Chef Whites: A-Z tips to keep white chef coat stain free.

Your chef coat is vital to your uniform, providing protection and a professional appearance. Given the nature of your work as a chef, it’s inevitable that your white chef coat will get stained from daily use.

As a chef, you must know how to properly remove stains from your white chef coat and other white components of your uniform, like a white scarf or apron, particularly as different food stains need different remedies.

In this article, we provide tips and tricks on removing different stains from your chef’s coat.

We’ve written two detailed and related articles outlining best practices: 1. How to clean and maintain your white chef coat and 2. How to clean and care for your complete chef uniform: hat, coat, apron, pants and shoes. We encourage you to read these to help maintain your uniform and present a positive chef image of personal and professional hygiene.

Let’s start with:

How to remove stains from your white chef coat: 12 Hints.

To get rid of stains on your chef whites, try this:

1. Follow the 1,2 and 3 of stain removal.

1. Prompt action: Pre-treat the stain immediately. The faster you act, the easier it is to remove the stain;

2. Check before you treat: ensure that the stain remover treatment doesn’t damage or discolour your coat by testing it in a discreet corner; Do this for all chemical and non-chemical stain removers.

3. Check before you dry: don’t dry a coat or uniform component from which the stain is not entirely removed.

2. Promptly treat stains with an on-hand stain remover.

Whenever possible, treat a stain immediately or as soon as possible. Have a ready knowledge and supply of easy-to-apply remedies that can be used to minimise damage to your chef coat.

In this case, a stain remover stick is handy to have. Products like these help you to attend to the stain while you are on the go and minimise damage to your coat.

When using a stain stick, remove excess liquid by dabbing it with a clean cloth or paper towel, apply the stain stick to the stained area, and then wash your coat at the end of the shift.

3. Use natural stain-removals: baking soda, lemon or vinegar.

As an emerging chef, you may want to try natural remedies to remove stains before spending on stain remover products.

Baking soda: Baking soda, also called bicarbonate of soda and sodium bicarbonate, can be used by making a paste with water and baking soda and then gently applying it to the stain.

Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice can be applied directly to the stain, saturating it and then allowing it to rest for 20-30 minutes before allowing the acidic properties of lemon juice to break down the stain.

Follow this up by gently rubbing the stain with a soft toothbrush and then rinse the stained area. Pre-soak and launder.

Vinegar: Use vinegar as a stain remover on your chef coat; mix equal amounts of vinegar and water, dab on the stain, or use a spray bottle. Let it stand for 30 minutes or overnight for a bad stain, and then pre-soak and launder it as usual.

4. Pre-treat and wash the coat with oxygen bleach.

Oxygen bleach can be used to remove set-in stains and to whiten discoloured coats.

Oxygen bleach comes in powder and liquid form and must be mixed with hot and not cold water for the best results.

Soak the stained coat in a solution of oxygen bleach and a good quality laundry detergent, soak the coat for 30 minutes, and then wash.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s product guide before using it. When adding oxygen bleach to the wash cycle, for further stain removal or to whiten your coat, it’s best to add it to the water before adding your coats.

5. Use hot or cold water based on the type of stain.

Both hot and cold water is used to remove stains, but which is best depends on the cause of the stain. The wrong water temperature can worsen the stain.

Cold water is best for a food stain, as hot water on a food stain can cause the stain to become absorbed and set into the fabric. In like manner, a stained jacket in the dryer will also cause the stain to become ingratiated in the material. Instead, remove the stain first.

The below table is a guide on which water temperature to use for different types of stains:

Water temperatureType of stains
Hot waterHeavy duty stains
Oil, fat and greasy stains

Detergents with enzymes like lipases will get rid of greasy stains.
Cold waterCold is best for protein stains from dairy, egg, gravy and blood.

Hot water can cause the stain to set in, whereas cold water lifts it, preventing it from setting into the fabric.
Use an enzyme-based stain remover. Detergents with proteases are suitable for protein stains.

