How to Clean Everything off Your Robe — From Coffee to Bodily Fluids

Go easy on the eggnog: If the worst happens to your robe, even the professionals might not be able to save it.


Lounge season has begun: The days are shorter, the weather is cooler, the upcoming holidays provide a steady supply of sustenance. Therefore, I deem this time of year the ultimate time for lounging on the couch in a comfortable robe, pouring eggnog mixed with Halloween candy into my mouth until January.

One thing bothers me, though: How the heck am I supposed to keep my robe clean as I lounge around, spilling drinks, collecting gunk and tossing food into my mouth? Because this is so important — and this is going to be a long and dirty lounge season — I asked all the cleaning experts I could find.

Before diving into some specific spills, though, a couple more general tips: According to laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette, “Robes need no special consideration, unless they’re silk. Simply wash following the care label.” There are two important pieces of advice here, one being that more delicate fabrics — like silk and cashmere — usually require gentler cleaning methods, and the other being that checking the label on your particular robe before doing anything is always a good move.

Some other more basic tips include dabbing, rather than wiping, to absorb spills and the like — as Rinse co-founder and COO Jame Joun explains, “Wiping can further embed the stain into the fabric.” He also suggests taking your robe to a professional cleaner immediately if your own cleaning attempts are unsuccessful. “The longer you wait, the longer the stain will have a chance to set into the fabric,” he says. “While waiting, keep your clothing away from sunlight, as it will react with the stain, and in a dry, room-temperature environment.” 

Now we can get into the specific messes and how to clean them, but according to Carolyn Forte, home appliances and cleaning products director at Good Housekeeping, once the particular debris has been pre-treated in its own unique way — something we’ll cover below — in general, the subsequent cleaning is the same all around: Apply a pre-wash stain remover or rub liquid laundry detergent into the messied area, then wash the robe in the hottest water the label allows with some kind of bleach — chlorine bleach if the robe is white, or non-chlorine if it has color on it. Then be sure to check the area straight out of the wash. “Never put anything in the dryer until you’re sure the stain is gone,” Forte warns, as this will result in the stain setting for all eternity.

Finally, onto the messes that will inevitably end up on my robe… 

How to Clean Coffee off a Robe
Before anything, try flushing the stain with cold water — and quickly, since wet coffee is much easier to remove. Then, before laundering, pre-treat the area with stain remover and follow the processes above.

How to Clean Condiments off a Robe
According to Forte, cleaning condiments off a robe is a simple as scraping off the excess — which can be done with a toothbrush or even a dull knife — and soak the area in cold water before following up with her above washing procedure. If you need more firepower than an old toothbrush, Joun says, “Take dish soap or laundry detergent, work up a lather on a towel, and then apply the detergent to the stained area to further loosen up the stain.”

How to Clean Red Wine off a Robe
“Soak in cold water or apply Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover,” says Forte. While a specific red wine remover is best, Joun again says you can use his dish soap or laundry detergent lather method before flushing with water — club soda works well, too, according to Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house laundry expert — and then going with the washing method above.

How to Clean Eggnog off a Robe
Joun explains that because eggnog contains proteins and fats from the eggs and cream, you need to use a laundry formula that contains enzymes, which is capable of removing oil stains. Forte reiterates, “Scrape or blot off the excess immediately, rub in enzyme laundry detergent and wash.”

How to Clean Chocolate off a Robe
Joun warns, “Chocolate is a complex stain, as it contains fats, oils and vegetable matter.” Therefore, he suggests taking this stain to a professional for the best results. That said, if you want to give it a try, Forte says, “Blot or scrape off the excess, rub in detergent or pre-wash and launder.” When doing the blotting, Joun says warm or hot water can be helpful in helping melt the chocolate and getting it to absorb.

How to Remove Cigarette Ashes From a Robe
The trick with cigarette ashes, according to Forte, is shaking them off, rather than rubbing them in, before they have a chance to settle into the fabric. From there, applying laundry detergent or a good pre-wash stain remover before tossing your robe in the wash should do the trick.

How to Remove Pet Fur From a Robe
“Be sure to remove this before washing,” Forte says. “A damp rubber glove helps remove pet fur quickly and easily.” As a preventative measure, Joun also suggests washing your socks separately from your robe, as socks accumulate pet fur and can transfer it to the whole load.

How to Remove Bodily Fluids From a Robe
For most bodily fluids, Forte says, “Soak in cold water first, then rub in enzyme detergent or pre-wash and wash in warm water with a fabric-safe bleach.” Joun adds, “It’s much harder to treat dried blood, so act fast.” Hydrogen peroxide also works to remove blood stains, according to Forte — you may want to blot them with a cotton ball or ear swab. Puke can also be tricky, so speediness is in your best interest. “Some cleaners won’t accept vomit-stained clothing if the stain has set for too long because of the difficulty with removal,” says Joun.

Sounds like pre-wash stain remover is going to get me through the season at least as much as the spiked eggnog.