettes, glazes and rubs. Yep, mustard is beloved – except when it stains. With just a quick drip, mustard can create a stubborn blemish. You’ll want to act fast because these yellow stains set quick.
   

Why is mustard yellow, anyway?

Contrary to what you might think, mustard is not yellow by default, nor is its colour thanks entirely to mustard seeds. In fact, mustard seeds come in a variety of shades: brown, black and yellow. Instead, the traditional American variety derives that sunny disposition from its turmeric additive. (It’s the same reason curries are associated with a golden hue.) Turmeric spice contains a small but intense concentration of tannin which binds colour to other compounds. Fun fact: turmeric can be used as a natural food dye – but it’s not-so-fun in the form of unintentional food stains.
   

What you’ll need to remove yellow mustard stains

  • Paper towel
  • Cold, running water
  • A high-performance stain remover
  • Laundry detergent (recommended: Tru Earth)
  • Optional/last resort: Colour-safe bleach

  
How to remove yellow mustard stains in 6 easy steps

Step 1: Identify the fabric type. Inspect the garment care label to note the delicacy of the textile and how it should be laundered.  

Step 2: Wipe any excess mustard from the garment. Then, blot with a clean, absorbent paper product like a paper towel or napkin. Take exceptional care not to rub the mustard deeper into the fiber of the textile or accidently transfer it onto another part of the garment. If the mustard has dried, use a blunt tool (like a butter knife) to gently lift any caked-on debris.

Step 3: Turn the garment inside out and rinse cold water through the stain so that any bleeding runs off the item instead of trickling down it (which could create a larger stain.) This will dilute the physical remnants of the mustard, however, it will leave a yellow hue behind.

Step 4: Pre-treat the stain. Apply a high-performance stain remover to the blemish and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.

How to create a concentrated stain remover with Tru Earth eco-laundry strips: First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add two teaspoons (10ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the mustard from the fabric.  

Step 5: Time to wash. If the garment is machine-washable, toss it in the washer alongside a Tru Earth laundry eco-strip. Otherwise, hand-wash the item by tearing the strip, placing the pieces in a sink or basin, and filling with water. Allow it to soak and then agitate the article and rinse.

Step 6: Inspect the stain. Has it resolved? If not, repeat the stain treatment in step 4 and launder again. If the stain is difficult to see on wet, coloured textiles, hang to dry and then inspect.

Special note: Only place the garment in the dryer if you are finished stain treating; the heat of the machine will “set” any remaining stains.
    

How to treat ultra-stubborn mustard stains

You’ve treated, laundered and treated, laundered again but the yellow shadow of a mustard stain still lurks.

What now?

Unfortunately, there are few “gentle” solutions for treating stubborn mustard stains and commercially available options may contain ingredients that Tru Earth prides itself on being free of. These products are often sold in in plastic containers. That said, fashion waste is a major climate issue and we encourage everyone to attempt to extend the life of their textiles.

Option 1: Soak your stained item in cold water with some colour-safe bleach (if your garment can tolerate it and always test for colourfastness first). Rinse. Wash as instructed above. 

Option 2: Call in expert help and take the garment to the dry cleaners.