6. Remove stains based on the type of stain.

Take the nature of the stain into account and let that guide the method you apply to remove the stain, as different types of stains require other stain removal treatments. A blood stain on your chef coat is treated differently from an oil stain.

As a chef, become knowledgeable about removing all kinds of stains so you can promptly remove a stain as soon as it occurs. Always assess the type of stain and gauge the correct treatment needed.

There are four groups of stains, acid, protein, oil and dye and knowing what stain type you are dealing with informs how the stain is removed.

The below table provides a guideline for dealing with acid, protein, oil and dye stains:

Stain GroupExamplesRemedies for Removing Stain
Acidic stains:
They are also known as tannin stains. These are the most common types of stains that occur on a chef’s uniform.
Typically caused by splashes or spills with acidic ingredients such as:
Wine, beer, lemon juice, tomato, chocolate, coffee, Fruit juice, Soft drinks.
Vinegar is best for such stains:
In a bowl, mix equal amounts of water and vinegar.
Use a clean cloth, and dip this in the mixture, squeezing out any excess liquid.
Gently dab the stain with the fabric. Don’t rub.
Leave for 15 minutes.
Rinse the area with cold water and launder as usual.
Protein stains:
These stains stem from animal-based products.
Typically caused by splashes or spills from food and food products with protein ingredients such as:
Milk, egg, cheese sauce, iced cream, dessert.
Blood is also a protein stain.
Protein stains respond best to cold water.
Remove any excess food on the stain and rinse the stain under cold water to remove as much of the stain as possible.
If the stain remains, apply stain remover to the stained area. Use a stain stick or household items like baking soda, make it into a paste and dabbed onto the stain. Leave it for about 10 to 20 minutes.
At this stage, please do not use any product with soap in it to pre-treat the stain, as this can cause the stain to become ingrained.
Rinse with cold water. Don’t use hot water on the stained area until the stain is completely removed.
Pre-soak in warm water and laundry detergent if the stain is removed, and launder as usual.
Oil stains:
These are the more common stains that can soil a chef’s whites.
Oil stains are commonly caused by the following:
Cooking oil, butter, margarine, lard, bacon fat, mayonnaise, salad dressing.
Hot water is best for grease stains.

First, spot-treat the stain with a stain remover.

If you don’t have a stain stick, make a paste of baking soda and water.

Apply the paste to the stained area with a clean cloth and gently rub it in.

Leave for 30 minutes, then shake off the excess baking soda.

Use dish soap and rub a small amount on the stained area with a clean cloth.

Rinse and pre-soak in detergent and hot water if still stained. If not, use warm water.

You can also pre-soak in hot water and baking soda, or vinegar.

Launder as usual.

Don’t dry the coat unless the stain has been removed.
Dye stains:

7. Avoid using harsh chemicals or use only as a last resort.

As far as you can, avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the fabric of your coat and other chef whites.

If you are not averse to using treatments like chlorine bleach, use for adamant stains only and use sparingly, as a last resort only after you have tried other less harsh or non-chemical remedies unsuccessfully.

Chlorine bleach, with sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient, is a chemical bleach stronger than oxygen bleach and can effectively remove tough stains from your chef’s coat than an oxygen bleach.

Of course, there are pros and cons to using chlorine bleach:

The pros are that chlorine bleach not only removes different kinds of stains, like dark wine or blood but disinfects the coat from germs and deodorises it much better than oxygen bleach.

The cons are that while it is suited to whiten fabric like the white chef coat, it causes yellowing over time, and if you have embroidery on your chef coat, chlorine bleach can also remove the colour of the embroidery.

Chlorine bleach can also weaken the fabric, causing it to wear thin faster and need replacing sooner. The weakening and thinning out of the material make it less safe to protect the chef from burns from hot spills.

In addition, it’s toxic, and you inhale the strong chemical smell upon working with it. Some people have allergic reactions to chlorine bleach. It is also not environmentally friendly.

