No matter how careful you are, tomato sauce always has a sneaky way of making it onto your favorite shirt. It’s like spaghetti can never just stay on your fork, and fries really can’t hold their ketchup. Even when you think you’ve managed to escape a pasta dinner without a single stain, you’ll inevitably find one later. And while it’s possible to get them out, taking on those greasy, orange spots is such a pain, and not every method works as well as you’d like it to.
So, we tested out three different methods of getting out stubborn tomato sauce stains, pitting two internet-popular home remedies against a commercial product dedicated to removing messy food stains. Here’s what we tried:
Method 1: Salt & Baking Soda
Salt and baking soda are two items that just about everyone has on-hand at all times and that frequently come in handy for stain removal, so I was hopeful that this method—the simplest of the home remedies—would win out. For this method, all you need is salt, baking soda, and water. Just mix equal parts of salt and baking soda in a dish, and add a little bit of water to form a paste. After that, rub the paste into the stain, then launder as usual.
Method 2: Dish Detergent, Ice & Vinegar
Another home remedy made up of ingredients everyone has in their pantry (or in this case, freezer, too), this method requires dish detergent, white vinegar and ice. I’ll be honest, this one seemed unnecessarily complicated, but I figured it would work—dish detergent typically works great on greasy stains, and vinegar comes in handy for just about everything. I wasn’t sure what impact the ice would have, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
We tested this method by applying dish detergent to the stain, then rubbing it in with an ice cube. Afterwards, the stain had faded but not fully come out, so we blotted the stain with vinegar and a clean cloth as per the instructions, then laundered as usual.
Method 3: Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater
Up against our two home remedies was Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater (available on Amazon), a stain removing spray marketed as “mom’s ultimate defense for powerful stain removal against stains caused by messy eaters.” It’s specifically designed for food stains—including ketchup and tomato stains—and while I was skeptical, there were positive reviews all over the internet that made me think it just might work. To use Miss Mouth’s stain remover, just spray the product onto the stain, blot it with a clean cloth, and launder as usual.
While all of these methods worked to some degree, there was one clear, stain-free winner that stuck out: Method 2. Our tomato stains were no match for the dish detergent, ice and vinegar combo, which is really not all that surprising—dish detergent is usually my go-to for food stains, and vinegar always seems to fix just about anything.
The baking soda and salt method, which I had similarly high hopes for, was the least effective of the bunch, although it did fade the stain quite a bit. And that leaves Miss Mouth’s Messy Eater Stain Treater squarely in second place—it definitely faded the stain, but didn’t quite get rid of it completely.