How to Remove Charcoal Stains

Grilling with charcoal adds a distinct flavor to foods. Unfortunately, after laying the charcoal bricks in the grill, you may accidentally wipe your hands across your shirt or pants, transferring the charcoal dust and leaving a stain. Treat charcoal stains quickly so they do not permanently mar your clothes.

Remove charcoal stains with heavy duty laundry detergent.
  1. Stretch the fabric out on a hard surface. Gently scrape any loose charcoal from the garment with a butter knife.
  2. Pour 2 to 3 drops of heavy duty liquid detergent onto the charcoal stain. Press the detergent into the stain, but do not rub. Rubbing may cause the stain to expand. Allow the detergent to sit on the stain overnight.
  3. Spray the stain with a stain remover and launder it normally. Inspect the stain after removing the fabric from the washer. If the stain remains, apply rubbing alcohol.
  4. Dab the rubbing alcohol onto the stain with cotton balls. The rubbing alcohol may lift the charcoal from the fabric, so keep applying new soaked cotton balls until the charcoal is no longer visible on the cotton balls. Launder the garment once again and allow to air-dry.

Things You Will Need

  • Butter knife
  • Heavy-duty liquid detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls


  • Wear a chef's apron when grilling or handling charcoal to avoid staining clothes.

About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.

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