Iodine stain removal

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Iodine is a skin steriliser used to prevent and treat infections from scrapes, cuts and even surgical incisions. However, as a dye, iodine is capable of staining skin, clothing and other household surfaces. Cleaning and removing the stains can be difficult, especially if they're not cleaned straight away.

Skin stains

Iodine can leave a yellow or orange stain on the skin after being applied to disinfect a wound. Luckily, it isn't hard to remove. Washing the stained body area with soap and water will eventually work, though it is a gradual process and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Using alcohol is the preferred method. Rub a cottonwool ball or pad soaked in rubbing alcohol over the stained area, and the stain will begin to lift immediately. However, if the injury or wound treated by iodine is still fresh or open, applying alcohol can aggravate it by making it burn or sting.

Household stains

Household iodine stains can be more difficult to clean, but you can try these methods. Flush the material with cool water. If that doesn't work, soak the fabric in a solution of 1 litre (1 quart) cold water, 2 ml (1/2 tsp) of bleach-free washing powder and then wash it in the washing machine. For upholstery, mix 15 ml (1 tbsp) of washing-up liquid with 500 ml (2 cups) of cold water. Soak a clean cloth in the solution and sponge the stain. Let the stain soak for half an hour, and then sponge again. Repeat this until the iodine stain is removed. If iodine has stained your carpet, use a cloth to sponge the stain with any standard dry cleaning liquid, and continue to until the stain is absorbed. For tough and persistent stains, mixing 15 ml (1 tbsp) of sodium trisulphate with 250 ml (1 cup) of water and using it to sponge or blot out the stains can help. Use cool water for fabric and upholstery, and warm water for carpet.


Don't use detergents that contain bleach. Bleach can actually cause iodine stains to set in more. Also, never mix bleach with ammonia, because the gases and fumes released by the mixture are dangerous.

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