Get Stains Out of Chef Coats With These Seven Steps

Kitchens are fast paced and often messy places to work. It can be tricky to keep the iconic white chef coat sparkling white. 

Stains are bound to happen when you are working with food regularly. But it is important to look sharp and to keep the chef coat as white as possible. These seven steps can help you get stains out and keep chef coats looking bright and professional:

1. Act Quickly

Stains are part of life when you work in a kitchen or restaurant, and one of the best tricks for getting stains out of white chef coats is to wash them as soon as possible. Washing chef coats quickly can also help remove cooking odors and body oil from them because they tend to permeate the fabric and can linger. 

The quicker you act on the stain, the less chance it has to set. It can also be helpful to be prepared with extra chef coats on hand so you can rotate between them if you get a stain on one during a shift.

2. Pretreat the Stain

Use an enzyme-based stain remover or a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent, such as Persil, to pretreat the stain before you wash it. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the detergent or stain remover into the soiled area. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before you wash it. 

You can also use distilled white vinegar, club soda, baking soda or cornstarch to pretreat stains by pouring it over the area that is soiled, working around it and rinsing with warm water. Additionally, Dawn dish soap works well to get grease, such as butter, out of clothing. 

3. Presoak the Coat

It is not always possible to wash a chef coat as soon as it gets stained, so it is important to presoak the coat. Kitchens often have easy access to big sinks or tubs, and any large nonmetal container can be used to presoak the coat. To presoak, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the container with warm water.

  2. Add heavy-duty laundry detergent or white distilled vinegar, one cup of baking soda and oxygen-based bleach such as OxiClean.

  3. Follow the directions on the detergent and oxygen-based bleach to determine how much product to add per gallon of water.

  4. Completely submerge the coat.

  5. Allow the coat to presoak until you are ready to wash it.

4. Wash Whites Separately

White items, such as your chef coats and hats, will need to be washed separately from colored items. Although the oxygen-based bleach is gentle enough to use on colored chef coats or other colored garments for presoaking, colored garments should be washed separately from white ones.

5. Use the Right Water Temperature

Cold water is not likely to get oily or heavy stains out of chef coats. It is generally optimal to use the hottest water temperature that the care label on the garment recommends. If the stain is a protein and not an oil stain, however, it is better to start with cold water because heat can set the stain. 

It is ideal to know what the stain is from before selecting your water temperature. Butter, coffee and oil are best removed in hot water, whereas blood needs to be removed first with cold water, for example. 

If you have multiple stains on a coat and are unclear what caused them, start with cold water. Once you have ensured the stain is out, move on to washing with hot water.

6. Use Heavy-Duty Detergent

Use a heavy-duty laundry detergent that is enzyme-based because most stains on chef coats are likely to be from food. Stay away from chlorine bleach, even though this can be tempting to try to “whiten” the coat. Bleach can deteriorate the fabric of the coat and fade embroidered stitching that is often used to put names or logos on chef coats. Instead, use a stain-removing laundry additive along with your detergent.

7. Check the Coat Before Drying

Heat can set a stain; it is important to check the chef coats after taking them out of the washing machine to ensure the stains are indeed out. Putting the coats straight into the dryer with the stains still on them can bake the stains into the coat. 

If the stains are still present after washing, treat, presoak and rewash the chef coats again. It can also be beneficial to line dry chef coats to keep any stains you may not have noticed from accidentally being set into the coat.

How to Brighten White Coats

Chef coats can yellow or appear off-white or dull over time. Instead of bleaching them with harmful chlorine bleach to whiten them, use oxygen-based bleach to clean your white coats instead. 

Fill a basin, wash sink or washer with warm water and one cup of oxygen-based bleach. Powdered oxygen-based bleach generally works better than liquid. Let the coats soak for 24 hours, and then wash normally in warm or hot water using heavy-duty detergent. During the rinse cycle, add one cup of distilled white vinegar to remove any soil redeposits or excess detergent residue.

It can also be beneficial to use a uniform rental company, such as Alsco, to clean your chef coats. This is a surefire way to ensure you have clean chef coats on hand when you need them and that stains and damage to chef uniforms, including coats, will be tended to promptly. This takes the stress off you and helps make sure your chef coats stay bright and white.


Dawn Platinum EZ-Squeeze, Refreshing Rain Scent. Procter & Gamble. 

OxiClean. Church & Dwight Co. Inc.

Persil Laundry Detergent. Henkel Corporation. 

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