How to get oil stains out of clothes – a simple and effective guide

Of all types of laundry stains, oil and grease stains are perhaps some of the hardest ones to get rid of. They won’t go away when you wash with water; they won’t go away with conventional washing either. And when you get an oil stain without realizing it and wash and dry your clothes the conventional way, the day after you will find a baked-in, virtually unremovable spot that sticks out like a sore thumb. And it gets even worst if the said clothes are made of polyester.

So the question is, is there any way that we get rid of these pesky stains, without ripping the clothes themselves out?

Is it possible to get oil stains out of clothes?

Oil-stains-on-clothes-are-removable
Yes, you can remove oil stains from clothes (Source: Internet)

The short answer is yes, it is possible to get rid of oil stains. But depends on what kind of fabric your clothes are made of, and whether or not you have preemptively made the mistake of rinsing the oil stains with water, this work can become many, many times more difficult. Nonetheless, it is doable using the methods that we will introduce later in this article.

Immediate treatments for oil stains

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Baking soda makes up excellent treatment for fresh, undried oil stains (Source: Internet)

The best-case scenario for treating an oil stain is to treat it immediately with the right method. In this case, baking soda is the perfect solution. This is also the first aid measure to get oil stains out of clothes without washing, which is extremely handy when the stained piece of garment isn’t easily washable, like a coat.

To treat the oil stain with baking soda, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Use a paper towel or a cloth to remove excess oil.
  • Step 2: Sprinkle baking soda on the stained area, and allow it to sit for 24 hours. 
  • Step 3: After the wait, remove the baking soda from the stain using a vacuum or a brush. 
  • Step 4: Spray the stain with a vinegar and water solution. 
  • Step 5: Scrub the stain with soap and a brush, then rinse. 
  • Step 6: If the stain isn’t removed, give the process another try.

Get oil stains out of clothes after drying

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Dish soap is an excellent pretreat for dried oil stains (Source: Internet)

For set-in oil stains, which are the oil stains that dry out on your clothes before you could treat them immediately, you can remove them using the following method. And this method is also how you can get the stain out naturally because the ingredients used for this routine are mostly natural.

Step 1: Do not try to wash the stain with water

To not panic and wash the stain with water is actually worth mentioning as the first step of the process because there is nothing worse you can do than washing the oil stain with water before anything else. Oil doesn’t mix with water, it floats on the water; so the water will not wash the oil stain away but instead wet the area around the stain, causing the fabric to get mushy around the stain, making it very difficult for any cleaning agents you throw in subsequently to contact well with the oil and do their work.

Step 2: Put a piece of cardboard on the back of the stained area

You do this so the oil will not spread to other parts of the stained clothes. You can get this piece of cardboard from anything around the house, like an old cereal box.

Step 3: Blot the stain with a clean, dry piece of cloth

Blot the spot to get rid of any excess oil. Be careful not to spread the oil to other parts of the garment. A napkin or paper towels could also be used in place of a clean cloth.

Step 4: Apply dish soap to the stain

If you have already experienced how effectively dish soap removes the grease on your dishes, the great news is that you can also expect the same effect when you use it on oil stains on clothes. It acts as a great pretreat agent to make the stain loosen up.

Drop a few drops of dish soap on the stain, and rub gently with your fingers, a cloth, or a soft-bristled toothbrush to work the soap in. Then let it sit for five minutes.

Step 5: Rinse with warm water, then do the conventional laundry

After the wait time, rinse the soap away with warm water. Then wash the clothes in hot water mode, adding some bleach (if the clothes are white) or a color-safe alternative product (if the clothes are colored).

Step 6: Air-dry or line-dry the clothes

You will want to postpone the dryer use until you are sure that the stain has been fully removed; an oil stain will be very hard to detect once the clothes are wetted from the washing. You will want to see if the stains have been successfully removed, because If you dry the clothes with the dryer immediately, the unremoved stain would literally be baked into the fabric, and become even tougher to remove.

How to get oil stains out of clothes already washed and dried

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For intensive oil-stain treatment, soak your stained clothes in enzyme laundry presoak (Source: Internet)

Now we move on to the worst case scenario: You have watered your oil-stained clothes; you have washed the piece of clothes using a washing machine, and have dried it using a drier, and now you a baked-in oil stain. The news is even that can be treated; albeit requiring more patience and a little different methodology.

So in order to get the oil stain out, which is a lot tougher this time, you will need a little specialist help: You will need to pre-treat the stain with an enzyme-based laundry presoak. 

An enzyme-based laundry presoak is a pretreatment solution that contains laundry enzymes; and it’s a specialist among cleaners when it comes down to breaking organic stains, including oil stains themselves. There are various types of laundry enzymes, and, each of them is good for breaking down a specific type of organic stain:

Protease – breaks down protein-based soils

Amylase – breaks down starch-based or carbohydrate soils

Cellulase – breaks down cotton fibers to release soils

Lipase – breaks down fat-based soils

Mannanase – breaks down food-based stains

Pectinase – breaks down fruit-based stains

To get rid of washed oil stains with the help enzyme presoak, you can simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose the right products for your stained clothes items

So before buying any type of enzyme-based presoak, you may want to read the label to see whether or not it is recommended for the type of stain that you need to clean, and whether there is any contraindication for any type of fabric. A good enzyme presoak product would contain a variety of enzymes, allowing it to break down a variety of stains. As a note, a lot of these presoaks do contain bleach.

Step 2: Pretreat your stained clothes with the enzyme presoak 

For this step, you must strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, the process would most likely go down as follows:

  • Mix the recommended amount of enzyme presoak product in lukewarm water. Mix the concoction well to make sure that all the presoak dissolves/disperses entirely into the water.
  • Submerge the stained clothes entirely in the mixture, and let it sit for the recommended amount of wait time, typically 30 minutes. If the stain is particularly bad, soaking overnight might be necessary.

Step 3: Wash and dry the clothes

After the soaking, empty the presoak mixture and laundry the stained clothes like usual, following the fabric care instruction label.

More cleaning tips and professional cleaning services

Love this guide on how to remove oil stains from your clothes? Sparkling and Beyond has even more cleaning tips and guides for you to explore in our library. If the DIY methods don’t do the trick, you can always get professional help from us. We provide professional and affordable cleaning services for your laundry, your bathroom, and any other part of the house, for any degree of need. We’ll keep your home sparkling clean and healthy.

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