How to Remove Food Coloring from Skin


Ellie asked: How do I remove red and green food coloring from my children’s face and hands?

A child covered in food coloring is one of those not-so-rare horrifying moments of parenthood. Food coloring is like ink and requires a bit of patience to remove, and that’s something parent and child are likely to be out of after a few scant moments of scrubbing.  Fortunately, there is a better way to remove food coloring from kids than scouring, and it’s much faster than the typical Plan B, which is to let it simply wear off.  Here’s what you need to do.

You Will Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water (preferably running water)
  • Washcloth or paper towels

Steps to Remove the Food Coloring:

  1. The first step is to rinse or wipe away as much of the food coloring as possible. If you have an old washcloth, use it. If not, opt for a paper towel to avoid transferring the stain to a washcloth.
  2. Next, soak a clean washcloth (or paper towel) with white vinegar.
  3. Gently rub the cloth over the stained areas of skin.
  4. Rinse the washcloth frequently with water or replace the paper towel when it becomes stained.
  5. If the stains are stubborn, make a paste of baking soda and water.  Rinse the vinegar from the skin before applying the paste.
  6. Rub the baking soda paste into the skin gently. Rinse and alternate with vinegar rub.
  7. Once the stain is gone or patience has run out, wipe or rinse skin clean. Repeat the process after a break, if needed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Take care not to get baking soda or vinegar directly into the child’s mouth. It’s not likely to be harmful, but it won’t foster cooperation either.
  • For particularly stubborn stains and/or children, you can mix a slight bit of vinegar and baking soda.  It will fizz and “explode.”  The “cool” factor may keep the kids engaged long enough to remove more of the stain.
  • Don’t rub or scrub so hard that you damage skin. A food coloring stain is easier to live with than an irritating, painful rash.


  1. Sarah says:

    My mom always tells me to use lemon juice, and cooking oil, sunflower oil-that sort of oil, but if you don’t have that then use diluted bleach; that always works for me.

  2. Emily says:

    Toothpaste works great too!

  3. Michelle says:

    Add a couple tablespoons of DISHWASHER detergent to a basin of warm water and soak a few minutes. Rinse with cool water. Repeat if necessary. Good Luck!!

  4. Tracey says:

    Thank you! I just used the baking soda-like soap, and it worked wonders!

  5. Stephanie says:

    I used conditioner and soap. Before I did that, my whole hand was blue. My friends even called me a smurf!

  6. Princess says:

    The vinegar worked perfectly after a couple of applications. I needed to get the food coloring off for an interview. I went to the interview and it looked like there was nothing on my hands!

  7. Sassy Sara says:

    The baking soda and vinegar works really well! :)

  8. Minnie says:

    I had to get a photo taken as a vampire, so I filled my mouth with food dye and I can’t get it off. :/ Any suggestions for how to get my face and mouth clean?

  9. Sandra says:

    Thanks; the toothpaste worked on my face just great!

  10. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much! The vinegar and baking soda worked wonderfully!

  11. Chris says:

    It came off a little, but not all of it and I have to go to school tomorrow!

  12. Lucy says:

    I have food dye on my fingers because I used it for science and it won’t come off. Someone help!!

  13. Melanie says:

    If the vinegar or baking soda isn’t working, you can also try hydrogen peroxide. Dish soap might also work. If you’re still not having any luck, you could try alcohol-based products, such as rubbing alcohol, hair spray or hand sanitizer.

    Source: – How to Remove Food Coloring from Walls and Hardwood Floors

  14. Amanda says:

    I used nail polish remover and that helped a bit.

  15. Mallory says:

    I had a movie-making contest at school, so I made a Halloween movie and I was a monster, but the make-up on my face used coloring. HELP.

  16. Jennette says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for the baking soda and white vinegar trick; just got red food dye all over my hand and diamond rings, but the solution has worked on both. :) Thank you so much, lifesaver xxx

  17. Zoey says:

    The method you did was awesome! It worked! My little bro and I were trying so hard. I love it! But my fingers smell gross!!

  18. Savannah says:

    It worked really good! I didn’t have any vinegar, so I just used the baking soda and water instead, but it worked really good!!!! I was doing a performance at school and one of the scenes had food coloring in it and I touched the bottle and it made my fingers turn blue!!!!!!!! Then, we had to go and do our bows and I did it with blue fingers. SO EMBARRASSING!!!!!

  19. Melanie says:

    Thanks; it worked a bit. Me and my mum were making a minion cake and blue food coloring got on my fingers and a bit dropped on my sock and now my toes are blue too. Anyway, thanks for the tips!!! By the way, I’m a kid, so the cake was for me!

  20. Gerry says:

    Milk works; it takes hair dye off your face, and it also works for food coloring.
    Try warming a little in a bowl and soaking your hands in it or use a cloth and wipe the spot.

  21. Cerol says:

    Omg! Toothpaste is so awesome!! I love it.

  22. Matt says:

    Tried vinegar, rubbing alcohol, dish detergent – nothing. Couple of blobs of Colgate toothpaste, a quick rub and a rinse – gone!

  23. MJ says:

    It DID NOT WORK. There is red food dye on my hands still! I NEED to get it off. Please send me an email or something. I need to get it off as soon as possible. The food dye is all over my hands. If you can help, please do. :) Thanks.

  24. Melanie says:

    Food coloring is a dye stain, so you could also try rubbing alcohol (which is often used to remove dye or ink stains) or peroxide. Denture tablets are another idea. There are more ideas for removing stains from hands in the article How to lean Stains from Hands/Skin.
    Source: HowToCleanStuff – How to Clean Food Dyes from Plastic
    Source: HowToCleanStuff – How To Remove Food Coloring from Walls and Hardwood Floors

  25. Madina says:

    Wow. It works. I have a hand full of red orange and yellow stains everywhere. It’s all clear.

  26. Maddy says:

    It worked well like this; washes off some of it.

    You will need:
    1. Unwanted but still not broken toothbrush
    2. Shower oil
    3. Water
    4. Towel
    1. Wet the toothbrush.
    2. Squeeze some shower oil onto it.
    3. Brush over affected skin.
    4. Dry off hands and repeat if needed.
    Only 4 things you all have!

  27. Lily says:

    All I did was use a bunch of foam soap and rubbed like washing my hands. Came off like magic! Although I had to rub a little harder the first time. Washed my hands about three times just to make sure.

  28. Ashley says:

    Oil-based makeup remover took it off for me very easily. I was surprised.

  29. AssIe says:

    I dropped a bottle of blue food color all over my feet! Some people thought I was seriously sick.

  30. Ellie says:

    Oh my goodness this saved my life. I put yellow and blue food coloring all over my face. Thanks a bunch! :)

  31. Kewl says:

    Yesterday I “pranked” my sister and some friends online by covering my whole hand in red food dye, making it look like real blood. After I washed some off, my hand was stained pink! Now I’m at school and I’m going to try it all when I get home. I had too many people ask what’s wrong with my hand.

  32. Heaven says:

    Thanks; it has really worked for me. I had put some red dye on my uper lip and said I had a bloody nose, so THANKS.

  33. Emily says:

    Thanks. The toothpaste worked, but my sisters hands stink of mint!

  34. Belinda says:

    Skin So Soft; For trick or treat, my granddaughter used red food coloring to look like she had blood on her lips. All her make-up came off except the red. After looking online for ways to remove it, I decided to try SSS first. Put some on a cotton ball and it started to come off right away… Good stuff!

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