How To

How to get oil out of clothes easily

By Luke Carlino

Updated: March 22nd, 2024

Fear not, those clothes don't need to be thrown away!

Stains are always annoying and often thought of as the end of garments that fall victim to a spill. What many people do not realise, however, is that learning how to get oil out of clothes is actually quite easy! Oil stains are pesky and a little challenging to remove, but it is possible.

Most oils are semi-solid at room temperature, which makes removal much easier when you use warm or hot water. The fabric of the garment does play a role; however, as synthetic fibres like polyester are harder to clean and offer the ones that suffer the most as oil is attracted to them. 

Still, removing oil stains isn’t impossible if you act as quickly as possible as stains that have dried are a lot harder to get out. Read on for the steps of how to get oil out of clothes and become a laundry expert who never has to throw away a loved clothing item because of a stain again.

How to get oil out of clothes with baking soda 

Many people head straight for the baking soda when they find an oil stain – – and for good reason. It works by pulling oil out of fabric and should always be your first line of defence when treating a stain. 

Just follow these simple steps: 

  1. Remove as much oil as you can with a cloth or paper towel
  2. Sprinkle the baking soda onto the stain and let it sit for 24 hours 
  3. Vacuum or brush the baking soda away 
  4. Spray the area with a mix of vinegar and water 
  5. Scrub with soap then rinse.

You may need to repeat this process a few times if the stain remains, but eventually, you will win the tussle!

How to get oil stains out of clothes with chalk 

Interestingly enough, chalk can remove oil from your clothes in a similar way to baking soda! Chalk works in the same fashion, pulling the oil from the fabric; however, this method is not ideal for large or set-in stains. Use it more for smaller grease splatters, when you are trying to figure out how to get cooking oil out of clothes.

To use chalk, all you need to do is:

  1. Remove any oil from the garment with a paper towel
  2. Cover the entire stain with chalk
  3. Wait a few minutes for the oil to absorb
  4. Wash the item 
Jeans hanging on line
Bruno Nascimento

A step-by-step process to remove set-in oil stains

Set-in oil stains require a little more work to remove. Generally, these are formed because you were unable to remove your oil stain immediately after it happened. 

If this has happened to you, follow these steps to get rid of that annoying stain:

1. Start while the fabric is dry

Do not make the mistake of rinsing your garment with water before you start as it is easier to work on a dry as well all know that oil and water do not mix. Water coats the fabric around the oil meaning the oil has nowhere to go, so avoid this straight up.

2. Place cardboard behind the stain

Placing cardboard between layers of the garment means you will avoid transferring oil to other areas of the fabric.

3. Blot the stain 

Use a clean, dry cloth to remove as much excess oil as possible, being careful not to spread the oil to other parts of the fabric. 

4. Grab a little dish soap 

Dish soap is a great way to cut through grease on clothes. Apply a few drops to the stain and let it soak, then rub it gently with a soft-bristled brush or cloth, allowing it to soak for about five minutes.

5. Rinse with warm water

Rinse the area with warm water then wash the item in hot water as per usual in the machine. Add in your regular detergent with bleach for white items.

6. Air-dry the item

Refrain from machine-drying your item as the high temperature may set the stain, making it harder to remove.

How to get motor oil out of clothes

Motor oil stains can be a little more tricky to remove, but once again, not impossible if you follow these steps:

  1. Scrape off as much of the oil as possible 
  2. Blot at the grease stain with a paper towel in a lifting motion
  3. Sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on the stain and allow it to sit for ten minutes 
  4. Remove the powder with a brush 
  5. Place a drop of dishwashing liquid on the stain with a little water, working the mixture in with your fingers
  6. Use a brush to scrub the stain in a circular motion 
  7. Wash the item in your machine
  8. Air-dry the fabric by laying it flat or hanging on a line, and ensure you do not put it in the dryer 

This process is usually sufficient for all types of fabric with the exception of silk or wool, which may require help from a professional laundry service. You can also buy ready-mixed pre-treat grease stain removers but before buying them, make sure that the product is appropriate for your stained fabric.

It is also important to remember that removing a fresh grease stain is much easier than removing one that has dried. When it comes to all stains, the sooner you act, the better. A pre-treat will increase your removal chances significantly and can be effective with something as simple as dishwashing liquid.

If you are dealing with a grease stain that has set in, however, spray it with a little WD-40. Test an inconspicuous area first to make sure you do not see any discolouration. There are many reports that the Coca-Cola method of stain removal is also quite effective, so you can also give that a try if the other methods aren’t having an impact!

How to get coconut oil out of clothes

Coconut oil is a great organic product which is sustainable and used for many versatile purposes, like skincare. It can, however, make a bit of mess on your sheets or clothes.

It is possible to remove a coconut oil stain with the baking soda and dishwashing liquid mentioned above; the only difference is a longer soaking time.

  • Leave the soda or liquid on the stain for 15 minutes as it may take a little longer to absorb the oil.
  • You can then scrape or brush it off as per usual then wash with hot water.
A clean pile of clothes
Dan Gold

Frequently asked questions

How do you get oil out of clothes after they have already been washed and dried?

While not ideal, you can remove oil stains even after the item has been washed and dried. Doing this requires one additional step as the heat from the dryer has baked the oil into the fabric.

This often leads to discolouration, so a pre-treatment with an enzyme-based cleaner will be required before following through with the standard steps.

Interestingly, you can also try using WD-40 (is there anything it can’t do?) Just keep in mind; you will also have to get the WD-40 out, as it may leave its own residue. 

How do you get dried oil stains out of clothes?

As oil stains will happen, they are simple to remove even after they have dried. Just blot the excess cooking oil with a paper towel and cover the stain with baking soda. 

Let it sit for just over thirty minutes, then scrub it with an old toothbrush. As you rub the baking soda, you may see it starting to clump up. The baking soda will absorb the oil and it, along with the oil, should disappear after you give the garment a wash in the machine. 

Tough stains may require you to repeat this process a few times, or you can add dish soap for a bit of extra power. Ensure the stain is gone before putting the item in the dryer to avoid setting the stain with heat.

What removes grease from clothes? 

All you really need to get rid of a grease stain is some baking soda, a toothbrush, dish soap and a piece of cardboard to make sure you don’t spread the stain.

Let the baking soda and dish soap sit on and sink into the stain, then scrub with the toothbrush and rinse, washing the garment as per usual in your machine as the final step. repeat this process as many times as you need to until that annoying stain has left the building!

You’re all set to enjoy stain-free clothes!

Hopefully, this article has eased your mind when the next inevitable oil stain appears as you now know how to remove it and save your clothing! If you are a little time-poor, search the range of Taskers who can help you with your laundry to ensure a high-quality clean without having to add the job to your to-do list.

You can also have a read of our guide on keeping white shoes sparkling clean, so your entire outfit looks brand new all the time! just doing our bit to make sure you always look your best.


Luke Carlino

Luke Carlino is a freelance copywriter, social media manager and content creator based in Melbourne. He works for a range of clients across a plethora of industries and is also an accomplished musician with solo and band works online.

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