How to Get Oil Stains Out of Clothing

What do water and your favorite blouse have in common? They don’t mix with oil. From everyday oil mishaps to minor cooking accidents, the substance can easily stain any fabric it comes in contact with. Not only are the stains extremely unsightly, but they’re also one of the trickiest types to get rid of.

The good news? Oil stains are removable with the help of common household ingredients. To get you started, we’ve assembled an easy oil-stain removal guide with effective steps that won’t damage your clothes.

Read on to learn how to get oil stains out of clothing in five steps.

1. Act Fast

As with removing all stains, time is of the essence. Your best bet is to act as soon as you notice the stain. Remove excess oil with a spatula, butter knife, or spoon. Be extra careful not to spread the liquid.

2. Add Soap

Lay the garment down on a flat surface, then pour an ample amount of liquid laundry detergent directly onto the stain. In this case, more is better. Make sure to apply enough detergent to fully soak through the garment. As a note, gentle detergents might not be powerful enough to tackle oil stains, so you may want to opt for something that specifically fights grease. Alternatively, you can use dish soap for this step. Just be sure to avoid any cleaning agents that contain lotion (as it can make the stain worse).

3. Add Water

Since oil and water don’t mix, use as much hot water as possible to drive out the oil. After letting your garment soak in the soap for five to 10 minutes, wash it thoroughly. Be careful not to let the soap dry on the fabric during the soaking stage. The key to successfully getting oil stains out of clothing is to use the hottest water you can, but be sure to follow label’s instructions, as hot water can damage certain fabrics.

4. Check Your Work

Check your work before drying the garment. Examine the stained area and allow the fabric to air-dry. Take note of whether any dark spots remain. If the oil hasn’t been completely removed, repeat steps two and three as needed. Avoid using the dryer, as the heavy heat can cause existing oil to permanently stain the garment.

5. Ask a Professional

If the stain still won’t budge, the best solution may be to consult a professional. Dry cleaning is often the best option for unusual or delicate fabrics—especially if its care label recommends avoiding hot water. Once the stain is removed, you’ll be free to wash, dry, and (most importantly) wear the garment as usual.

Ready for your next challenge? Keep reading to learn how to clean leather in four steps.