If you decide to use it for stain removal, make sure it is diluted with water and apply by dabbing with a sponge or soaking only the stained area. Wear gloves to protect your hands, a mask to prevent inhaling the fumes, and work in a well-ventilated area.

Considering the cons, if you use chlorine-based bleach, keep it for heavy stains and use it only as suggested.

The alternative is oxygen bleach, milder than chlorine bleach and safer for sensitive skin and a fabric whitener, but it may not be as effective for stubborn stains. If you want to use it to whiten your coat, laundry whiteners are better suited to whiten your yellowing chef coat.

8. For tough stains: re-treat, but don’t dry a stained coat.

While most stains are removed by pre-treating the stain and then laundering it as usual, if stains remain after laundering, repeat the stain removal process before drying.

Don’t hang it out and then iron or place it in a dryer, as the heat from the dryer or iron will cause the stain to set deep into the fabric and make it harder to remove.

9. No shortcuts: use the proper stain removal process.

Don’t take shortcuts to remove stains; use the correct stain-removal process to ensure a higher success rate. Incorrect stain removal can permanently set the stain.

10. Check the care label guide before applying remedies.

Do this to ensure that what you use is safe for the fabric of your coat and other uniform components.

11. Keep a backup uniform at work.

When a bad stain occurs, it’s easier to remove your uniform and wear a backup uniform while attending to it, especially if you need to get your uniform wet to deal with it. This way, you don’t have to work in the discomfort of a damp uniform.

A backup uniform can be an older one you can change into while treating the stain. If not, at least wear a white T-shirt beneath your uniform, making dealing with a big stain easier.

12. If stains persist, seek professional assistance.

Consider using a professional laundry service to remove a stain after you have tried various remedies and the stain remains, as some are more difficult to remove than others.

Tips for removing chocolate, blood, oil and ink stains.

Chocolate: How to remove chocolate stains from a white chef coat.

Knowing how to remove a chocolate stain can be helpful if you are a pastry chef or training as one.
Remove as much of the stain as possible without further spreading it by gently scraping it away.

If you are unable to remove your coat to treat the stain:

If you cannot remove your chef coat because you don’t have a backup or are too busy, use a damp, cold cloth to remove as much of the stain as possible.

Follow this up with any of these remedies:

Use laundry detergent: Rub a small amount of laundry or colourless hand soap and work into the stain. Leave it for 20-30 minutes, then rinse or wipe off and dry as much as possible if you wear your coat. Repeat this if needed.

Use a stain remover product: Use a stain remover stick to treat the stain, especially if you are very busy. Pre-soak your coat in laundry detergent when you get home. You can also directly treat the stain before pre-soaking using the above remedy.

If you can remove your coat:

Run the stain under cold, running water, gently rubbing with your hands to remove as much of the stain as possible and prevent it from seeping into the fabric. Be careful not to spread the stain.

Pre-soak when you get home, especially if the stain still needs to be removed and launder as usual.

Blood: How to remove blood stains from a white chef coat.

Working with food, knives and in a hot kitchen, you may injure yourself and get blood on your white coat.

To clean blood from a white chef coat:

Act fast on the stain: the quicker you act, the more likely you will obliterate the stain.

Rinse with cold water: Promptly rinse the blood stain with cold running water. Avoid warm or hot water, as this will set the stain in the fabric.

Soak in a saltwater solution:  Make a saltwater solution using one tablespoon of salt with a cup of water. Soak the stained area of the coat for about 30 minutes in the saltwater solution.

Gently rub with a clean cloth: Follow the soaking of the coat by gently rubbing the stain with a clean cloth or a soft brush, working from the outer to the inner part of the stain.

Rinse with cold water: After rubbing the stain, rinse with cold water.

Dab hydrogen peroxide and cold water if the stain persists:  If the stain is still there after rinsing, you may have to use hydrogen peroxide. Make a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water, apply it to the stain, and leave it for 10-15 minutes.

