Who doesn’t know the feeling of looking down only to find a nasty stain on your favorite shirt? Don’t worry, this happens to everyone. Whether you’re super careful or a little bit reckless, everyone ends up with a stain on their clothes now and then. It’s unavoidable, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
When it comes to annoying stains, oil stains are by far the worst. Oil and grease are two types of stains that are notoriously difficult to remove from all kinds of fabrics. They are also, oh, the irony, very common. Who here has never eaten something particularly oily? As you indulge in your favorite food of choice, a tiny stumble is enough to put your clothes in jeopardy.
Although removing oil from clothes is no easy feat, it is possible and it can be done. All you need is to use the right methods. How to remove oil stains from clothes, you might be asking? You’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to find out how to get out an oil stain from clothes.
Why is Oil So Difficult To Clean?
As you spent time scrubbing your favorite shirt down to bare threads, you might have wondered why exactly oil is so difficult to remove from clothes. The answer lies in basic chemistry. Most oils and greases are semi-solid or even solid at room temperatures. This means that removing them requires warm or hot water.
Another reason might lie in the fabric. Cotton is not too bad, but synthetic fibers such as polyester are a huge pain when it comes to oil stain removal. Due to the fact that grease and oil are especially attracted to these types of fabrics, the stains are especially persistent on synthetics. The worst part of it all is that synthetic fibers are growing in popularity, which means that you may have to deal with these stains a lot more than you might ever want.
Various oil cleaners are available on the market, but the truth is, not all of them work. Not all of them are worth your while. Moreover, not all of them are safe to use on all types of fabric. As a result, removing oil stains out of clothes might feel like a minefield. You may end up with a settled stain, or you may end up with clothing damaged by using the wrong cleaning methods. One way or another, it’s hard to win.
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Let’s talk about the various ways how to get out oil stains on clothes.
Dried Stains vs Fresh Stains
The first distinction we need to make here is that fresh stains are much, much easier to clean. Before the oil truly permeates the fabric of your clothing, you have a small window of time that you can use to treat the stain. At that time, you have a much greater success rate than you will in just an hour or two after the stain first appears on your clothes.
However, sometimes it’s just not possible to clean the stain immediately. You may be out of the house or simply not notice that you’ve stained your shirt until some time had passed. In those cases, you will have to use different cleaning methods than you would have used right after the staining.
This is why, before we get into the different methods, we have to point out the main rule of treating oil stains — it has to be done quickly. The sooner, the better. Dried stains are still cleanable, but they take a lot more work, and may sometimes not come off entirely.
Whether the stain is old or new, you are not likely to get rid of it just with a regular washing cycle. Unfortunately, most oil stains require the use of special methods and additional products. The upside? A lot of these products are already found in your own home!
How To Get Out Oil Stains From Clothing — Fresh Stains
So it has happened — you find an oil stain on a piece of your clothing. Whether it’s a shirt, a pair of pants, or a dress is irrelevant. What matters is that you caught it soon after it happened and now, it’s time to act. This cannot be overstated — the sooner you treat the stain, the better. How to get oil stains out of clothing soon after the staining took place? There’s more than one way to go about it.
Remove oil stains using baking soda
Baking soda is a must-have in each and every home. It’s used to treat numerous stains, remove odors, and more. It’s almost magical how well it works, considering it’s not a chemical solution. One way or another, baking soda is the way to go when you want to remove oil stains that are still fresh.
While baking soda is great on fresh stains, it won’t work nearly as well on dried oil stains. This is why using it should be your first course of action when you spot the stain. However, don’t expect the process to be speedy — in fact, it may take a day or two for the whole cleaning process to be over and done with.
How does baking soda work? It’s simple but interesting. It pulls the oil out of fabrics and into itself. Baking soda has great moisture-wicking properties, which is what contributes to the success of this method. Below, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step and show you how to remove excess oil & old stains out of clothes.
