How to Clean Common Stains From Thanksgiving Dinner

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without full stomachs and stains on clothing and tablecloths. Unfortunately, the side dishes and accompaniments that make the meal so delicious can create smears, splashes and smudges that are hard to remove. To preserve your holiday best, our tips detail how to remove stains from Thanksgiving dinner for everything from cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes. 

Banishing Stains From Thanksgiving Dinner: A How-To Guide

There are few eating and drinking celebrations that don’t result in some stains, and Thanksgiving is no exception. With some quick action and spot-specific treatments, you can remove stains from Thanksgiving dinner using our best laundry tricks and tips.

Cranberry Stains

One of the most common Thanksgiving stains has to be cranberry sauce. Regrettably,  this ubiquitous holiday berry can leave a permanent mark if not treated correctly. Follow these simple tips to learn how to remove cranberry stains:

  1. Flush away any pieces of cranberry with cool water.
  2. Mix a solution of ½ tsp laundry detergent, 1 Tbsp white vinegar and 1 qt water.
  3. Soak fabric in the solution for 15 minutes.
  4. If the spot is still visible, soak it in a small amount of rubbing alcohol and flush the area with cool water.
  5. Machine wash on a regular cycle with hot water and chlorine or color-safe bleach.
  6. Make sure the stain is gone before placing in the dryer.
stains from Thanksgiving dinner


Drips and dribbles from gravy are par for the course on this day devoted to turkey. But knowing how to remove grease stains from clothes can take a few extra steps to be effective. The best way to remove gravy stains from clothes is to pretreat them with an enzyme-based spray or detergent. Allow the pre-treatment to soak for at least 10-15 minutes.

After soaking, machine wash with hot water and chlorine bleach, if the fabric allows. Use color-safe bleach for colored fabrics, repeating these steps before drying to prohibit the stain from setting. You see, gravy stain removal from clothes is easy when you know the right steps to take!

Red Wine

Though red wine can sully clothing on any day, these red splashes are common stains from Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately, some fast action and proper washing can make for effective red wine stain removal:

  1. Gently blot away as much liquid as you can, being careful to avoid scrubbing.
  2. Soak the spot in cool water for 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-treat with a laundry stain remover, allowing it to soak for at least 10-15 minutes.
  4. Machine wash with chlorine bleach for white fabrics or color-safe bleach for colored materials.
red wine stain removal


Beet stains are among the most difficult to remove, as the vegetable’s red dye can quickly leave a permanent mark. Here’s how to remove beet stains with some rapid pre-treatment:

  1. Blot the stain with a clean paper towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.
  2. Flush the stain under a stream of cold running water.
  3. Treat with an enzyme-based stain remover, allowing it to soak for at least 15 minutes.
  4. If even a trace of red color remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cool water and submerge the stain for 8 hours.
  5. Machine wash as usual.

Sweet Potato

Stains from sweet potato may seem benign but these bright orange spots are prone to linger if not treated correctly. Here’s how to remove this Thanksgiving staple from clothes and tablecloths:

  1. Scrape off any remaining pieces of sweet potato.
  2. Turn the fabric inside out and hold under running water to flush out the stain.
  3. Pretreat with a laundry stain remover, allowing it to soak for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Machine wash with hot water and chlorine or color-safe bleach.
stains from sweet potatoes


Even if you escaped stains from Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pie is bound to land somewhere during dessert. Much like sweet potato, pumpkin can be removed by scraping off any lingering pieces and rinsing the fabric under cold running water. Pretreat with a laundry stain remover and wash on a regular cycle with hot water and the appropriate bleach for the fabric.

The experts at Conner’s Appliance can help with more than just washer and dryer repair. Check out our laundry room organization guide for more helpful washing and drying tips.

Anna Conner

Anna Conner