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Removing Grease (Oil) Stains from Clothing

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Woman removing a Grease stain.

Grease or oil stains can be difficult to remove from clothing. This is a guide about removing grease (oil) stains from clothing.


Solutions: Removing Grease (Oil) Stains from Clothing

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Lestoil For Stains

I went on this website to get ideas for removing dry-erase marker stains from clothing as my son comes home from Pre-K frequently with these stains. After trying a few of the suggested solutions and still having a visible stain, I remembered that my mom used to use Lestoil heavy-duty cleaner to remove tough stains from clothes when I was a kid. The product is still around today, and works to remove various tough stains from clothes, including grease and tar. I tried it on the dry-erase marker stain and it worked! I was so relieved as the shirt that was stained was a designer shirt. I just had to share this great tip with any other stressed-out parents dealing with dry-erase marker stains I wish they still used chalkboards in school!

By Kate from Cape May, NJ

Tip: Removing Tar and Grease from Clothing

For removing tar and grease from clothing, I first use some WD-40 and work it into the spot until it starts to break down. Then I use some cream-type hand cleaner (available at an auto-parts store) and rub that into the remaining spot. Then, if needed, I use a small bit of baby shampoo and warm water to remove anything that is left before tossing in the clothes washer. This has always worked with even the hardest roofing tars and auto grease stains. Good Luck!

    By Terence R. [1]

    Tip: How to Get Grease Out of Fabrics

    Grease stains can be caused by a number of things including motor oil, cooking oils, animal fat, salad dressings, and fried foods. For light stains on washable fabrics, a simple laundry pre-treat is usually all that is needed to remove many stains. On dry-cleanable fabrics (or for heavy stains on washable fabrics), it's often necessary to use a solvent (dry spotter) to break down and remove the oil.

    Three Basic Rules for Grease Stains

    1. Act fast for best results. Fresh grease stains can be fairly easy to remove if you act quickly. However, once heated or left to oxidize (which can happen within a matter of hours), the stains will darken in color and become difficult, or even impossible, to remove.

    2. Don't treat grease with water. Oils are hydrophobic, they don't break down with water. Grabbing a wet cloth to wipe up a greasy, oily stain will only make the stain bigger and more difficult to remove.

    3. Before committing to any cleaning agent or technique, pretest it on an inconspicuous area of the fabric.

    Treating Fresh Stains

    Step 1: If any solid material remains on the surface of the fabric (e.g. a glob of butter or salad dressing) gently scrape off as much as possible using your fingernail or the edge of a spoon. Work outward from the center using light strokes. Take care not to press too hard or you'll drive the grease deeper into the fabric.

    Step 2: Apply an absorbent like cornstarch, baking powder, or talcum powder to the stain and leave it on long enough to absorb as much of the grease as possible. This may take from 30 minutes to a few hours. To remove the absorbent, invert the fabric while holding it over a sink or garbage can and gently shake off the excess. Brush the stain gently with a stiff bristled brush.

    Step 3: For washable fabrics, treat with a laundry pre-treat and launder in hot water; air dry. For dry-clean only fabrics, sponge the dry fabric with a dry spotter (dry cleaning solvent) until the stain is gone (see below).

    Treating Older Stains (post-oxidation or heat)

    Washable fabrics: Treat older grease stains from gravy, soup, mayonnaise, and other oily foods by applying a petroleum-based dish soap to the stain, allowing it to soak in for 30 minutes to 1 hour. After soaking, machine-wash the item in warm water. If the stain remains after washing, don't hot-air dry or iron the fabric. Let it air dry completely and try sponging it with a dry spotter. Tip: Use petroleum-based dish soap only. Plant-based soaps will not work. Also, to avoid discoloring the fabric use clear dish liquid only, nothing colored.

    Dry-clean only fabrics: Using a cotton swab or a cloth pad, apply a dry spotter and a few drops of mineral spirits to the fabric, letting it soak in for a few minutes until saturated. Blot with a clean cloth and repeat until the stain is removed. When finished, dab the fabric with cool water and dry flat.

    Stain-cleaner Definitions

    Dry-cleaning fluid (dry spotter): Dry spotters are effective in removing oily and greasy stains, especially from water-sensitive fabrics. They can be used on virtually any fabric without damage, and will not set stains. (Always perform a pretest just in case.) They are commonly available where laundry detergents are sold or can be purchased from local dry cleaners (K2r and Afta are common examples). Use them sparingly on upholstery and carpet, as these types of solvents tend to deteriorate the foam and stuffing used in upholstery cushions and the latex adhesives used to glue carpeting together. Dry spotters should only be used on dry fabric in a well-ventilated area (preferably outdoors). Never use them on clothing that you haven't taken off yet and keep them out of reach of children!

