If you're celebrating Easter this weekend, that likely means cooking a spiral ham, dressing in your Sunday best, finding hidden eggs, and—of course—cleaning stains from a melted chocolate bunny off your kids.
What is a parent to do? Stay cool—and we don't just mean keeping calm. Cold temperatures are ideal for getting chocolate stains out of fabrics.
1. Bust out the ice cubes
For small, fresh chocolate stains, dabbing an ice cube on the stain is your best bet. Different kinds of chocolate contain a variety of stain-causing compounds, many of which can set into fabrics when heat is applied. Ice cubes will prevent that from happening.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, what's happening is that the cold water keeps the proteins in the chocolate from denaturing, or falling apart—which makes it more difficult to remove. Think of denatured protein as a handful of confetti, which is a lot harder to pick up than a single piece of paper.
For large globs of chocolate, consider putting the whole article of clothing into the fridge. Doing this will harden the gooey glob into something you can gently scrape off.
2. Gently rub some detergent onto the stain
An ice cube does the trick for protein, but it isn't going to help wash out the oil component of chocolate. That's where detergent comes in.
Be sure to make sure the article of clothing in question is not dry-clean only. We've got a handy guide on what those puzzling fabric symbols mean, if you're not sure.
You can use laundry or dish soap (but not detergent for a dishwasher) to help break down the stain. Gently rub in the soap with your fingers, and let it sit for five minutes. We recommend Persil for its stain removing power.
3. Soak in cold water
Once detergent is worked in, it's time to soak the stained garment in cold water to wash off the excess soap and lift as much as the stain as possible.
Soak for about a half hour before you check on the stain. Rub it with your fingers to agitate the detergent through the clothing's fibers. Some stains will need to soak overnight.
4. Wash normally in a washing machine
Now that the chocolate stain has been throughly pretreated, you can wash the clothing like you normally would.
5. Repeat if necessary
If the stain still persists, repeat steps two through four, soaking for a little longer this time. If only a grease stain remains, it might be time to use a dedicated stain remover like Shout! or OxiClean.