Remove oil stains with baking soda — step-by-step
Removing oil stains with baking soda is quite straightforward and needs to be done soon after the staining.
You will need:
- Baking soda
- A paper towel or a dry cloth
- Some warm water or hot water
- Basic soap
- Scrubbing brush (or a soft brush for delicate fabrics)
- A spraying bottle
- A vacuum cleaner (optional)
Cleaning fabric with baking soda is split into two phases. The first phase begins right after the staining.
Remove oil stains with baking soda — phase one:
- This method is most effective right after the staining.
- First, remove the garment and set it down on a dry & hard surface.
- Next, dab at the stain with a paper towel or cloth. Soak up as much of the excess oil as possible.
- Take a generous amount of baking soda and set the stain with it.
- Cover up the entire stain and leave the baking soda to sit for 24 hours.
Remove oil stains out of clothes with baking soda — phase two:
- After 24 hours have passed, vacuum clean the baking soda away. Alternatively, brush it away using a long-bristled brush.
- Make a solution of vinegar and water, then fill a spray bottle with it.
- Shake the spray bottle gently to mix up the solution.
- Spray the entire affected area with the vinegar solution.
- Next, apply a generous amount of soap to the stain.
- Scrub the stain with a brush (be careful with delicate fabrics – make sure your clothing can take it).
- Rinse the soap with warm water.
- Repeat the process from the beginning if the stain remains.
Remove oil stains using chalk
If baking soda didn’t work for you, a great alternative is using chalk. Yes, chalk! Chalk works in the same way that baking soda does — it pulls the oil away from the fabric and into itself. However, much like baking soda, chalk is not too great at set-in stains or larger stains. For small and greasy stains, chalk will do great.
Keep in mind that not all fabrics will take well to chalk. We recommend first trying it on a hidden patch of clothing and then removing it with water. If it comes off well, proceed with the oil stain.
One upside of the chalk method over the baking soda method is that it’s quicker. You won’t be waiting 24 hours for the garment to be ready to wear.
You will need:
- A paper towel or a dry cloth
- Warm or hot water
- Washing machine & detergent
Remove oil stains with chalk — step-by-step:
- First, take off the piece of clothing and set it down on a hard, dry, clean surface.
- Dab at the stain with a paper towel. Press it into the stain to absorb all of the oil.
- Next, cover the entire stain with chalk. Be generous when you apply it and leave a thick layer of it.
- Set the stain for a few minutes, leave it to sit.
- After 15-20 minutes, rinse the chalk with warm water.
- Wash the item in the washing machine as soon as possible after that, using the right kind of laundry detergent.
How Do You Get Dried Oil Stains Out Of Clothes?
You now know the methods available to you for fresh oil stains, but what do you do to rid yourself of old, dried stains? They are certainly trickier, but there is hope yet for your favorite shirt or dress.
We must repeat the mantra, or the rule of thumb if you will, of cleaning all kinds of stains: the sooner you act, the better. If you leave the garment and the stain sets, you will have many more problems.
If you wonder how to remove oil stains from clothes once the stain has dried up, keep reading. We will guide you through the entire process step-by-step and help you get oil out of fabric.
What removes old oil stains from clothes at home?
Whether you’ve already washed the clothing or not, before we begin, please remember this tip: the clothing has to be dry when you try to clean it. If you wonder why, the answer lies in chemistry.
Oil and water do not mix. This means that when you work on wet fabric, the water coats the oil stain and prevents you from removing the oil. This is why methods like baking soda won’t work — water stops you from directly touching the stain. This, in turn, means that the oil doesn’t get soaked up.
If you want to have the best success in removing cooking oil or any other oil from fabrics, check out our step-by-step guide below.
How to get out oil stains from clothes — a step-by-step guide to old stains
As soon as you notice a stain, try to remove all the excess oil with a paper towel. Make sure you continue the rest of the cleaning process as soon as possible.
