white cotton shirt with a fresh oil stain on a well-lit, neutral-colored table. A clear glass bowl containing a mixture of baking soda and detergent is positioned next to the shirt, with a measuring spoon sprinkling the mixture onto the stain. A spray bottle of stain remover is in the foreground, with a fine mist directed at the stain. Hands are visible in the process of applying the mixture, gently scrubbing with a soft-bristled cleaning brush.

How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes

We’ve all been there: enjoying a delicious slice of pizza or changing the oil in a bike, when suddenly – oops! – a drop of oil lands smack on our favorite shirt. Frustrating, isn’t it? But don’t worry; that shirt isn’t ruined forever. Oil stains might seem like they’re here to stay, but with a few smart moves and a dash of patience, they can become history.

The key? Knowing the right tricks to get that stubborn stain out. In this article titled “How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes”, we’re diving deep into the world of laundry rescue. Whether it’s a fresh drop or an old, dried up splotch, we’ve got you covered with tips, tricks, and step-by-step instructions.

So, next time you’re faced with that dreaded oil spot, don’t panic! Just remember what you’ll learn here, and you’ll be well on your way to making your clothes look as good as new. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get started!

Understanding Oil Stains

Why Oil Stains Are Tough to Remove

Oil stains on our clothes can feel like a nightmare, but why exactly are they so stubborn? Let’s break it down:

1. Oil’s Hydrophobic Nature

The word “hydrophobic” might sound complicated, but it simply means that oil doesn’t like to mix with water. When we try washing our clothes, the water in our washing machines just glides right off the oil, leaving it untouched. This is a major reason why those oil spots don’t just wash away like some other stains.

2. Binding Properties with Fabrics

Oil doesn’t just sit on the surface of our clothes. It seeps into the fabric fibers and clings on tight. This tight grip that oil has on our clothes makes it hard to break free, especially if it’s left to sit for a while.

The Risks of Not Treating Stains Promptly

If we understand how to remove oil stains from clothes right when they happen, we’re in a much better spot. But if we delay, things can get tricky:

1. Permanent Stain Setting

The longer an oil stain sits on a fabric, the harder it becomes to remove. Over time, the oil starts bonding even more with the fibers, making it a permanent resident on our clothes. So, acting fast can save our favorite garments!

2. Attracting Additional Dirt and Particles

Oil spots can act like magnets. If we wear the stained clothes or even let them sit without treatment, they can attract more dirt and grime. This means our single oil stain can become a dirty patch, making the cleanup even tougher.

Remember, understanding why and how oil behaves on our clothes is half the battle. With this knowledge, we’re better prepared to tackle those pesky stains head-on!

Materials Needed

  • Dishwashing soap.
  • Baking soda.
  • Cornstarch.
  • A toothbrush or scrub brush.
  • Clean cloth or paper towel.
    • Optional commercial products and when they might be necessary.

Step-by-Step Removal Guide

The key to reclaiming your stained garment is a methodical approach. Whether you’re dealing with a fresh accident or an old mark, these detailed steps will guide you on how to remove oil stains from clothes with confidence.

For Fresh Stains:

Caught that oil drop before it could settle in? Perfect! Here’s what to do:

1. Blot the Excess

Using a clean cloth, gently dab at the stain to remove as much of the excess oil as possible. Remember, don’t rub — this can push the oil deeper into the fabric.

2. Apply Absorbing Powder

Generously sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch over the stained area. These powders act like little sponges, helping to absorb the oil from the fabric.

3. Patience is Key

Leave the absorbing powder on the stain for a few hours. This gives it time to pull out as much oil as possible.

4. Brush and Check

After waiting, gently brush off the powder. Take a look at the stain. Lightened up? Great! Still there? No worries, we have more tricks up our sleeve.

Application of Dishwashing Soap:

Dishwashing soap isn’t just for greasy plates. It’s a champ at tackling oil stains on clothes too.

1. Direct Application

Place a few drops of dishwashing soap directly on the stain.

2. Scrub Gently

Using a toothbrush, softly scrub the area, allowing the soap to penetrate the fabric and target the oil.

3. Let it Sit

Give the soap a few minutes to do its magic.

4. Warm Water Rinse

Rinse the treated area with warm water. This helps in washing away the loosened oil and soap.