Rinse with cold water: Follow the hydrogen peroxide treatment by thoroughly rinsing the stain with cold water.

Pre-soak and wash the coat: After removing the stain, follow this by laundering in hot water with a high-quality detergent, using a normal wash cycle if the stain remains, pre-soak in cold water, not hot.

If you are averse to using chemicals, try alternatives like baking soda or vinegar.

Sometimes, non-chemical treatments may be less effective for treating the stain and may require more effort and time to remove the stain. The continuous use of chemicals is, however, likely to damage the fabric of the coat.

Avoid using hot water or drying the coat until the stain is completely removed to prevent the stain from setting in.

Oil: How to remove oil stains from a white chef coat.

Incurring oil splashes on your uniform is possible when working in a hot kitchen.

To clean oil stains from a white chef coat:

Act fast to treat the stain: Immediate action makes it possible to eradicate the oil stain.

Blot excess oil with a paper towel: Use a clean cloth or paper towel and blot the stain to remove extra oil but don’t rub as this can cause the oil to spread.

Rub dish soap on the stain: Apply a drop of dish soap directly to the stain and gently rub the soap into the stain using your finger or a soft brush.

Let it sit for 20-30 minutes: The dish soap can work on the stain and break down the oil.

Rinse with hot water: Once the stain is removed, use hot water and thoroughly rinse the stained area to remove all the soap.

Use baking soda if the stain persists: Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply this directly to stubborn oil stains.  Let it rest for 20-30 minutes, allowing the baking soda to work on the stain.

Gently rub the stain: Leave the baking soda on and work on the stain with a soft brush or cloth to remove it.

Rinse with hot water: Rinse thoroughly once the stain has been removed.

Pre-soak, then launder: Pre-soak the coat in hot water and detergent and wash, using a normal wash cycle, in warm water and good quality detergent.


If the stain persists, repeat the stain removal process.

Make sure the coat can be washed in hot water without sustaining damage.

Ink: How to remove ink stains from a white chef coat.

often carry pens in their chef coat pockets, and one of the worst stains to deal with is a spot of ink on a white chef coat from a leaky pen.

To clean an ink spot from a white chef coat:

Act quickly to treat the stain: Quick action increases the chances of completely removing the stain.

Use an old towel to stop ink bleeding: Place an old towel or layers of paper towels at the back of the stain to prevent ink bleeding on your work surface.

Blot the stain: use a paper towel or a clean cloth and gently blot to soak up as much excess ink as possible while not spreading the stain.

Dab with rubbing alcohol: Dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and dap it onto the stain. First, test the rubbing alcohol on a hidden coat part and wait for it to dry to ensure it does not damage the fabric or cause discolouration.

Repeat if needed: Blot the stain with the alcohol until it disappears. If it is stubborn, repeat the process, using a clean cloth each time. You may have to do this several times before the stain is removed. Rinse the spot and blot dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Pre-soak and wash: Pre-soak the coat in a hot water solution of laundry detergent and oxygen bleach and then wash on a regular cycle in hot water and good quality detergent.

Check the stain: Before hanging out to line dry, check that the stain is completely gone. If not, repeat the stain removal process.


Use lemon juice as an alternative to alcohol: From our research, lemon juice can be used if you don’t want to use rubbing alcohol.

Do not use chlorine bleach on the stain, as it could discolour the coat.

Additional recommendations are to:

Rub the stain with dishwashing detergent: Allow the alcohol or lemon juice to dry, apply a drop of dishwashing detergent, and gently rub with a toothbrush until the stain is gone. Rinse the spot and blot dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Pre-soak and launder.

Hot water is a once-off treatment, but first, make sure your coat can sustain a hot water wash without damage.

In conclusion, removing stains from your chef whites, especially your white chef coat, is vital for your uniform’s appearance and longevity. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can effectively remove stains from your white chef coat and keep it clean and professional.

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