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How to remove grease from clothes

Don’t panic – grease marks are easier to get out than you think.

Updated

grease stain on clothing about to be washed

A splash of grease from the frying pan or a greasy stain on your work clothes needn’t be a laundry nightmare. Getting grease out can often be much simpler than dealing with other types of stains as oily substances can be effectively broken down by most soap-based products, such as washing detergent. Read on to find out how to remove grease from clothes.

Removing grease stains from clothes: 3 top tips

1. Act fast

You stand the best chance of getting a grease stain out if you get to it quickly. Don’t give it time to set in the material. Dealing with the stain ASAP is key.

2. Avoid water

Don’t try to apply water to grease (unless you’re mixing it with some kind of detergent). Grease doesn’t mix well with H2O and you actually run the risk of making the stain worse.

3. Be fabric savvy

Always check the label on the garment – those instructions trump all others. If the item is dry clean you’ll be best off taking it to a professional cleaner. It’s also not a good idea to use the detergents mentioned below on delicate or speciality fabrics, such as silk, suede or velvet.

What removes grease from clothing?

Household products such as laundry detergent or washing-up liquid are your go-to choices, as grease is relatively easily broken down by soap-based products.

Depending on what you have handy in your home, pick from one of our methods below and learn how to remove grease from clothes for good.

You will need:

  • Tissue or dry paper towel
  • A piece of cardboard or a towel
  • Washing machine
  • Toothbrush
  • Liquid biological detergent
  • Small amount of water
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Shampoo
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Hairspray
  • Cornflour or baby powder

Method

  1. Smooth out the fabric

    Make sure the stain is flat and easily accessible.

  2. Add the cardboard backing

    Place the cardboard or towel inside the garment, under the stain. This will absorb water and protect the rest of the fabric.

  3. Begin gently dabbing

    Carefully dab any excess grease with a tissue or paper towel.

  4. Make up a cleaning mixture

    Dilute a teaspoon or so of liquid biological detergent with a small amount of water.

  5. Gently rub the mix in

    Apply the solution to the stain and rub gently with your fingers.

  6. Rinse

    Rinse the garment under a running tap.

  7. Wash your garment

    Check the care label on your item and wash on the hottest setting suitable for the fabric.

  8. Check if the stain has gone

    Make sure the stain has been completely removed before drying; if not repeat the stain removal process or try the method below.

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How to get grease out of clothes using dishwashing detergent

Although it’s usually best to use a product designed for cleaning clothes, liquid dishwashing detergent can also be a great way of removing grease stains from clothes. Again, all you’ll need is some tissue or dry paper towel, washing up liquid and a piece of cardboard.

  1. Lay out the garment flat and place the cardboard or towel inside, under the stain.

  2. Carefully dab any excess grease with a tissue or paper towel.

  3. Dilute a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent with water.

  4. Using your fingers, gently work the detergent into the fabric. You should see the stain begin to dissolve almost immediately as most dish detergents absorb grease directly.

  5. Rinse the detergent off.

  6. Wash normally with laundry detergent.

How to remove grease stains from clothes using shampoo

Shampoo is another soap-based product like laundry detergent that is also great at tackling grease.

  1. Pour a small amount of shampoo onto the stain (but making sure to cover it).

  2. Leave for 10 minutes.

  3. Wash in the machine on your regular cycle.

If you’ve spilt cooking oil on your clothes, check out our guide: How to get cooking oil out of clothing.

3 ways to remove old grease stains from clothes

If you miss a grease stain and it goes through the wash and tumble dryer it will be more tricky to remove but not impossible.

1. The washing-up liquid method

  1. Start by laying out your stained clothing, ensuring it is flat and the stain is visible for you to work on.

  2. Place a piece of cardboard or an old towel beneath the stain and between the front and back of the garment (this is to stop the washing-up liquid soaking through).

  3. Spread washing-up liquid over the top of the stain so it is completely covered.

  4. Leave the washing-up liquid to soak into the stain for about 10 minutes.

  5. Using a toothbrush, scrub the stain using a circular motion. You want to be gentle enough to not damage the fabric, but firm enough to thoroughly work the washing-up liquid into the stain.

  6. Wash your clothes on your normal wash, using the hottest water recommended for the fabric (check this on the care label).

  7. Once you have removed your clothes from the wash, check the stain is fully removed.

  8. If you notice there are some stubborn stain marks left behind, repeat steps 1-6.

2. The aloe vera method

The amino acids in aloe vera are great at breaking up grease. Try to use 100 per cent aloe vera as it works the best.

  1. Lay out your garment so the stain is flat and easy to access.

  2. Dampen the stain area with cold water.

  3. Rub aloe vera gel in for a couple of minutes.

  4. Wash the item (cold water is recommended).

3. The hairspray method

It might sound a little ridiculous but hairspray is great at working on dried grease stains (it’s also pretty good at getting pen marks out of fabrics too). Grab a piece of cardboard and a can of hairspray, and follow these steps:

  1. Lay your garment out flat.

  2. Place the cardboard or towel underneath the stain and between the fabric (you don’t want the hairspray going through to the other side of the clothing).

  3. Apply hairspray so the stain is damp.

  4. Allow the hairspray to do its stuff on the grease (20-30 minutes should do it).

  5. Wash in your machine according to the care label instructions.

How to remove grease stains from delicates

You’ll want to take extra care with fabrics such as silk, satin and dry-clean only garments. You’ll need some tissue or dry paper towel and some cornflour or baby powder. A clean toothbrush can come in handy as well.

  1. If there is any excess grease dab at it with a tissue or paper towel (be careful not to rub the grease in further).

  2. Sprinkle on an ample amount of cornflour or baby powder, making sure to cover the stain completely.

  3. The stain will slowly be absorbed by the flour/powder – for best results, leave it overnight.

  4. Either shake off the powder or brush it off gently with a clean toothbrush.

  5. Wash as directed by the fabric care label (get it dry cleaned if necessary).

We have more guidance here on how to remove oil stains from clothes, including general tips and ways to remove oil from delicate garments.

How to remove grease stains with a stain remover

You can also opt to use a commercial stain remover – just make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

It’s always best to test any product on an inconspicuous spot on your garment to ensure it doesn't affect the material (under a collar or hem, for example).

And remember, getting to the stain as quickly as possible is the best way to ensure it comes out.

How do you get dried oil stains out of clothes?

It’s a bit more difficult, but you can remove already-dry oil stains from your clothing using the same technique you would with grease.

You can use washing up liquid, aloe vera or even hairspray – just be sure to follow the instructions we’ve outlined above for best results.

Been working on your bike or car? Read our tips on how to get bike and car oil out of your clothes.

Originally published