Machine Washing:

Sometimes, a trip through the washing machine is all it takes.

1. Know Your Garment

Always check the care label. It’ll guide you on what temperatures and settings are safe.

2. Hot Water, When Allowed

If the garment’s label gives a green light, wash it on the hottest temperature permissible. Heat can help dissolve oil.

3. Use Good Detergent

Opt for a heavy-duty laundry detergent. It’s formulated to combat stubborn stains like oil.

4. Inspect After Washing

Before you think of drying, check the stain. If it’s gone, great! If not, it’s worth giving another treatment a shot.

Using Commercial Products:

There are many stain removers out there designed specifically for tough stains.

1. Read Before Using

Always start by reading the product’s label and instructions.

2. Test First

Apply a small amount on an inconspicuous area of the garment. This ensures that it won’t damage or discolor the fabric.

3. Follow the Directions

Every product is a little different. Apply as directed, and trust the process.

Remember, persistence is key. Sometimes, a stain might require a combination of methods, but with patience and determination, you can restore your garment to its former glory.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to remove oil stains from clothes, let’s delve into some pro tips. These little nuggets of wisdom can make a world of difference when battling those stubborn spots.

Wait Before You Dry:

Drying might seem like the next logical step after washing, but it’s essential to hold off until that stain is completely gone. Why? Heat from the dryer can set the stain, making it nearly impossible to remove later. So, always air dry your garment first, check the stain, and only use the dryer when you’re sure the spot is history.

Start Cool, then Warm Up:

Starting with cold water can be more effective for initially loosening up the oil. Cold water ensures that the oil doesn’t spread further or set into the fabric. Once you’ve treated the stain, you can switch to warm water to help remove the oil completely.

Handle with Care: Treating Delicate Fabrics:

Fabrics like silk, satin, or lace require a gentler touch. For these:

  1. Avoid Rubbing: Rubbing can damage the fabric’s fibers.
  2. Test Any Product: Always do a patch test on an unseen area.
  3. Hand Wash: Delicate fabrics often fare better with hand washing.

Prevention is Better than Cure:

Here are a few ways to reduce the risk of oil stains:

  1. Aprons: If you’re cooking or working with oils, an apron can be a garment saver.
  2. Eat Carefully: Sounds simple, but being a bit more mindful when eating oily foods can reduce accidents.
  3. Handle Products with Care: When using oily products like lotions, ensure the cap is secure before storing.

Armed with these tips and tricks, you’re not only ready to tackle any oil stain that comes your way but also prevent them from happening in the first place. Onwards to cleaner, stain-free days!


Oil stains, while stubborn, don’t stand a chance when you’re equipped with the right knowledge and tools. From understanding the very nature of these greasy foes to leveraging various cleaning methods, you’ve now got a comprehensive roadmap on how to remove oil stains from clothes. But remember, every stain and fabric is unique, so sometimes a bit of patience and experimentation can make all the difference. With the practical tips, tricks, and preventative measures we’ve shared, your clothes are sure to enjoy a long, stain-free life. So the next time an unexpected oil splatter tries to ruin your day, you’ll be ready to tackle it head-on with confidence. Here’s to clean, vibrant garments and the know-how to keep them that way!


A: Yes, table salt can act as an absorbing agent for fresh oil stains. Sprinkle it generously on the stain, let it sit for a few hours, and then brush it off. However, for tougher stains, other methods like using dishwashing soap might be more effective.

A: Drying can set the stain, making it harder to remove. However, all hope isn’t lost. Try treating the stain again using the step-by-step removal guide. It might require more effort, but with persistence, there’s a good chance you can still lift the stain.

A: Absolutely! White vinegar can break down the oil and act as a natural stain remover. Apply a mixture of equal parts vinegar and warm water to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse.

A: While some methods can be combined for better results, it’s essential to be cautious. For example, you shouldn’t mix commercial stain removers unless their labels specifically say it’s safe. Always test any combination on an inconspicuous area first.

A: It varies depending on the treatment. For absorbing agents like baking soda, a few hours is ideal. For dishwashing soap or commercial products, a few minutes to an hour should suffice. Always refer to product labels or specific instructions.

A: Cold water prevents the oil from setting further into the fabric and reduces the risk of the oil spreading. Once the stain is treated, you can switch to warm water to aid in complete removal.