You will need:
- A piece of cardboard
- A paper towel or a clean cloth
- Liquid dish soap
- Warm or hot water
- Washing machine
- Washing detergent
Step-by-step instructions to remove old oil stains:
- Start by setting the garment on a hard surface which is dry and clean.
- Next, place a piece of cardboard behind the stain. This prevents the oil from transferring to the other side of the clothing as you work on the stain.
- Grab a piece of cloth, a napkin, or a paper towel. Blot it carefully on the surface of the stain. Make sure not to spread the oil outside of the stain and replace the paper towels as they get dirty.
- Apply a few drops of liquid dish soap to the surface of the stain. Set the stain and rub the dish soap gently into it. Alternatively, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a hoarse cloth.
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- Leave the dish soap to soak for about five to ten minutes.
- Rinse the garment with lukewarm water. Be thorough but gentle. You can place it underneath the tap, but make sure the stream of water is not too strong.
- Once that is done, wash the clothing as normal in a washing machine. Use your usual laundry detergent with the addition of bleach for white items or a color-safe laundry booster for colored items.
- After the laundry finishes, we recommend air drying the garment. Oil stains are difficult to spot on wet clothing, so you will have to wait and see if the stain is gone.
- If the stain persists, repeat the previous steps if needed.
- Remember not to machine-dry the clothing until you’re sure the stain is gone. High temperatures could set the stain, making it impossible to clean.
Can You Remove Oil Stains From Clothes Using a Spot Remover?
If you want to avoid home remedies, you can, of course, use a spot remover to treat oil stains. It should be quite effective, although not everyone likes using chemicals. If you’re prone to skin allergies or the stain is on a piece of children’s clothing, we recommend sticking to natural methods.
For those that are set on using a detergent, we recommend spot removers such as Shout.
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This is a spot remover oriented around cooking grease, cooking oil, and other kinds of oils.
How to remove oil stains from clothes using a detergent
Using a spot remover is a quick and simple way to rid your clothes of stains. This method works on both new and old stains, although of course, older stains are difficult to tackle with every method.
You will need:
- Laundry spot remover such as Shout
- Hot water
- A toothbrush
- A pot
- A piece of cardboard
- A washbasin
A step-by-step guide to using a spot remover:
- Place the clothing on a clean, dry, hard surface.
- Next, place the piece of cardboard beneath the stain to avoid transferring.
- Spray the spot generously all over the stain and the surrounding area.
- Scrub with a toothbrush. Be gentle, especially on delicate, flimsy fabrics.
- Leave it to sit for 5-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Remove the pot from the burner.
- Place your clothing in a washbasin or a tub. It has to be done in a safe area so as to avoid splatter from the boiling water.
- From as high above as possible, pour the boiling water onto the garment. Be EXTREMELY careful as you do this.
- Once rinsed, wash the clothing as normal with your usual laundry detergent. Leave it to air-dry.
How Do You Get Oil Out Of Clothes After They Have Been Washed and Dried?
Generally, it’s recommended that you wait with washing and drying and first treat the stain. The reason is as stated above. The washing alone is not an issue, although washing in hot temperatures is not recommended. However, if you put the item in the dryer, it’s a whole another story.
The high temperatures that your clothing is subjected to in the dryer set the cooking oil stain even further. This may result in discoloration that can be permanent. However, don’t fret — it’s still possible to save your clothing.
In order to remove cooking oil stains out of clothes after washing and drying, follow the steps described above for old stains… with a small exception. You will need to add an additional step.
Once you’re done with all the pre-treatment — which means you’ve used dish soap and let it sit for a while — don’t throw your shirt into the washing machine immediately. Instead, use an enzyme-based cleaner on the stain and let it soak in for a while. Next, rinse it off and wash the clothing as normal.
Oil stains can be a real pain to deal with, but they’re definitely not impossible to remove. All it takes is some patience, acting as fast as you can, and following the right methods.
We hope that with our steps, you were able to restore your clothes back to their former glory. If you’re still fighting the stain, good luck, and remember that persistence pays off!