    Laundry Pre-treats (combination solvents): These cleaning agents can help remove a lot of greasy stains just in the course of routine laundering. Pre-treats are applied and allowed to soak into the stain for a few minutes before washing (follow label directions). Common examples of pre-treats include Shout and Spray n Wash. Pre-treats need to be rinsed out or laundered after use, and should not be allowed to dry on the fabric.

    Remember, there is no single technique or product that takes care of every stain on every type of fabric. If a fabric isn't washable or is very expensive, the absolute safest thing you can do is take it to a professional cleaner. Show them the stain and tell them (if possible) what caused it and what you have done to try to remove it. Then keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best!

      By EllenB [21]

      Tip: Treat Oil Stains Right Away With Flour/Baby Powder

      To remove a stain from an oil drop on your clothes, cover the stain with flour or baby powder for few hours or even over night. Then brush flour or the powder and the stain is removed. You have to do it immediately while the stain is fresh.

      By Dana from Palo Alto, CA

      Tip: Automotive Hand Cleaner for Laundry

      All oil based stains can be cleaned by using the waterless hand cleaner you find in the automotive department.

      I use it on salad dressing a lot. It is very safe. Any thing that is oil based this works great on. Just rub on the spot and put in the wash as usual.

      By Rosemary from Ludlow Falls, OH

      Tip: Body Oil Stains On Clothing

      To remove body oil stains from collars and cuffs of colored shirts and blouses, rub hair shampoo directly on the stains. Rinse out the shampoo, then wash the clothes as usual.

      By Chell

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      Here are questions related to Removing Grease (Oil) Stains from Clothing.

      Question: Removing Diesel Oil and Grease from Clothing

      How can I remove diesel oil and grease from clothing after it has set in?

      By Joseph


      Most Recent Answer

      By Luana M. [82]09/21/2012

      I have tried many things,used many things finally I can recommend one thing I know for sure works. On there is a product called S2O. They have laundry sheets and a liquid stain remover. Made from organic products, made especially for removing oil, grease, stains that nothing else I have heard of does.

      The laundry sheets are affordable, less than any store brands for sure.I only need 1 sheet per load,comes out to about 40 cents a load. You do not need boosters, pre-wash products not even bleach. The liquid is what is in sheets just in stronger form. The scientist that made it shows a demo where he dumps axle grease right on fabric and it dissolves away from clothes. Old stains as well as new.

      They have 30 day money back guarantee, give it a try. I was amazed just how it removes under arm stains,ring around the collar (all is oil based) then can get out blood. I hope you find it as helpful as I have. Once again it is called S2O. There is a 800 number or you can look it up on Luck your way saving money on clothes!

      Question: Grease Stain on Cotton Shorts

      Just recently as I was eating a quesadilla, grease spilled out of the end of the piece I was eating and spilled on my shorts. The shorts are 100% cotton. I washed them once and hang dried them and the stains are still there. Any ideas on the best method to remove the stain?

      Thanks in advance,



      Most Recent Answer

      By b09/09/2009

      I have had good luck removing grease stains from cotten tee shirts, etc using Shout and Neutragena shampoo. I spray the stain with the Shout then add a generous coating of the neutragena shampoo. Then soak in cold water for a couple of hours before washing as normal. I have had to treat a stain twice on occasion. Good luck!

      Question: Removing Carmex Stains from Clothing

      My son left his tube of Carmex in his jeans pocket and ruined a load of his clothes. Most hit were the t-shirts, some of which he didn't want to trash yet. Any ideas to get this kind of grease stain out? Already tried good old pre-spot, and they've already been dried. Is it hopeless?

      Most Recent Answer

      By Dee07/27/2009

      Okay, I joined this website to thank everyone above for all your help. I went out on a limb and tried something alittle diffrent. I soaked the clothes in Dish Detergent (Not even Dawn it was Joy) and bought Oxi Clean Max Force. I couldn't even see the stains because the shirts were all wet, so I jusr randomly sprayed. Put the clothes back in the washer and dryer, and no more stains. The clothes had the stains for over a month and I assumed it was just too late. But that Oxi Clean wasn't playing, it was only about 4 bucks but was worth it. Didn't even use half the bottle.

      Question: Grease Stain Removal from Clothing

      i bought a pair of lovely royal blue cotton trousers, but something leaked in my bag, it was grease. I washed them straight away, but alas the stain was still there. So this time I massaged Fairy liquid into the area and washed again; now there's a small amount of stain left, but it is noticeable. What can I do now?

      By Mandy

      Most Recent Answer

      By freebyrdz [4]04/20/2012

      Rub Dawn dish washing liquid onto the stain and throw into the washer.

      Question: Grease Stains on Beige Pants

      I have grease or oil from a pickup truck on my beige 100% cotton pants. How can I get this stain out on the first try without ruining my pants?


      Most Recent Answer

      By ciara5 (Guest Post)01/11/2005

      i poured juice on my pants and i cant get it out. pleaz help me.