How to Get Oil Stains Out of Clothes

Oil stains on clothing can come from many sources: oil from foods, motor oils, cosmetic oils, even natural skin oils. The good news is, you don't need to know what kind of oil caused that oil stain in order to remove it; you can follow the following steps to remove oil stains on clothes from any source.

The most important thing to remember about removing oil stains on clothing is to never dry an oil-stained garment in the dryer unless the stain has been completely removed. The heat from a dryer or clothing iron will permanently set most oil stains, making them impossible to remove.

get oil stains out of clothes

Using Liquid Laundry Detergent to Remove Oil Stains on Clothes

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Liquid Laundry Detergent

For many oil stains, all it takes to make them history is a dose of the same liquid laundry detergent you use to launder your clothing. The key is treating the stain quickly; liquid laundry detergent works best at removing oil stains from clothing when it's used on fresh oil stains.

To remove oil stains from clothes using liquid laundry detergent:

  1. Pour liquid laundry detergent directly on to the stain.
  2. Rub the stain to break up the oil.
  3. Rinse in cool water; if any traces of the stain remain, repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Launder according to label directions in the hottest water safe for the garment.
  5. Air dry garment to determine whether or not the stain has been removed. If not, try the dishwashing detergent and/or ammonia method below.

Using Dishwashing Detergent to Remove Oil Stains on Clothes

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Basic Liquid Dishwashing Detergent (do not use moisturizing formulas or formulas with bleach)
  • Liquid Laundry Detergent

Not surprisingly, the same liquid dishwashing detergent that removes oil and grease from your dinnerware and silverware makes a great oil stain remover on your clothing. The best liquid dishwashing detergents for oil stain remover on clothing are the most basic formulas -- the regular clear blue, yellow or green varieties that are sold under many brand or store names. The fancy dishwashing detergents that contain bleach or moisturizing elements that help protect your hands are not suitable for use on clothing, as these additives may stain or bleach fabrics.

A bottle of basic liquid dishwashing detergent is a great substitute for pricier laundry stain removers, as dishwashing detergent is often as good or better at removing oily, greasy, waxy or protein stains as stain removers specifically for laundry.

To remove oil stains on clothes using liquid dishwashing detergent:

  1. Squirt liquid dishwashing detergent directly on to the stain.
  2. Rub the stain to break up the oil.
  3. Rinse in cool water; if any traces of the stain remain, repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Launder using liquid laundry detergent according to label directions, in the hottest water safe for the garment.
  5. Air dry garment to determine whether or not the stain has been removed. If not, try the ammonia method below.

Using Ammonia to Remove Oil Stains From Clothes

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Ammonia
  • Protective waterproof gloves
  • Liquid Laundry Detergent

Ammonia is one of the most powerful oil cutting cleaners available, and while most of us know that ammonia works wonders on hard surfaces, ammonia is rarely used as a stain remover for clothing. However, ammonia's oil-fighting power is just as impressive on clothing as it is on hard surfaces. The trick is knowing how to use ammonia to remove oil stains on clothing.

To remove oil stains on clothes using ammonia:

  1. Wet the oil stain with cool water.
  2. Don protective gloves.
  3. Soak the oil stain with ammonia.
  4. Rub the stain to break up the oil.
  5. Rinse in cool water; if any traces of the stain remain, repeat steps 3 and 4.
  6. Rinse again in cool water.
  7. Launder using liquid laundry detergent according to label directions, in the hottest water safe for the garment.
  8. Air dry garment to determine whether or not the stain has been removed. If not, try the ammonia method below.