How to Remove Sterno Fuel Stains From Clothes

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Things You'll Need

  • Detergent

  • White paper towel

Sterno fuel keeps buffet dishes warm when burned but stains clothing and linens when spilled. Made from poisonous denatured alcohol with dye to make it pink and additives to make it a gel, Sterno fuel remains combustible even when it's not in the can. Treat an item stained with Sterno gel fuel right away for the best chance of getting rid of the stain completely, to avoid accidental transfer onto other garments and to reduce its chance of exposure to your children, pets and other members of the household.


Step 1

Blot, don't rub, away any remaining Sterno fuel from the garment using a paper towel. Dispose of the paper towel enclosed in the empty Sterno can if it's available. If not, put it in the trash and keep the trash protected from excess heat and open flame from appliances or grills.

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Step 2

Apply detergent to the stain. Wash the item in water as hot as the tag's care instructions allow.


Step 3

Remove the item from the washer and check for the stain. If the stain is gone, dry the item according to label instructions. If any of the gel or greasiness remains, repeat the steps above, using progressively hotter water until it's gone. If only the pink dye remains, proceed to the next step.


Step 4

Apply a heavy-duty detergent to the pink dye spot. Allow it to sit for 15 to 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly with hot water. If the stain remains, bleach it if safe for the fabric. Wash the garment in hot water.


Use detergent, not soap, on Sterno fuel stains because soap can set alcohol stains. Do not dry the garment until the stain is gone since heat from the dryer can set the stain. Start trying to remove the stain with the least invasive or damaging method possible and work up to more harsh methods as the stain requires, weighing the potential risk of not removing the stain with the risk of damaging the garment with your laundering method.


Do not use a solvent cleaner, such as dry cleaning solvent, on a Sterno fuel stain because of the chemical's risk of flammability.


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