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How to get oil & grease out of clothes

Stains are part of a busy life and sometimes they can be tough to remove. Oil and grease stains are particularly stubborn, but they don’t have to be permanent. If you are faced with oil or grease stain removal, don’t throw your favorite shirt away just yet. If you act quickly, you may be able to remove these tough stains. This step-by-step guide will help you learn how to get oil and grease stains out of clothes. 

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What draws oil out of clothes?

Oil can be drawn out of clothes by blotting with a paper towel and allowing baking soda to absorb it, similar to how you would get gasoline out of clothes. Another way to draw oil out of clothes is to use dishwashing liquid. Just as dishwashing liquid effectively removes grease from your dishes, it can do the same on your clothing.

Does hairspray get oil out of clothes?

While some people have had success with removing oil stains using hairspray, there seems to be a lack of credible research to support this method. Hairspray traditionally has less alcohol in it now, which some sources note as a reason this remedy might not be as effective as it once was.

Does baking soda absorb oil from clothes?

Baking soda may draw oil out of clothes and can be a great tool for cleaning tough stains. You’ll first want to remove any excess oil with a paper towel. Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area next, and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, gently remove the baking soda and spray the stain with water. Next, scrub the stain with a brush and dishwashing liquid, rinse, then wash the item according to the care tag and line dry.

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Step-by-Step Guide: Removing oil & grease from clothes

Accidents happen and so do stains, but it is possible to remove oil and grease stains. The most important thing to remember is the sooner you address the stain, the more likely you are to be successful. Follow these steps to help remove grease and oil stains from your clothes.

  • Paper towel

  • Liquid dishwashing detergent

  • Butter knife

  • Baking soda (optional)

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Step 1: Remove excess oil

Blot any excess oil or grease from the garment with a paper towel. You can also use a dull butter knife to scrape it gently from the fabric, if necessary. 


Place a piece of cardboard directly behind the stain to keep it from spreading or soaking through the garment. 

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Step 2: Pretreat fabric

Put a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent on the stain and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. Rinse the dishwashing detergent from the garment completely before putting it in the washing machine.


For sturdy fabrics such as cottons and denim, you can gently scrub the dishwashing detergent into the fabric before rinsing.

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Step 3: Wash

Machine wash the garment with the warmest water allowed by the garment care tag.

Do you wash oil stains in hot or cold water?

Wash garments with oil stains using the warmest water recommended on the care tag. Oil and grease are semi-solid at room temperature, so using the warmest water recommended will help liquefy them.


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Step 4: Line dry

Line dry the garment. Never machine dry a garment when you are trying to remove a stain. If the stain is not fully removed, the heat from the dryer will set the stain, making it much more difficult to clean.

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Are oil stains on clothes permanent?

Oil stains can be permanent, but that is not always the case if they are treated and cleaned quickly after they happen. Blotting and removing excess oil and treating the stain as quickly as possible will increase the possibility of successfully removing it. The fibers of the fabric and the origins of the stain will also determine whether or not it can be cleaned.

How do you remove set-in oil stains?

Set-in oil stains can be removed using a few different strategies such as soaking the garment or applying hydrogen peroxide followed by baking soda. 

Begin by blotting the oil and removing any excess. Apply dish soap to the stain and rub it in until the stain is covered. Let it sit for at least ten minutes and then soak the garment in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to rinse the dish soap out completely before putting the garment in the washing machine. Line dry the garment. 

If that process does not work to lift the stain, wet the area and cover it with baking soda. Scrub it lightly with a toothbrush and then wash your garment as usual in the warmest water recommended on the item’s care tag. Line dry the garment.

Can old oil stains be removed?

Old oil stains can be very stubborn, but it is possible to remove them. If a garment has been washed and dried and the oil stain still remains, using an enzyme-based cleaner to pretreat the stain rather than dish soap may increase the chance of being able to remove it. 

Discover Whirlpool® Washers & Dryers

Whirlpool® Washers and Dryers will help keep laundry day moving, even when you’re battling tough stains. Explore now to find the right choice for your laundry room and your life and learn how to get rid of stubborn stains like paint, hair dyewax and detergent.

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