Who doesn’t love Halloween?! Nothing is better than getting free candy, am I right? As an adult I still love Halloween because now I get to hand out treats to all the little ones (and some not so little ones from time to time). But, along with all the tasty joy that this holiday brings, Halloween also brings its fair share of stains that you might have to contend with—be it at a Halloween party or on the eve of Hallows itself.  So, we’re going to tackle chocolate stains, candy stains, pumpkin stains, and Halloween makeup stains!

Before We Get Started

A few quick things to remember:

  1. Catch the stain as fast as you can, the quicker you deal with it, the more likely you are to permanently tackle it.
  2. If you are going to treat a garment stain, lay a towel in between the front and back of the garment to avoid the stain leaking through and transferring onto the other side of the garment.
  3. Tumble drying will set a stain if it is not removed, so hang garments to dry and ensure the stain is gone.  If not, re-treat or soak in Oxygen Bleach if possible.
  4. To prevent stains on the floor when kids dump all their candy out, lay a garbage bag down first.

How to Remove Chocolate Stains

Chocolate stains contain sugars, dyes, fats and cream, and can be a pretty tricky stain if you don’t know where to begin. So, to begin, gently scrape off any hardened bits of chocolate off using a credit card or butter knife – any flat edge should work.  The less chocolate you have to treat, the better, so this is an important first step. This will also work for caramel stains.

Then, pre-treat the stain by adding dish soap to the area, or laundry detergent, whatever you have handy.  Let this soak for 10 minutes or so and then launder as usual, in cool water.

If the stain persists, make a solution of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to one part dish soap and leave that on for an hour or so, or if possible, soak the garment in oxygen bleach and then re-wash until the stain is gone – and remember, you may need to repeat this step.

How to Remove Hard Candy Stains

If hard candy is the culprit,  pick off any bits of candy first and then use a bit of vinegar and warm water and rinse the stained area. To be safe, you can also add some stain pre-treater and let soak in for 5 minutes and then launder as usual.

If the stain persists, which you’ll likely find with red stains, soak in oxygen bleach for 30 minutes and then re-wash.

How to Remove Pumpkin Stains

This stain is the easiest to remove, thankfully.  Simply remove any bits of pumpkin that remain on the garment, and run under cool water.  Then, pre-treat the stain with dish soap, laundry detergent or a stain pre-treater, leave for 5 minutes and then launder in cool water.  Air dry and re-wash until the stain is gone.

Halloween Makeup Stains

This is where things can get difficult.  Really difficult.  You see, a lot of Halloween makeup is cheap, grease or oil based, and full of dyes which are sometimes really difficult to remove, sometimes even impossible.

Always start by reading the package – even if the package says it is water washable, it still may not be able to come out (they always have that disclaimer), so don’t wear anything too special.
If your makeup is oily, waxy or greasy, begin by removing as much of it as you can with a blunt knife or dab it up with a paper towel in a pressing motion, not a rubbing motion.

Many people talk about using makeup remover on the stain.  You can try this, however, makeup remover can be oily.  If you wish to do this, use the makeup remover on a paper towel and blot.  If there is an oily mark remaining, pre-treat with dish soap and launder as usual.

You can also try rubbing alcohol to remove these stains.  Start by testing the garment in a hidden area or seam first to ensure there are no color fastness issues, and if after a few minutes you notice no change, you can apply the rubbing alcohol directly to the stain by dabbing some of it onto a paper towel, and blotting until the paper towel won’t remove the stain anymore. Then, pre-treat with hydrogen peroxide and dish soap (our homemade stain remover) and launder as usual in cold water.

Hang to dry and check to see if the stain is gone. Repeat if necessary.

That’s all! Happy Halloween!


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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.