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How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes

It's easy to get an oil or grease stain - and it's also easy to get rid of them, too! Read on for a step-by-step guide to removing oil stains from clothes.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

how to remove oil stains from clothes

Oil stains can easily happen, and (fortunately) they’re just as easy to shift. This step-by-step guide provides instructions for getting oil and grease out from your everyday clothing and delicates, along with general tips on both home remedies and commercial products.

If you’re wondering, “Can oil stains be removed from clothing?”, don’t worry – detergents like Breeze Liquid Detergent and dishwashing soaps like Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid make it easy to remove oil and grease stains from cooking!

How Can We Remove Oil Stains from Clothes: General Tips

  • Act quickly. Just like with blood or sauce stains, the faster you start working on oil, the easier it will be to remove. Even a few hours can make a big difference, and waiting a few days to treat a grease stain can be disastrous.

  • Read the garment care label first. Before you do anything, you should always check first to see what the clothing manufacturer advises. Hot water is generally best for removing oil stains, but first, you must make sure that hot water will not damage your fabric.

  • Never machine-dry clothing before an oil stain has been removed. The high heat of the dryer will cause an oil stain to set in the fabric, so check your clothing carefully before you put it in a machine dryer.

  • Blot the stain gently first to remove excess grease. Use a tissue, paper towel, or cotton swab to press gently against the stain on both sides of the fabric. Do not rub into the stain, just soak up the excess oil.

How to Remove Oil Stains from Everyday Clothing

For everyday, non-delicate clothing, there are a number of easy-to-use commercial and home remedies which can help you remove grease stains.

  • Laundry detergents (we like Surf Concentrated Liquid Detergent) are specially designed to work on grease and oil stains. Pre-treat the stain first with the detergent (always read the directions on the product, as well as the care label of garment). Allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes and gently dab the stain under a stream of hot water, before machine washing according to the garment care label.

  • Dishwashing bars or liquids (we like Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid) cut through grease on your dirtiest dishes, so many people recommend it to treat grease on your everyday clothes. Use hot water and Sunlight. Cover the stain in the dishwashing liquid, and gently use an old, clean toothbrush in circular motions to rub the product into the stain. Remember to test your product on a small, inconspicuous area first.

  • Afterwards, rinse with hot water. If the stain persists, you may need to repeat the application and rinse the stain again.

  • Once the stain has been visibly removed, put the clothes into your washing machine and wash it at the highest heat possible, according to the garment care tag.

Person cleaning oil stains from clothes
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How Do You Remove Oil Stains from Clothes: Delicate Clothing

Delicate fabrics may be damaged if you rub away at any stains. Thankfully, here are a few handy tips to help you with your delicates.

  • Some laundry detergents can be used on delicate clothing, too. Read the directions on the label to find out.

  • Another good solution is to cover the stain fully with talcum powder, baby powder, or cornstarch.

  • Leave the garment covered in the powder in a warm place for a few hours or even overnight. The warm temperature will cause the powder to absorb the oil from the fabric.

  • Brush away the powder. If the grease stain is still there, repeat.

  • Afterwards, wash the clothing according to the garment care label.

How To Remove Grease Stains From Clothes Requiring Dry Cleaning

If your clothing requires dry cleaning, it’s advised you take it to a dry cleaner as soon as possible. Before you reach the dry cleaners, try sprinkling the stain first with an absorbent powder (talcum powder, baby powder, or corn starch). This may make it easier for the dry cleaner to remove the stain — or it may remove the stain all together, saving you a trip to the dry cleaners.

The above tips should make it simple for you to remove oil stains after a cooking or dining spill — keeping your clothes looking fresh and spotless, and your cleaning method hassle-free.

  • Remember to always consult the care label on your garment to check if it is safe to attempt stain removal yourself at home.

  • Even if your item is dry clean only, you could try sprinkling it with an absorbent powder (talcum powder, baby powder, or corn starch) before taking it to the dry cleaners. This will help to absorb the oil and make it easier for the dry cleaner to remove.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on how to remove oil stains from clothes

How do you remove motor oil stains from clothes?

Following our easy guide above for how to remove motor oil stains from clothes is the best advice we can give. Whether you take the route of commercial products such as laundry detergents or a natural home remedy such as cornstarch there are plenty of options to remove the stains from both every day and delicate clothing.

How do you remove set-in oil stains from clothes?

If you want to know how to remove oil stains from clothes set in to clothing, we’ve got your covered. In this instance the best stain remover is a baking soda paste. Allow the paste to sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it under clean, warm water.

Why is my washing machine leaving oil on my clothes?

If you have noticed washing machine oil on clothes, it is likely there is damage to the rubber elements of your machine. If the rubber degrades or becomes worn through, it can allow the oil and grease from inside the machine to escape into the drum and deposit on your clothing during the wash cycle.

How do you remove oil stains from fabrics?

The steps to remove oil stains from fabric are the same as those for removing oil from clothing. Additional oil stain remover ideas include using talcum powder and a 1:4 mix of salt and rubbing alcohol.

Originally published