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.

Method One of Two:
Laundering Clothes

  1. 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]
  2. 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]
    • For instance, if your item says to wash in cold water only, use cold water rather than hot in the following steps.
  3. 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]
    • Alternatively, you could rub plain white chalk over the spot to absorb the oil.
  4. 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]
    • 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. 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]
    • If your fabric is delicate, use a gentle detergent.
  6. 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]
    • Be sure to air dry any delicate fabrics rather than putting them in the dryer.
  7. 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]
    • 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.

Method Two of Two:
Cleaning Upholstery or Carpet

  1. 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]
  2. 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]
  3. 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]
  4. 4
    Blot the stain with soapy water or solvent. Mix 2 cups (470 ml) of cool water and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) 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]
    • 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. 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]
  6. 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]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • How else can I remove an oil stain?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try washing it with shampoo. If you don't want to wash it, try putting baby powder on the clothing, wait 30 minutes, and then shake it off.
    Thanks! 11 6
  • How do I remove an unknown paint stain on a t-shirt?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try soap and water first to see if it is latex paint. If not, then you can follow the tips in the article above.
    Thanks! 6 4
  • How do I remove soda and cheese stains from fabrics?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • For cheese: pre-treat or soak with a laundry product containing enzymes. Soak new stains for at least 30 minutes and older stains for several hours before washing. For soda: mix one tablespoon of liquid hand or dish washing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water. Then, using a clean cloth, sponge the stain with the solution.
    Thanks! 6 6
  • How do I get an oil stain out of suede?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • I have used baking soda on a dark bottle-green suede skirt that had bacon grease on it. Place the baking soda on the stained area, and lightly press it into the stain with your fingers. Let it sit for a while. Lightly brush it off with an old toothbrush. Continue treatments until the baking soda easily comes off. You may have to repeat the process if the stain surfaces over time.
    Thanks! 0 0
  • I want to removed the dry petrol oil what will I need to use and do
  • How do i remove a deck stain from a sweatshirt?
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Things You’ll NeedEdit

Laundering ClothesEdit

  • 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

Cleaning Upholstery or CarpetEdit

  • 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

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    Lucian Holt

    3 days ago

    "Helped by removing the oils. However, the color of the red palm oil remained so I need to do further research."
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