ice cream spilled on carpet

How to Remove Ice Cream Stains

Nothing beats an ice cream on a hot day. Very refreshing and just the thing to cool you down.

However, if you get any of that lovely stuff on your fabrics it can be enough to get you very hot under the collar.

It’s sticky and often quite vividly coloured, so ice cream is very much not what you want to see on your clothes or furniture.

But don’t get your knickerbocker glory in a twist. The ice cream parlour may be parlous, but we’ve got the scoop on a few ways that you can eradicate ice cream from material, so read on and chill out.


What’s the Issue with Ice Cream?

melted blue ice cream in cone

That innocent-looking treat in your hand can spell disaster at times, not least because of what ice cream inevitably does: melt. The drips that then form can ruin a shirt or a sofa in no time at all.

This is especially true of chocolate ice cream, the stainer supreme, but you can also face trouble with other flavours – fruity fiascos and caramel crises abound. And don’t get us started on the threats posed by strawberry and chocolate sauce.

The main problem with ice cream is that it’s what is known as a combination stainer. It’s not just pigment that does the damage. It’s also grease from the milk (and added fat – yum!) and protein. So, a lot going on. But we’ve got this.


How to Get Ice Cream Stains Out of Clothing

If you’ve got to the scene of the spill before too long has elapsed, things will be a lot easier to deal with.

Start by using a blunt knife or spoon to scrape away whatever ice cream is still solidly in evidence. Then blot at the soaked-in stuff with a clean dry white paper towel.

If the stain’s been allowed to dry, plunge your garment into cold water for at least ten minutes. This will dampen the stain and make it easier to remove.

What you do next is as follows.

ice cream stain on shirt

Liquid detergent

Rub a small amount of liquid washing detergent on the stain then leave to soak into the garment for a few minutes. Then rinse add a stain remover and leave for ten minutes. Rinse and repeat if necessary.


Lemon juice

Apply lemon juice to the stained area and leave to do its thing for at least 30 minutes.

After this period, rinse the lemon juice off. This is a wonderfully natural and effective stain remover, but do be careful: lemon juice can have a bleaching effect, so best to use on white clothes only. To be on the safe side, apply a little lemon juice to an inconspicuous test area first.


White vinegar

Use the same method as per lemon juice, using a vinegar solution (1:1 with water). The same caveat applies – white vinegar can bleach, so use with caution. Or you’ll have had your chips.


Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

baking soda for clothing stains

This multi-purpose marvel can clean most things, and ice cream stains are no exception. Make a bicarbonate of soda paste and apply quite liberally to the stain, leaving the paste in place for an hour. Then scrape off and rinse.

Bicarbonate of soda has a mild alkali action, which is great at cutting through grease and fat, which is why ice cream stains can be dispatched relatively easily by this household hero.


Washing-up liquid

One part washing-up liquid in two parts water will produce a solution that’s very effective on ice cream. Apply to the stain and leave for ten minutes. Then dab at it with a soft cloth. Finally, give the garment a rinse.


Rubbing alcohol

Using rubbing alcohol can be a good way of breaking the sticky bonds that ice cream makes with your clothes. Use sparingly though, so it’s a good idea to use a spray bottle.

A 1:1 solution in water will do the trick. Spray on then dab a little with a soft cloth. Then leave for 10 to 15 minutes then rinse.

Good idea to test beforehand, as rubbing alcohol can affect colour on certain fabrics.


Then Wash

machine cold wash

Once you’ve applied one or more of these techniques, you should give your garment a thorough washing.

Whether by machine or hand, you’ll need to use a cool wash (don’t use a hot wash as this might set any residual protein in place and you’ll have a job getting it out after that).

Dry as normal. On this subject, as always with these things, don’t tumble dry unless you’re 100% certain the stain’s gone. Nothing sets a stain like a tumble dryer.


Removing Ice Cream Stains from Carpet

stain remover and ammonia for ice cream carpet stains


You can use the above techniques on carpet, as well as ammonia. Dissolve one tablespoon of ammonia with two cups of cold water and apply it to the stain.

Dab with a cloth until the stain appears to have gone (don’t scrub – this may spread the stain), then apply some cold water to get rid of the ammonia smell.

Talking of smell, make sure you wear a facemask and open the windows – ammonia can issue some nasty fumes.


Carpet stain remover

Of course, you can always go down the shop-bought route. There are some highly effective carpet cleaning sprays available, such as Vanish Oxi Action.


Stone Cold Stain Killers

melted ice cream on cone

It’s amazing how common ice cream stains are. Ice cream vans should really be required to sell bibs with every cone.

Until they do, it’s good to be aware of one or more of these techniques for the next time your cornet turns to carnage.

The truth is, ice cream’s fun but it’s no fun on your clothes or carpet. By using one of these techniques though you’ll stop ice cream in its tracks. That’s right, you’ll have it licked.