How to Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics

If you’ve spilled oil on your clothes, carpet, or upholstery, you may think the item is ruined. Luckily, it can be easily removed using a few household items. Whether the fabric came into contact with motor oil, cooking oil, butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, makeup, deodorant, or another oil-based product, and regardless of whether the stain is fresh or set in, your fabric will come clean in no time.

EditSteps

EditLaundering Clothes

  1. Blot as much oil as possible from the item. As soon as the spill occurs, use paper towels to blot up as much oil as possible from the garment. Don’t rub the fabric, which would cause the oil to spread.[1]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 1 Version 6.jpg
  2. Check the garment care tag. Before treating the stain, read the care tag on the item. If the item is dry clean only, take it to the cleaners as soon as possible. Otherwise, find out if the garment can be laundered normally or if it needs to be hand washed and laid flat or hung up to dry. Take note of the temperature requirements as well as adjust your stain-removing strategy as needed.[2]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 2 Version 6.jpg
    • For instance, if your item says to wash in cold water only, use cold water rather than hot in the following steps.
  3. Apply powder to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. You can use baby powder, baking soda, talcum powder, cornstarch, or waterless mechanic’s soap to further remove the oil from the fabric. Sprinkle the powder over the oil and let it sit for 30 minutes to absorb as much oil as possible. Then, use a spoon to scrape the oil and powder off the garment.[3]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 3 Version 6.jpg
    • Alternatively, you could rub plain white chalk over the spot to absorb the oil.
  4. Scrub the stain with soap and water. Rinse the item with hot water, then apply a few drops of regular dish soap to the stain. Scrub the soap into the fabric with a toothbrush, then rinse it with hot water.[4]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 4 Version 6.jpg
    • The dish soap can be clear or colored, just make sure it doesn’t have added moisturizers.
    • As an alternative to dish soap, you could use shampoo, laundry soap, or aloe vera gel instead.
  5. Wash the garment by itself. As long as your garment is machine washable, you can pop it in the washing machine and launder it as usual. Follow the instructions on the care tag to determine the hottest water temperature the fabric can take. If the item is delicate, hand wash it.[5]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 5 Version 6.jpg
    • If your fabric is delicate, use a gentle detergent.
  6. Air dry the garment if the stain remains. Before putting the garment in the dryer, check to see if the stain is gone. You may need to let the item air dry so you can inspect the fabric when it’s dry. If you put the item in the dryer and the stain isn’t gone, the heat will set it into the fabric.[6]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 6 Version 6.jpg
    • Be sure to air dry any delicate fabrics rather than putting them in the dryer.
  7. Remove a stubborn stain with hairspray or WD-40. If you let the item air dry and still notice a stain, or if the stain is older and has set in, you can still remove it from your clothing. Spritz hairspray or WD-40 onto the stained fabric. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then launder the item as usual.[7]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 7 Version 6.jpg
    • Although WD-40 is an oil, it works by “reactivating” set-in stains so they can be easily removed by laundering.
    • Don’t use WD-40 on delicate fabrics.

EditCleaning Upholstery or Carpet

  1. Soak up the excess oil. Use an old towel or paper towel to blot up as much of the oil as you can. Avoid rubbing the towel into the fabric, which could spread the stain.[8]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 8 Version 6.jpg
  2. Sprinkle the area with powder and let it sit for 15 minutes. Use baking soda, talcum powder, baby powder, or cornstarch to soak up the oil. Just sprinkle it on the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes.[9]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 9 Version 5.jpg
  3. Scrape away the powder and repeat if necessary. Use a spoon to scrape away the powder or vacuum it up. If oil is still visible on the fabric, add fresh powder to the area and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, scrape it away with a spoon or vacuum it up.[10]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 10 Version 6.jpg
  4. Blot the stain with soapy water or solvent. Mix of cool water and of dish soap in a bowl or bucket. Dip a clean rag into the soapy water and use it to blot the stain. Keep blotting until the stain is gone.[11]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 11 Version 6.jpg
    • Alternatively, you could use dry cleaning solvent or Lestoil in place of the soapy water. Be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first.
  5. Remove the soap with a clean, damp sponge. Wet a clean sponge with cool water. Press it to the stained area to remove the soap, solvent, or Lestoil and any remaining oil.[12]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 12 Version 6.jpg
  6. Soak up the excess liquid then allow the fabric to dry. Blot the wet spot with a clean towel to absorb as much liquid as possible. Then, allow the fabric to air dry.[13]
    Remove Oil Based Stains from Fabrics Step 13 Version 6.jpg

EditThings You’ll Need

EditLaundering Clothes

  • Paper towels
  • Baby powder, baking soda, talcum powder, cornstarch, or waterless mechanic’s soap
  • Spoon
  • Dish soap, shampoo, laundry soap, or aloe vera gel
  • Old toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent
  • WD-40 or hairspray

EditCleaning Upholstery or Carpet

  • Old towels or paper towels
  • Cornstarch, baking soda, talcum powder, or baby powder
  • Spoon or vacuum
  • Soap and water, dry cleaning solvent, or Lestoil
  • Clean rag
  • Sponge

EditRelated wikiHows

EditSources and Citations

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