As much as I value tumeric for its rumoured cancer-battling qualities, I find its tendency to stain anything it comes into contact with (including 'stainless' steel) discouraging to the point that I use it much less than I would like.

In a previous question regarding a tumeric-stained marble mortar and pestle, it was recommended that bleach be used to remove the stain. Is this recommendation applicable across the board? Pots? Pans? Plastic colanders?

I hope there is some other way to remove these stains because I am starting to accrue tumeric stained clothing that I can't bleach, as recommended.

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    Cancer-battling qualities? I use it for its yellow-coloring qualities. (And flavor of course). Commented May 31, 2011 at 20:50
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    For a mortar and pestle, I wouldn't worry about it. As long as you're not mashing up medicines in it (thanks a lot mom) the residue isn't a big deal. Mine is a complex arrangement of every dry herb, seed, bean, and nut known to man. It forms a nice patina, though if your mother uses it later to grind up horse meds, you should throw it away (no matter how expensive it had been. goddamnitsomuch). Commented May 31, 2011 at 21:54
  • @Sobachatina if tumeric wasn't being hyped as an anti-oxidant I would never use it, because of its yellow-colouring qualities.
    – Doug
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 2:53
  • Aside - one almost certainly won't be able to remove stains after microwaving plastic in contact with an oily dish which contained a highly powered colorant such as turmeric or paprika.
    – zanlok
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 7:24

6 Answers 6


For hard, chemical-resistant surfaces such as marble, bleach or peroxide cleaners will help. On things like counters, pots and pans, a Magic Eraser will often take off the stain. Sometimes a harsher abrasive like Comet or Barkeep's Friend will be needed.

Softer or porous materials, including cloth and many plastics often CANNOT BE UNSTAINED. In my kitchen we treat turmeric like a dangerous chemical -- isolate, contain, and plan ahead to limit exposure. It's just that destructive.

You might as well tie-dye or bleach white any clothing you get turmeric on; it India it is used as a dye for saris because it will semi-permanently tint cloth. You can brush off the dry powder harmessly, but when it is moistened and allowed to sit for a moment, the color is pretty much permanent.

Edit: UV+peroxide: I saw a patent for removing turmeric stains from upholstery using UV light and hydrogen peroxide. You might try soaking fabrics in peroxide or Oxyclean (which uses peroxide) and leaving then out in the sun. Can't hurt right?

Edit: strategies to manage turmeric without making a mess

  1. Plan ahead where you'll use it, and which utensils and vessels will hold it, so you don't mess up anything you don't need to.
  2. Re-use already turmeric-stained items so you don't wreck anything new
  3. Mortars and pestles, tupperware, wooden and soft plastic utensils are a lost cause. At least the stain is purely cosmetic?
  4. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wear an apron.
  5. Keep spilt powder dry (it won't stain) and brush it off with a paper towel into the garbage. Brushing away promptly keeps you from inadvertently spilling liquid on it, or wiping it with a wet towel during cleanup. That is, unless you want a neon-green counter and towel?
  6. Whenever you spill something containing turmeric, promptly wipe it off, to reduce staining.
  7. Hard ceramic and porcelain are immune to staining unless the surface is rough. Try to use these for storage. Glass will stain. Stainless steel is resistant but not immune.

With these strategies, I find I can use turmeric regularly without problems.

  • Having learned to remove turmeric stains from clothing from Indian folk wisdom found online, I recommend leaving the items out in the sun until the color turns slightly pinkish, then washing normally. Peroxide might help, as well, but I've never needed it once the color turned to something other than bright yellow.
    – JasonTrue
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 16:22
  • Anonymous commenter: "*Put/hang stained dishes/clothes outside in the SUN for an hour. * Tumeric will disappear. Indo-Fijian solution!!!" Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 9:51
  • Sounds like another vote for UV as a solution to bleaching out turmeric stains.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 14:17
  • Add: Do not use knives that are too delicate in the edge region to take a scrubbing sponge :) Especially not rough finished carbon steel, it doesn't just become discoloured but sticky. Same solution as for rust spots works, though: toothpaste... Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 21:39

Read this thread after trying a NYT recipe for roast pork, that turned out nicely, but left turmeric stains on a non-stick baking sheet. (The baking sheet had been in the oven under the roast.) In my case all sorts of products did NOT work, including chlorine beach. What finally did the trick was a spray solution of OxiClean applied to the cookware, with the cookware then placed in a 180 degree oven for an hour or so. Much, much more effective than OxiClean left at room temperature for days. Stain is gone completely, and the great thing is that the non-stick coating survived unscathed. Hope this helps someone else. My guess is that, for stained cloth, presoaking with OxiClean in near-boiling water would work.


try oxiclean - i swear by it. if it can remove red wine from whites, surely it can remove this. i am continually amazed at the stains i find it can remove where nothing else works.

  • works best if combined with the UV from sun -- see my note about peroxide + UV.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jul 3, 2011 at 19:14

Soaking in a solution of washing soda is often enough - the colour is mostly soluble in alkali. It can take time with a cold solution - overnight is good.

The bleach treatment works because it bleaches the colour, but also because bleach is strongly alkaline (it is stabilised with caustic soda). Washing soda is a milder option, and better for plastics.

Vanish can get rid of stains on clothes - you may find the stain is still there when washed, but expose the mark to sunlight on a washing line and it magically fades away.

  • Polypropylene (♷) and high-density polyethylene (♴) are both quite bleach resistant, as long as you're not heating the bleach. Indeed, if you check the bleach bottle, its probably HDPE. Polycarbonate (♹=other), not so much. Found this site: coleparmer.com/techinfo/chemcomp.asp
    – derobert
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 21:07

We were making turmeric tea and we had to shred it. stained everything. "Ready to use oven & heavy duty cleaner" works for cleaning. This is the spray that domino's uses for cleaning greasy stoves. The turmeric turns copper red in an instant and is easily washed away! Amazing.


who told you that set in tumeric cant be removed? Just use tide to go!

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    My tupperware, wooden mixing spoons, several kitchen counters, a mixing bowl, a couple dish cloths, and some clothing all told me. Although the color has gradually faded over time, they're definitely not the tint they started with. I think that speaks pretty loudly.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jul 3, 2011 at 19:12

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