The easiest way to remove oil stains, including removing old oil stains on clothing that has gone through the dryer. Also works great to remove grease stains from clothes.
Have you ever sat down to fold laundry fresh out of the dryer only to find set in oil stains or grease stains? I have solved the mystery of how to remove set in oil stains that are stubborn and won’t come out of your clothes.
Oil stains: the bane of my existence.
Aggravating, isn’t it? No matter how hard you try sometimes, food with cooking oils can ruin our clothing.
This has been the most popular post on this blog for years. I have refreshed the article with relevant links to reader-submitted suggestions, but the process has worked for countless people!
I’ve been looking for alternative ways to clean around the house (and save money at the same time). While I don’t think I’m brave enough yet to use homemade laundry detergent, I found myself without a stain pre-treater or spot remover today after doing some laundry. I’ve read that baking soda is great at just about 1,000,000 different things. Would it work to remove old oil stains?
So in searching ways to remove oil stains, I remember I read somewhere that you can “revive” old oil by adding a little more oil. Makes sense when I think of my cast iron skillets looking a tad dull before I add oil or butter on them. There’s still a slight sheen of oil there even when bone dry after cleaning with soap (which you’re not supposed to do, I know).
Here’s what I did today that will remove even the oldest, most stubborn oil stains from clothes. I’ve only tried this on cotton so far, but I’ll let you know what other fabrics it will work on (because I can always trust on my husband to give me fresh material).
Disclaimer: Do not attempt this on “dry clean only” clothing. Use your own judgment before proceeding.
How to Wash Oil Stains or Grease Stains
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Q-tips (optional)
- baking soda
- scrap of cardboard
- Dawn liquid soap (or any other liquid dish detergent on hand)
- a toothbrush
- your regular laundry routine after stain removal
Reviving Oil Stain
First, start off with WD-40 lubricant spray. WD-40 might be a tad extreme, but since we already WASHED and DRIED these oil stains on high heat, what do we have to lose?
Placed your scrap of cardboard underneath the stains (between the front and back of the t-shirt) and spray each stain. You may see that the oil spreads:
Note: if your stains are super tiny, try spraying some WD-40 in a shallow bowl and using a Q-tip to dab it on to control how much WD-40 gets on your clothing.
Lifting the Stain
Second, bring in the baking soda. Pour a pile of baking soda on the oil stain. Make sure you add more than you think you’ll need!
Third, bring out the toothbrush (I didn’t have an old one so I used a new one) and spread the baking soda around.
Make sure to brush it INTO the oil stain.
Don’t let it sit there. Continue brushing and brushing and brushing…until you end up with chunks of soda all over. The baking soda will absorb all of the oil in the fabric.
Dust off the excess baking soda into the sink.
Look at how the oil stain transferred to the cardboard scrap. Had I skipped the cardboard, this would’ve transferred to the back of the t-shirt as well!
Next, we’re going to repeat the process of baking soda scrubbing. Pour more baking soda on the grease stains and brush the baking soda into the fabric.
Look at those little lumps.
Repeat this process until you have next to no lumps of baking soda. (This t-shirt needed three fresh mounds of baking soda, so I repeated this one more time.)
Scrub, scrub, scrub, and then scrub some more!
Pre-treating the Stain
You will then have something that looks like the image below. Notice the fine powdery soda every where. This is what your soda should look like when you’ve taken out most of the oils: a fine, dry dust.
After we are done soaking up the oil or grease by brushing baking soda into the stain, we move on to the Dawn dish soap. Pour the dish detergent directly to the stain. Use the toothbrush and brush this pre-wash treatment into the stained area.
Allow the dish soap to sit on the clothing for about half an hour.
Wash and Dry as Usual
Add the stained clothing with other like colors, and follow the detergent and water temperature instructions on the tag.
You won’t need a longer wash time, heavy wash cycle, OR an extra rinse cycle.
YAY! Go ahead. Find the stains. I dare ya! Cost? $0 as I already had all these items around the house. Try it!
Below is the before image one more time. Bye bye stains!
If you still have the oil stain in the fabric, repeat the steps above. I have done this numerous times with different types of fabrics.
Also, look at my Dryer Efficiency post for a tutorial on how to remove a film from the lint catcher that can be making you spend a longer time (and more money) drying your clothes!