Getting Rid Of Curcumin Stains

Last year, for months I mixed curcumin powder with all sorts of fat concoctions (coconut milk, flaxseed oil etc.), in an attempt to find a palatable one. No matter how careful I was, the bright yellow powder seemed to end up on, and stain!, every surface in my kitchen–my white kitchen counter, my black and white male cat (whose white paws turned yellow and stayed yellow for weeks), and everything I wore, including two of my good white cotton turtlenecks. After the first week, I learned my lesson, duh!, and began wearing dark clothing and a black apron. I also handled the powder over my stainless steel sink, not over my kitchen counter (I had to use bleach to get rid of the yellow stains on the counter). At any rate, I thought the clothing stains would be permanent, since turmeric is used as a dye in India. Hmmm, well, I may have been wrong. Perhaps those stains will finally come out.

Yesterday, in fact, I read a Boston Globe article written by Dr. Knowledge (two physicists from Northeastern University, actually). Dr. Knowledge tells us a few things that we already know, that turmeric contains more or less 5% of its active ingredient, i.e., curcumin (5 to 8%, as far as I know), and that curcumin dissolves in oil and alcohol but not in water. And that, the physicists say, is why water will not get rid of curcumin stains. In fact, they say, if you put some curcumin powder and some water in a bottle and shake it, the water will not turn yellow but remain pretty much clear, but if you shake a bottle containing curcumin powder with oil or alcohol, you will end up with a bright yellow/orange mixture. I have actually tried doing that, and it is true! So, what about those stains?

Why does turmeric create such stubborn stains, and how can they be removed? Boston Globe. July 23, 2007
[ ] This leads to the first thing you can do to try to get curcumin stains out — try using alcohol or oil. Of course you then need to get the alcohol or oil out which you can do by flushing with water (in the case of alcohol) or washing with soap or detergent (in the case of oil). Curcumin is also fairly unstable in the presence of ultraviolet light, so you can “bleach” out the stain by leaving it in bright sunlight. You may also have some luck with bleach, but if you’re worried about damaging colored fabrics, the sunlight trick can be a good one.

By the way, you can read the full text of this Globe article at: I am going to try these remedies. Can’t hurt! Good luck with your curcumin stains, if you have any! 😉

1 Comment

  1. I too have had to battle the curcumin stains, since I must open nine capsules a day to mix it with my wife’s food, and some invariably spills and also gets on my hands, which now look like a three pack a day smoker’s. The simplest effective thing I have found to use is the alcohol based hand sanitizer gel. I can buy it very cheaply in quart bottles at Sam’s Club and just refill my expensive little counter top plunger bottle. Getting it off the counter tops requires several applications, with a new clean paper towel each time, because the old paper towel absorbs the yellow and just spreads it around, but thinner. Getting it off the clothes is another matter, especially the sides of my jeans, on which I reflexively wipe my hands. Rub some liquid detergent on the yellow stains and after washing it somewhat disappears, but not entirely. I need to buy it in bulk and dispense it with half teaspoon measures, but am slow to act on that idea so far.

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