Do your clothes have oil stains that are still there after washing them? Or did you find grease stains fresh out of the dryer? This is the easiest way to get oil out of clothes, and you already have these ingredients around your house.
Have you ever sat down to fold laundry fresh out of the dryer only to find oil stains or grease stains on your clothes?
No matter how hard you try sometimes, food with cooking oils can ruin our clothing.
Today, we’re going to get stubborn oil stains out with just a few supplies you probably already have around the house.
And don’t worry if you’ve already washed and dried those stains. While it’s true that a dryer will “set in” those oil stains, you’re going to learn the trick on how to “revive” the oil stain and wash it out for good.
It took me a few years to learn to check for stains before putting them in the wash, but for years, I dealt with set in oil stains. I came across this method when I found myself without a stain pre-treater or spot remover.
I’ve tried this method on cotton and polyester, and this method works best on cotton. On synthetic fabrics, you may have to repeat the process OR allow the detergent to work longer before putting it in the wash.
Disclaimer: Do not attempt this on “dry clean only” clothing. Use your own judgment before proceeding.
How to Get Oil Stains out of Clothes
Supplies needed for oil stain removal
You will need to prepare your workspace with a few items. Make sure you have plenty of natural light, as overheard artificial lighting can make it hard to see the oil stains.
- Q-tips (optional)
- baking soda
- scrap of cardboard
- Dawn liquid soap (or any other liquid detergent on hand)
- a sturdy brush
- your regular laundry routine after stain removal
Why this method works
In searching for ways to remove oil stains, I remember I read somewhere that you can “revive” old oil by adding a little more oil.
I tried vegetable oil and olive oil, and the only thing I accomplished was making the oil stain worse. It got larger and more apparent.
A neighbor recommended I try WD-40 to remove oil stains. She said she used it all the time.
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?
It’s unconventional, and probably not something you’d call non-toxic, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
1. Reviving the Oil Stain
Preparing the clothing
If your stains are on a shirt, shorts, dress or any article of clothing that doesn’t have buttons to open, don’t skip this step.
Place your scrap of cardboard underneath the stains, between the front and back of the t-shirt (or other article of clothing).
This is important because you do not want the WD-40 to spread through the stain to the back of the shirt and create a new stain.
Carefully apply WD-40
If your stains are super tiny, try spraying some WD-40 in a shallow bowl (or a spoon) and use Q-tips to dab it on stains.
Same goes if your WD-40 does not have a sprayer attachment.
If your can of WD-40 does has a spray attachment, this will be pretty straight forward.
Gently spray the center of each stain. Less is more. The WD-40 will spread!
Even if your squirt doesn’t cover the whole stain, give it a minute, especially if the stain is on the smaller side. It will spread and cover the entire stain.
Related Post: MORE Ways to Remove Old Oil Stains
2. Lifting the Stain
Sprinkle with baking soda
I read that baking soda is great at just about 1,000,000 different things.
So I wondered…would it work to remove oil stains?
Pour a pile of baking soda on the oil stain. Make sure you add more than you think you’ll need!
Brushing in baking soda
Bring out the toothbrush and spread the baking soda into the stain.
The baking soda will absorb all of the oil that the WD-40 helped revive. It’s important to brush the baking soda well into the fabric to get all of the oils out.
Continue brushing until you end up with slightly lumpy chunks of soda. Dust off the excess baking soda into a sink.
Next, we’re going to repeat the process of scrubbing baking soda. Pour more baking soda on the grease stains and brush the baking soda into the fabric.
You want to see the same lumps of baking soda as the last step, but they should be smaller this time.
Repeat this process until you have next to no lumps of baking soda. Some stains are bigger than others and you might have to repeat a third or fourth time.
You will then have something that looks like the image below.
Notice the fine powdery baking soda everywhere. This is what your baking soda should look like when you’ve taken out most of the oils: a fine, dry dusting with no major lumps.
Also, look at how the oil stain transferred to the cardboard scrap.
Had we skipped the cardboard, this would’ve transferred to the other side of the clothing as well!
Related post: Your Guide to Safer Laundry Detergents That Work on a Budget
3. Pre-treating the Stain
After we are done soaking up the oil or grease by brushing baking soda into the stain, we move on to the liquid dish soap or laundry detergent.
Pour the liquid detergent directly to the stain.
Using the toothbrush, brush the pre-wash treatment into the stained areas.
Allow the liquid soap to sit on the stains from 30 minutes to overnight.
Related post: How to Clean Greasy Range Hood Filters
4. Wash and Dry as Usual
Add the stained clothing to the wash, following the instructions on the garment tag for water temperature, wash cycle, and the dryer.
If you followed all of the instructions, you won’t need a longer wash time, heavy wash cycle, OR an extra rinse cycle.
Before putting the shirt into the dryer, take a look at the stained spots. You might not be able to see them when the clothing is wet.If you can see them, add more liquid detergent to the spot with the toothbrush and launder again. Be sure to use wool dryer balls for quicker drying time.
If you still have the oil stains in the fabric after drying, repeat the steps above. For these particular stains, I had to repeat the process after washing the first time. Oil stains, man.
I have done this numerous times with different types of fabrics and have found it works best with cotton and cotton blends. Click below for the full video tutorial on YouTube, and find printable instructions below.
MORE Ways to Remove Set In Oil Stains
How to Clean a Greasy Range Hood Filter
Wool Dryer Balls: Non-Toxic Alternative to Dryer Sheets
How to Increase Dryer Efficiency
Your Guide to Safer Laundry Detergents That Work
Top 7 Eco Friendly Laundry Tips
Printable Laundry Symbols Guide
Related Post: Even MORE ways to remove oil stains!
- Reviving old oil stain – Place your scrap of cardboard underneath the stains, between the front and back of the t-shirt (or other article of clothing). Carefully spray (or dab WD-40) onto stains.
- Lifting the stain – Sprinkle baking soda onto oil stains. Using toothbrush, scrub the baking soda into the stains. Continue brushing until the baking soda clumps. Dump baking soda into sink.
- Repeat – Apply more baking soda onto the stains. Make sure the baking soda clumps get smaller each time.
- Pre-treat with liquid detergent – Add liquid dish or laundry detergent as a pre-wash treatment. Brush the liquid soap/detergent into the stains.
- Wash + dry clothing – Wash and dry clothes as usual. You're done!
If stains still persist, repeat from step 1.
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!
Download thefreeLaundry Symbols Printable
Not sure what those laundry symbols mean? Head to this post for a free printable!