How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes - Clothes Doctor

How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes

We’ve all been there: one minute, you’re standing over the hob, frying your dinner. The next, there’s that sinking feeling as you see the cooking oil stains all over your favourite t-shirt. Or maybe you’re eating a salad, and there’s olive oil vinaigrette all over your best-fitting jeans as soon as you stand up. No matter what the situation is, the infamous stubbornness of oil makes it easy to think that your clothes will never be clean again. But not all hope is lost! At Clothes Doctor, we have plenty of insider tips and tricks so you can become a pro oil stain remover! Here's how to remove oil stains from clothes.

What makes cooking oil such a pain?

So why is removing cooking oil stains on clothes such a bother? “Oil repels water”, a teacher says in some distant memory of a school classroom. This is great for frying onions and ensuring they don’t stick to the pan, but it’s less good when it comes to removing that same cooking oil from your favourite clothes. Regular laundry cycles – mostly water and a splash of detergent – are not tough enough to save the garments you love.
There are also different types of cooking oil, each of which will pose a different threat to your clothes. Lighter oils, like sunflower or vegetable, will be far easier to remove than one like olive oil, which is more viscous. All oils can work their way into the fibres of your fabrics if they’re left too long, but it’s important to remember that the thicker the oil, the greater the damage could be. When left, it becomes far harder to find anything to act as an oil stain remover. So, onto how to remove oil stains on clothes, and saving your garments!

How to remove oil stains from fabrics the Clothes Doctor way

Before we start, it is important to note that the best measure is preventative. Wear an apron while cooking and avoid wearing fabrics that are difficult to wash.
If oil does get on your clothes, make sure to check the machine washing instructions. If it can be washed at 60 degrees, you can skip Steps 2 and 3 if it is with a lighter cooking oil and it is still fresh. Otherwise, follow all of our instructions on how to remove oil stains.

Step 1 – Remove Excess Oil

If you have just noticed that you have splashed cooking oil onto your clothes, make swift progress in its removal by blotting the stain gently with some dry kitchen towel. Our top tip at this stage is to lay the garment out on a flat surface, with a piece of cardboard between the layers of fabric to stop the oil transferring through them.

Step 2 – A Touch of Water and some Tough Love
Stain removal powder being applied to damp stained area of clothes
Keeping the clothing laid out flat, dampen the affected area with a cloth, making sure not to get it too wet. Because cooking oil stains on clothes seem to require miracles to be removed, we have a magic treatment! We love our fabrics here at Clothes Doctor, and so we developed our own ‘power powder’. Add a capful of our Tough Love Stain Remover directly to the stain and massage it in with your fingers or our Natural Sea Sponge for a really good scrub. Leave it to soak for at least one hour. This magic oil stain remover should absorb the worst of the grease and lift it away in the next stage of the treatment step.


Step 3 – Submerge and Scrub

Once the hour is up, get yourself a bowl of water, as hot as the garment can take (check the label to make sure it won’t damage the fabric). While oil might repel water, we still need it to scrub away the residue. Submerge the clothing in the water and thoroughly rinse away the powder and oil combo. For particularly tough stains, add another hint of the Tough Love Stain Remover to the water for an extra kick and give the stain another good scrub! Make sure to rinse again with clean water if you do this. There is no limit to how many times you should go through the above steps! Repeat the process until the oil stain remover has banished the grease!

Step 4 – Wash

Now, you need to wash away any remaining residue left behind by cooking oil stains on clothes by popping them into a regular laundry cycle. The washing machine should be set to the highest possible temperature that the clothes can take. If they cannot be machine-washed, ensure Steps 2 and 3 have been thoroughly completed, and then hand-wash as normal, using more Tough Love Stain Remover for the best results. For garments that can withstand higher temperatures, a capful or so of one of our eco washes will help keep the stain out and have them smelling of wonderful natural fragrances


Step 5 – Air Dry

The final top tip to keeping those stains out: avoid tumble-drying those clothes. When fabric is wet from the wash, any stubbornly remaining grease will be hard to see. The high temperatures of machine drying can bake cooking oil stains on clothes even further, making it far harder to remove fully. Once your clothing has air-dried, check to see if there is any lingering residue. If there is, repeat the above steps until it’s all gone.

Other Solutions

If the oil stain is on something that cannot be washed (such as heavy clothes or upholstery) or you need a quick fix right now, there are a few household remedies that you can try.

Absorbent Powders

As previously mentioned, our Tough Love Stain Remover is a powder that can absorb the oil and lift it from the fabric. Baking soda and white chalk also work as an oil stain remover in this way. Once you have blotted away the excess oil, apply either powder directly to the affected area. Leave it, then brush or vacuum away. If it needs a helping hand, gently scrub it with some soap and water. However, be very careful not to leave this for too long! Baking soda can eat fabrics if it is left
for extended periods.

Other Soaps

Washing-up liquid is designed to clean the grease from your dishes, and it can do the same for your clothes. Add a few drops to the stain and let it soak, rubbing gently with your fingers, a sponge or a toothbrush before rinsing with water.


For olive oil and other viscous cooking oils, your one solution may be chemical bleach. Be incredibly careful with its application, as bleach (like baking soda) can eat away at your clothes and turn white clothing yellow. Further, avoid using on coloured fabrics, as it will cause discolouration.

So now you are armed with all the knowledge of a professional oil stain remover! Prepared with your ‘power powder’, you are safe from cooking oil stains on clothes and any machinery, no matter how susceptible you are to being covered in grease splashes. Even better, our plastic-free products keep your fabrics safe from the wear-and-tear of laundry day. You can enjoy your stain-free clothes for longer, knowing you are contributing to making our planet a greener place.

We’ve got you covered for a pleasurable laundry day, even when it comes to delicate and hard-to-wash fabrics. Shop our full range of environmentally friendly detergents and clothing care tools to keep your clothes pristine and fresh, without washing becoming a chore, and make sure you're prepared for the next time you need to know how to remove oil stains



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