How To Remove Food Coloring Stains From Skin

Look down and your hands are pink! Oh no! You are covered in food coloring. No need to worry, however. This is a common occurrence in many households and, if you’re a parent, you’ve probably encountered a food coloring-stained child at certain times.

Don’t stress!

Today I’ll show you the best ways to eliminate food coloring from your skin so you don’t have to walk around with purple fingers anymore.  This includes safety measures to know and how to do it using common things you probably already have at home.

How to remove food coloring stains from skin

steps on how to remove food coloring from skin

There are a range of ways to remove food coloring from your skin. One of the first methods is to wash the affected skin area with warm water and soap.

Then, cover a washcloth in vinegar and gently rub it onto the stain. You can also add a little dab of baking soda paste onto the stain and then rinse thoroughly and substitute with the vinegar rub.

If you have no vinegar, fear not! We have more detailed methods for eliminating these unwanted stains below.

The main trick when removing food coloring from the skin is to tackle it immediately. This will give you the best chance of removing the stain completely. If the coloring is left to lie on the skin for too long, it can remain there until it fades away after some time.

Here are the most proven methods of getting rid of food coloring stains. Combining one or two can give you a better chance of getting your skin back to how it should look again.


  • Wipe or rinse away as much of the food coloring as possible. Find an old washcloth or paper towels if a washcloth is not available. Remember, the food coloring can transfer the stain onto the washcloth so ensure it’s an old cloth or something you rarely use.
  • Submerge the washcloth or paper towels in white vinegar.
  • Rub the washcloth or paper towels over the stained skin carefully.
  • Next, rinse the washcloth regularly with water. If you’re using paper towels, replace them once they have become stained.
  • For more stubborn stains, you can prepare a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Wash the vinegar away from the skin before you apply any form of paste.
  • Gently dab the baking soda paste into the skin.
  • Rinse thoroughly and then substitute with vinegar rub.

When the stain has significantly faded or disappeared, wipe or wash the skin thoroughly. If the stain is still evident, you can repeat the process.

Vinegar and baking soda

The best way to remove food dye with vinegar is to combine baking soda with vinegar. Just follow these steps:

  1. Wash the stained skin with warm, soapy water. You can also soak a washcloth in water and rub this onto the affected site.
  2. Cover a clean washcloth with white vinegar.
  3. Rub this into the stain gently. If the vinegar stings a little, you should mix 1-part vinegar with 1-part water. This dilutes the vinegar and, therefore, lessens the stinging feeling.
  4. Next, rinse the washcloth in cool water. Then, soak it once again in vinegar. Continue doing this until the washcloth has soaked up the food coloring dye.
  5. If the stain is stubborn. Prepare a paste with 2-parts baking soda and 1-part water.
  6. Apply this paste onto the affected skin area and, with a circular motion, gently rub your fingers over the area.
  7. Rinse the paste away with soapy, warm water.

If the stain remains, you can repeat this vinegar and baking soda process. However, most dyes should have faded by this point but if the stain has been on the skin for a while, it can go deep into the skin. Therefore, repeat the process until the washcloth soaks up the dye


When using vinegar or baking soda, ensure you do not get any into your mouth. This can be tricky if the stain is near this part of your face but be extra vigilant and keep your mouth closed.

If the coloring stain is annoyingly stubborn, prepare a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. These ingredients will react and bubble up, helping remove the stain and become a spectacle for young kids to enjoy!

Avoid scrubbing or rubbing the stain too hard. Doing so could damage the skin and cause an injury. Trust us, it is better to live with a food coloring stain for a few days rather than a sore rash or graze.

Other options are also available such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or the use of plain white toothpaste. That being said, let’s take a look at these options below.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is used for an array of purposes, especially when it comes to the skin. Luckily, it can be effective when eliminating food coloring from the skin. Here’s how:

  1. Get a hold of a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol. If you have a wider stained area, you should use a washcloth or paper towels.
  2. Rub the cotton ball into the stain. The rubbing alcohol will get to work and help dissolve the dye’s pigment. Just a few strokes of the cotton ball should see the dye gradually come off.
  3. Repeat this process using fresh cotton balls covered in rubbing alcohol until the dye has completely faded.
  4. Wash the area with soap and water.
  5. Pat dry with a towel. If the stain lingers, simply rub more rubbing alcohol in again. When the stain has gone, thoroughly wash the skin and dry afterward.

It’s important to note that alcohol has a drying effect on the skin. Therefore, we highly recommend using a lotion on the skin after this process, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is excellent at removing all types of stains from the skin. You just need to soak a cotton ball, washcloth, or paper towels in hydrogen peroxide and gently apply it to the skin.

Wait for a few minutes. The dye should begin to fade. Afterward, wash and rinse thoroughly with warm, soapy water.

Plain white toothpaste

Toothpaste doesn’t only leave your teeth looking healthy. Plain white, non-gel, toothpaste can be applied to a food coloring stain on your skin to successfully remove it.

Let’s take a look at how to do this:

  • Wash the stained area with warm water and soap.
  • Rub soap onto the area to produce a lather while keeping the skin damp.
  • If you have baking soda, we recommend mixing this with toothpaste.
  • Simply apply a thin layer of toothpaste over the food coloring stain. Carefully rub this in using circular motions.
  • Allow the toothpaste to dry. Once it has dried, splash some sprinkles of water and continue to wash the area. After only a short time, the dye should begin to lighten and fade away.
  • Once it has started to fade or has disappeared, rinse the toothpaste with warm water.
  • If needed, repeat these steps. If any trace of the stain remains, wash it once again with toothpaste and water.

Is food coloring safe on the skin?

is food coloring safe on the skin

Food colorings are chemical substances. They are made to improve the appearance of different foods through the use of artificial coloring.

Most of the meals and drinks you consume include food dyes. Think about your favorite sports drinks, candy bars, and baked goods. Most of these contain some sort of artificial food dye.

Over the years, there have been claims that artificial food dyes can cause serious health defects such as cancer, allergies, and hyperactivity in children.

And, for many of the food dyes that have been developed over the years, some of these claims have been found to be true. However, the toxicity of these food colorings is no longer present as only a handful of artificial dyes are still used today.

However, views can be conflicting from one country to the next. Some food dyes are safe in one region while another deems them to be dangerous.

Therefore, it can be hard to assess just how safe these food colorings really are. Most commercial food dye is thoroughly tested, however, and very safe for people to consume, let alone get on their skin.

Final thoughts

The vivid colors of food dyes may look great in different recipes but not so appealing on our skin. Once food coloring is spilled on skin, sloths, or surfaces, it can become a stubborn stain that is hard to remove.

With the ideas I’ve shared here you should be able to properly eliminate those awful stains so your skin can go back to its original pigment once again.