How To Remove Gentian Violet Stains

When it comes to gentian violet stains, they can be particularly troublesome to remove. When you take into consideration how bold the color is, it is not overly surprising.

Whether you have stained your skin, or tipped gentian violet on a white shirt, or new carpet, you may think that there is no hope in removing it. However, with patience and persistence, there are a few different ways in which you can remove the stubborn stains it creates.

In this article, we will be talking you through the best products to use, and how to remove these stains.

What Is Gentian Violet?

what is gentian violet?

Before we jump into how to remove these stains, it is useful to know what gentian violet is. It is an antiseptic dye that was first used in the 19th century. While it has now been banned in Canada over safety concerns, it is still commonly used in the US.

You may often find gentian violet labeled as crystal violet. As it is antiseptic, it can be used as an anti-bacterial, and antifungal treatment. It is often used to treat topical issues such as ringworm, yeast infections on a baby’s skin, breastfeeding mothers, and athlete’s foot.

It can also be used in some cases for cuts, and small scrapes. While it has great healing properties, because of its bright purple color, it quickly stains the skin and fabrics.

How To Remove Gentian Violet Stains From Skin

how to remove gentian violet stains from skin

The most common gentian violet stains can be found on the skin. When you take into consideration that it is typically used on the skin, this is understandable. While gentian violet will eventually wash away, if you are using it often it can be frustrating when it stains the skin.

Vaseline and Lanolin Cream

A great way to stop gentian violet straining the skin is to use Vaseline or Lanolin cream. This is safe to use on children and adults and is a useful way of stopping more of the skin from being stained than necessary.

If you place either options on the baby’s mouth or the area of skin surrounding where the gentian violet is being used, it will prevent any other areas from staining.

Once the gentian violet has been used, you can then remove the Vaseline or Lanolin cream.

Paper Towels and Water

One of the easiest ways to remove gentian violet stains is by using paper towels and clean water. This is the best option to use if the stain is recent. By using warm water and paper towels, you will encourage the stain to lift quickly.

However, this is not the best method to use on stains that have set on the skin. While they will work eventually, set stains will take longer to fade.

Cotton Pad and Isopropyl Alcohol

Using a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol is a really effective way of removing gentian violet stains. While, we would not recommend using this on a baby’s skin, as it can be quite harsh, it can be used on children’s and adult’s skin when care is taken.

You will only need to use a small amount of the rubbing alcohol, and you will need to gently run this over the stained area. It works best on fresh gentian violet stains, but it will lift set stains too.

If you don’t want to use running alcohol, alternatively, you can use vodka as an alternative, it works similarly.

Baby Wipes

Another great method to remove gentian violet stains, especially from a baby’s skin, is to use baby wipes. It is likely that you will already have a packet of these at home, and you know that they are going to be soft and gentle on your baby’s skin.

Baby wipes can also be used for children and adults. We would recommend running the stain in a circular motion to help it lift off the skin. After this, you can use a cotton pad and warm water, to remove any excess gentian violet that is left over.

How To Remove Gentian Violet Stains From Hair

how to remove gentian violet stains from hair

Interestingly, some people will choose to use gentian violet mixed with conditioner or hair shampoo to tone their hair. This is because purple will help to eliminate brassy and yellow hair. This is why shampoos for blonde hair are typically purple or blue.

While it is a great option to use, if you accidentally use too much gentian violet, you may notice that your hair has a purple tinge to it, which you may want to get rid of.

Washing Hair Often

The best way to get rid of gentian violet from your hair without causing it damage is to wash it often. We would recommend using a good clarifying shampoo and wash your hair for a few days in a row.

After you have done this, you should notice the gentian violet stains starting to fade. It’s worth noting that this will not stain your hair permanently. As a result, even with regular washing, you will notice that the gentian violet will begin to lift from the hair.


In addition to using a clarifying shampoo, we would recommend slathering your hair with conditioner too. A good moisturizing conditioner will also help to lift the gentian violet stains.

How To Remove Gentian Violet Stains From Carpet

how to remove gentian violet stains from carpet

If you have a light colored carpet, or a new carpet, it can be a nightmare when it gets stained. When you take into consideration how bright gentian violet is, it’s the last thing you want to find on your carpet.

While these solutions can help to remove the stains, in some cases, the stain may not be able to be removed completely. In these instances, these solutions can help to lift the stains as much as possible.

Dry Cleaning Fluid

The first method we would recommend is to use dry cleaning fluid. As this is intended to be used on tougher stains, it is a useful option to consider. You will want to pour a good amount of the fluid over the stain, and allow it between 5 and 10 minutes to lift the stain.

After this, you will want to wash it away with cold water and towel dry the carpet as much as possible. You can repeat this process if needed.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is another useful option, though it does smell quite strong, and can be harsh on delicate carpets. You will want to place a small amount over the stain and dab it until the stain removes.

Laundry Detergent

Finally, you can choose to use laundry detergent. This is the least harsh option and does work well. You will want to place this over the stain and use a small brush to scrub it into the carper.

After this, you will need to wash it with clean water and towel it dry. Again, this can be repeated if necessary.

How To Remove Gentian Violet Stains From Clothes

how to remove gentian violet stains from clothes

As gentian violet is a liquid, it can easily be tipped on clothes. While it is more difficult to remove from lighter clothes, it is possible. However, in some cases, these tips will help you to subdue the look of the purple stains, rather than removing them completely.

Rubbing Alcohol

The best method to remove gentian violet from clothes is to use rubbing alcohol. We would recommend putting the rubbing alcohol on to a cotton pad, rag, or sponge, and gently rubbing this over the stained area of the clothes.

The earlier you do this, the better. You can then wash this off as the stain begins to lift, and you can repeat this if needed. Care should be taken if the stain is on a delicate piece of clothing.

Laundry Detergent and Vinegar

An alternative to rubbing alcohol, is soaking the item of clothing in a laundry detergent and vinegar solution. This will help to lift the stains, and we would recommend rubbing the stain occasionally as it is soaking. This will help to lift the stain.

Once the clothes have soaked for a short while, you can wash the clothes, and repeat this if needed. This should help to remove or subdue the stains.

James Marshall
About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »