How To Get Oil Stains Out Of Clothes

Oil stains are tough, but we've got the solutions.

Nothing ruins the singular joy of a pizza loaded with delicious toppings like having a bite slip onto your shirt or pants. Greasy, oily stains like these are the worst! Not only is oil attracted to synthetic fibers like polyester, but oil stains turn darker and get more noticeable over time. So the last thing you want to do when faced with an oil stain is to make a serious laundry mistake. Luckily, if you need to know how to remove oil stains from clothes, you're in the right place. We went to the laundry experts at Maytag to find out how to remove oil stains, even old ones, from your clothes.

How To Get New Oil Stains Out Of Clothes

According to Rebeccah Buurstra, former Maytag Brand Manager, the trick to getting oil out of clothes is acting as soon as possible. Here's what she says to do:

  1. Before you start, check your clothing's care label for specific requirements. Some textiles, like silk or cashmere, may require special care.
  2. Scrape off the excess grease with a butter knife, then blot gently with a clean, white paper towel or cloth to remove as much oil as possible. Note: Buurstra says plain paper towels are best. Using paper towels with printed patterns can cause a transfer of color onto your clothing.
  3. Gently rub liquid dish soap into the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to rinse away the residue thoroughly.
  4. Machine wash with a concentrated laundry soap like Swash in the warmest water recommended on your clothing's care tag.
  5. Line dry. Buurstra says you should never machine dry garments with grease or oil stains since the remaining particles could start a fire in your dryer if they get too hot. She also says that if any of the oil or grease remains, the heat from the dryer will set it into the fabric.
  6. Repeat if necessary.
Woman Is Holding a Stack of Ironed and Folded Shirts
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How To Get Old Oil Stains Out Of Clothes

If you address them as soon as possible, oil stains are easier to get out of clothes, but sometimes, that isn't possible. "Don't worry—there are methods to remove old grease stains from clothes, even after they dry," Buurstra says. Here's what she suggests:

  1. Scrape and blot liquid dish soap into the stain and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Soak in warm or hot water for at least 30 minutes. Dissolve some store-bought stain remover or laundry detergent in the water.
  3. Place in the washing machine with laundry detergent in the warmest water recommended on your care tag.
  4. Line dry. As mentioned above, never put an item with oil stains in your dryer.

How To Remove Set-In Oil Stains You've Already Washed

So what if you did all of the above and you're still looking at an oil stain? Buurstra says there's still hope!

  1. Spray the affected area with a water displacement lubricant like WD-40® to reactivate the stain. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Try treating it again with liquid dish soap.
  3. Do not place the garment in the washing machine since water displacement lubricants can be flammable, and residue may remain. Instead, wash the garment by hand in the sink in the warmest water recommended for your fabric and a small amount of laundry detergent. 
  4. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
  5. Mix a new detergent solution and warm water and repeat treatment until no grease odor remains. 
  6. Rinse in clean water.
  7. Line dry only. Never machine dry anything that has ever had any type of grease or oil, as mentioned above.
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