Getting rid of curcumin stains

August 1 2007 post: 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! ;-)

January 17 2009 post. Last month I received a message from a myeloma list friend informing me that she began taking curcumin because her IgA was steadily increasing. On curcumin, she wrote, her IgA was still increasing but at a lower rate, which she found encouraging.


At that point she was taking three grams of curcumin a day. When she tried increasing to four grams, she noticed that, and I quote, yellow dye was being excreted from my skin. I noticed it when I dried my face and there was yellow on the towel. I also noticed that my nails were yellow. I know you have been taking curcumin at a higher dose for quite a while and wondered if you had that side effect and whether it bothered you if it did. In any case, I’ve reduced the dose to 2 grams a day and at that dose it seems OK–no yellow nails.


Last year, a blog reader/dear friend also reported a similar problem with the colour yellow. He was sweating yellow during the night…to the point of staining a brand new set of sheets.


Then, just a couple of days ago, I received a contact message from a blog reader informing me that her husband seems to be turning yellow. It was time for me to look into the matter.


The first of the three cases may be connected with the actual handling of curcumin, although my friend didn’t think so. But, in addition to being used for many medicinal purposes in India, turmeric (from which curcumin is extracted) is also used as a textile dye. Very true, curcumin stains like crazy. Whenever I handle the yellow-orange powder, I stain everything I touch. No matter how careful I am, curcumin always “outsmarts” me. My hands turn yellow. Everything I touch or wear turns yellow. And one day, jumping onto the kitchen counter just as I was measuring out my daily amount of curcumin powder, Piccolo, my male cat, managed to stain the white underside of his paws. Eh, he didn’t care for that at all and almost licked himself into a trance. His paws remained yellow for a few days…he was very upset.


Well, I finally did an online search to see if I could come up with an explanation of sorts. Almost immediately, I found a thread that dealt with this problem. Super!, I thought. Someone reported that Within 8 hours of taking one Curcumin capsule, however, the fingers on my right hand will begin to yellow along with small yellow splotches on the palm. The real strange thing is, my mother developes the exact same yellowing on her right hand. I know it’s not from handling the capsules, so does anyone have any clue what is causing this?


Other thread readers offered various suggestions and ideas, but then, at the end, the person who had introduced the yellowing topic confessed: Let the truth be told. I am a moron. Yep, it was just from the excess powder that was outside the capsules. It was even all around the top of the bottle, so simply opening it would get a small amount of the residue on my hand. I also know why I only noticed it in the morning. My apartment is lit with “yellow” light so I couldn’t see it. It was only until I went out on my deck in the morning with my coffee that I could notice the staining!


I reported this story because I thought it might be useful: even curcumin capsules can stain your fingers yellow. It still doesn’t seem to explain my three blog readers’ “yellowing” experiences…


In conclusion, all I can say is that I have never had inexplicable yellow sweat, yellow skin or yellow anything… The yellowing of my hands, face and clothes has always been caused by my own carelessness.

I am puzzled, I confess. I thought that perhaps those affected by yellowing should have their liver function tested (always a good idea, as part of a regular check-up)…I should note, though, that curcumin has a protective effect on the liver. I give up.


  1. My husband and I have also experienced yellow sweat, stained clothing (from the sweat) and yellow nails. We take curcumin twice a day, 875mg per capsule. I don’t handle the powder at all, just take capsules. I know there can be powder on the outside of the capsule, but that wouldn’t explain the sweat, which, btw, is bright lemon-yellow, not anything close to ordinary. I think I’ll cut down to one capsule a day! I was glad to find this page and see that it has happened to others.

    1. i too have yellow sweat. im so glad i found this thread. the discoloring is all over my sheets. i am also post menopausal so i have night sweats. i thought the yellow was coming from my fingers but the placement of the stains makes me believe i am sweating yellow during the niight.

  2. I wanted to comment on the yellowing of the skin…I also had this problem a couple of months back when I started using tumeric! The staining was coming out in my feet and fingers and hands!!! I backed off on the use of tumeric but recently started using it again. I do…however…have liver problems…although all tests are normal.

    Liver flushing has helped tremendously and so far no staining but I am only used about 1 teaspoon a day. By the way how many teaspoons are in 8 grams and CONGRATS ON CONTROLLING YOUR MYELOMA WITH CURCUMIN???

    I have a meningioma which I’m hoping to reduce with the tumeric. I can also tell you that it helps tremendously with my mood!


  3. I also have SMM IgA and looked down to see yellow nails and a yellow palm on my right hand at a dose of 4grams of curcumin and biop. When I stopped for a day, it disappeared. Tried 500 the following day and it reappeared. So, I’m going off for a week and then retry, limiting the dose to 2 grams. If it’s metabolized through the liver like most herbs/drugs, it would seem to make sense that I began to yellow! It definitely has an anti-inflammatory effect as I could feel a definite increase in stiffness when I stopped. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll check back with an update.

