How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes

It's a common misconception that oil stains are permanent, but with the tips in this how to guide, you can say goodbye to them for good.

Top Tip

Don’t attempt to spot remove oil stains with water! Grease and oil are not water-soluble, so you could end up spreading the stain and making it even trickier to remove.

Whether it’s from cooking oil or riding your bike, getting oil out of clothes can be incredibly tricky. Follow this straightforward guide on removing oil stains from clothes, with useful information on fabric types, pre-treatment options and washing cycles.

How to Get Oil Stains Out of Clothes

Pre-treating fresh oil stains

When getting oil out of clothes, you need to work fast! If you have some available, sprinkle some baby powder or cornstarch onto the stain – the ultra-fine powder should soak up much of the excess oil out of the fabric. Leave for around 30 minutes, then dust off and launder the item according to the care instructions. Because it sits on top of the fabric, this method is safe for most materials, including hand-wash delicates and dry clean only garments.

Pre-treating old oil stains

Removing dried-in oil stains from clothes is trickier, but it’s worth persevering. On colour fast garments, try spot-treating with a mild washing up liquid or baby shampoo – both are designed to combat grease and will disperse the oil particles from the fabric. Gently rub the liquid into both sides of the stain until it begins to fade. Leave to rest for 30 minutes, then launder as usual. Remember, test any stain removal method on an inconspicuous area, such as an inside hem.

Machine washing for getting oil out of clothes

Once you’ve pre-treated the stain, check the care label and follow the washing instructions to launder the garment as usual. For clothes that can be machine washed, use an advanced laundry liquid, such as OMO Ultimate, which actively lifts stains – even ones that have been dried in for 48 hours. Use the hottest wash that the fabric will allow, which should help to further disperse the stain. Do not machine dry the garment if the oil stain remains – the dry heat will ‘set’ the stain into the fabric and will be very difficult to remove.

Removing oil stains from clothes through dry cleaning

For dry clean only garments, first pre-treat fresh oil stains using baby powder or cornstarch, as before. However, do not pre-treat using a liquid detergent, as this can damage the fabric or lift the colour. Always point out the stain to the dry cleaner, and explain what caused it so they can treat it accordingly.

how to remove oil stains