Chocolate & Your Clothes: A Love Story
Everybody loves chocolate. Sure, you probably know people who’d typically choose gummy bears or vanilla flavored candy to chocolate, but according to science, chocolate is “better than kissing” when it comes to our physical response to it. Because chocolate contains a number of different stimulants, it boosts energy and raises endorphin levels. Small, regular doses of dark chocolate are said to increase athletic performance in active individuals and supposedly lengthen one’s lifespan. Plus it tastes good (according to, we’d say, most people).
BUT: have you ever been enjoying a candy bar in a dark movie theater only to realize at the end that there are specks of melted chocolate all over your clothes?
Chocolate candy is usually made from a combination of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. Cocoa butter is essentially just plant-based oils, but cocoa powder is a little trickier in terms of staining — it contains minerals with heavy metals like calcium, copper, zinc and magnesium, in addition to flavonoids (plant pigments) and caffeine. Neither flavonoids nor caffeine are stable at higher temperatures and they both tend to oxidize when exposed to air.
When your clothes are stained with chocolate or chocolate-containing foods, you don’t want to use baking soda to treat the stain, because the heavy metal minerals will react to become insoluble. Vinegar and lemon juice aren’t a great treatment either because their acidity can denature the flavonoids and caffeine, making them even harder to remove. Also avoid (to the best of your ability) exposing the stains to air over an extended period of time — the flavonoids can become absorbed into fabrics and react with the fibers and oxygen to leave chocolate-colored, very-hard-to-remove stains.
To get rid of chocolate stains: remove the bulk of the chocolate as soon as possible. Use a laundry detergent (or dish soap if you don’t have immediate access to laundry detergent) to pretreat the stain for 5-10 minutes and then immediately wash the garment using the same detergent in cold water.
And let experience be your lesson: next time you’re eating chocolate, perhaps consider a napkin.