  4. I should update my previous comments. I really thought the stains were coming through my skin, but I’m not so sure anymore because I changed brands and it stopped. I’m fairly convinced that some of the pills have escaped powder on the exterior of the capsule and some brands are cleaner. So maybe the stuff is just so pigment-dense that it gets everywhere without our realizing it. Thanks, Reina for mentioning the pain relief you get from it. Good to know.

  5. I have been taking curcumin at 8grams for almost a year now. My sheets are yellow and so are my soxs, I have not noticed it coming through my skin, but it must be if I am getting those stains on my sheets. My liver function seems fine from all the tests that I have had and the curcumin is controlling my levels.

  6. You can get rid of the yellow stains in fabric by rubbing hand soap into the stain and then putting it out in the sun. The yellow stain will disappear like magic!

  7. I don’t have myeloma, but I do take curcumin and through sweat it has stained my sheets and also my keyboard on my computer. You can even tell what keys I use for my passwords as they are really yellow. Thank you for clearing this up for me, as I wondered what was making things yellow and getting quite worried.

    1. I’m definitely sweating yellow from the turmeric. Thank you all so much for helping me figure this out. The yellow was driving me crazy. I could not figure out where it was coming from. My nails and hands were always yellow no matter how careful I was. I just figured somehow I was getting the powder on me when I took my capsules. This morning the front of my night shirt is bright yellow. I have terrible night sweats. I think I’m going to scale back to 1 capsule and see if that helps

  8. I thought it was just me but glad to read others have also had the yellow staining. mine has been just on my right baby finger, sometimes on my palm, and also on my pillow case and white night shirt. i use doctor’s best or the vitacost curcumin, wonder if it is the brand? don’t know that it has kept my MM numbers down but definitely has made a difference in my red blood numbers and brought me over the threshold of not being anemic.

  9. Look at it this way…if it’s coming out of your pores (sweat, body oils) it’s probably working. To get the stains out of fabric add washing soda along with detergent, in your wash machine. I use 1 cup with less detergent.


  10. I am thrilled to have found an article explaining my “yellow sweat” problem! I first noticed it on my white bra. I don’t think I take in a lot of Turmeric daily; I just add it to some “hearty soups” to improve the flavor. I plan to keep on using it, so I’m glad to have some helpful hints about how to get the stains out!

  11. I tried a new stirfry turkey recipe to which I added a teaspoon of tumeric instead of paprika; (also added cumin and paprika to offset the tumeric) couple of hours later my 10 fingernails were psychedelic yellow-greenish. I felt fine and the color faded was gone within 24 hours. have been looking for explanation which I haven’t found, but glad to hear others react to curcumin (in tumeric) too.

  12. I’ve been taking turmeric for about a year now, with curcumin, 900 mg – I upped it to 4 times a day and now recently I’m noticing yellow on my pjs in the morning – on my right thigh area – none on my skin or nails. At first I thought I must’ve been rubbing my hands down the front of my thigh, but it would take a lot of it for that to be it. It can only be through sweat when I sleep – although I’m not usually much of a sweat-er. It washes out fine in the washer – and I’ve been paying attention to what it can be and that’s the only thing I can think of. So, I’m going to cut down to 900 mg once a day for a few months to see if it stops.

  13. I’m so glad I found this thread! I’ve been taking turmeric for YEARS, with no problem…until today! I recently bought a new brand of turmeric, and have noticed my chronic back pain has been less since I’ve been taking it… about a week. But today, when I cleaned my face with astringent, my pad was lemon yellow! I cleaned my neck, same thing! Back of the neck, same thing! Upper back and chest, yup! Stomach and under my boobs, too! My first thought was the turmeric, but it’s never happened before, so I got a bit concerned! SO glad to know it’s not fatal, lol!

  14. Yup. The yellow comes out in my sweat when I play tennis. My white hat around the back has yellow stains. I sweat from the back of my head a lot. Also, I wipe my face on my wrist sweat band and it gets yellow and even my I watch band turns a dingy yellow.

  15. I just recently started taking Curcumin capsules and didn’t think about the dust on the outside of the capsules. Right after, I threw a load of white clothes in the washing machine only to realize at the end of the cycle that I now had spotting clothing. To make matters worse, I took each piece and used baking powder and white vinegar to start the removal process. DO NOT soak clothes in a tub. The curcumin will spread. Whatamess. I’ve learned a lot. By the way, when I highlight a word while doing this, the highlight color is YELLOW. It’s too funny. Okay, back to removal. After scrubbing with a toothbrush and the white vinegar and baking soda, I set each piece to dry. It will dry with a reddish color. I repeated it all over again. Then, I washed the clothing in the machine with some soap and laid them out in the sun. I did this twice and most of the stain is gone or barely noticeable. It was a LOT of work but it felt good to somewhat conquer the battle. I’m sure there’s a much better way to do it and am looking forward to learning what it is!

  16. direct sunlight is the only thing I’ve found that eliminates stains from turmeric used for cooking and curcumin powder/supplements. I’ve never figured out how to eliminate stains where the sun does not shine, and I mean that literally. The Dr. who did our colonoscopies insisted we had not done a thorough prep because our colons were yellow, not rosy pink, as seen through the “camera”.

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