How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

When considering how to remove grease stains from clothes, look no further than your pantry and laundry room. Grease stains may seem challenging, but all you need is a few common household products and the proper timing for successful stain removal. 

remove grease stains from clothes

Timing for Removal of Grease Stains

As with many stains, time is always an important factor. The longer a grease or oil stain remains on a fabric, the harder it becomes for removal. The clothes we love to wear often feature special materials that "attract" grease and oil. Synthetic fabrics and permanent-press cottons act as magnets, drawing grease to them. These fabrics require extremely prompt treatment.The oils in the stain soak into the fibers of the fabric, taking the stain deep into the material. In order to completely remove grease stains from clothes, you must treat as soon as possible.

Easily Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

When food spills or grease drips, immediately reach for a paper towel to gently lift up any excess material from the surface of the fabric. Resist the urge to blot the material in order to soak up the grease -- this will simply force the grease further into the fabric. Instead, gather a few simple items and easily remove the grease stain. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Clean, White Towel
  • Baking Soda
  • Prewash Stain Treatment
  • Heavy-duty Laundry Detergent
  1. Fold a clean, white towel so that it is several layers thick.
  2. Place the grease stained area over the towel. The towel can also be folded and placed inside a sleeve or pants. This will protect the opposing side of the garment from becoming grease stained. 
  3. Apply a thick layer of baking soda over the surface of the grease stain. The baking soda absorbs grease, making the removal of the stain easier. Other grease-absorbing substances include talcum powder, corn starch and chalk powder. Allow to work for 10 minutes and then lightly brush from the fabric.
  4. Apply prewash stain treatment to the grease stain. You can substitute heavy-duty laundry detergent or mild dishwashing liquid, if necessary. Allow to penetrate the stain for up to 30 minutes. In an emergency, powdered laundry detergent can be mixed with water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the stain as you would any other stain treatment. 
  5. Launder the clothing in cold water and the recommended amount of heavy-duty laundry detergent. 

Do Not Apply Heat

Heat takes an easily removable grease stain and sets it in place, often making it nearly impossible to remove. Grease stains often appear on clothing as just slightly darker splotches. Once you wet the clothing, it is nearly impossible to see the stained area. After treating the stain, hang the clothing to air dry. Once the clothing dries and is stain-free, you can then wash and dry as normal.

Treatment for Set-In Grease Stains

When grease stained clothing slips through into the dryer, it may seem that the stain will be impossible to remove. While not guaranteed to work on all fabrics and on all grease stains, dry cleaning solvent may help remove grease stains from clothing. The solvent works to break down the bond between the grease and the fabric fibers. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Clean, White Towel
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry Cleaning Solvent
  • Heavy-duty Laundry Detergent
  1. Position the stain over a folded, white towel. 
  2. Apply a generous amount of baking soda to the surface of the grease stain. Allow to remain on the stain for ten minutes, and then dust off. 
  3. Sponge the grease stain with a clean, white towel saturated with dry cleaning solvent. 
  4. Allow to dry. 
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the stain disappears. 
  6. Launder as normal. Hang to dry to ensure all grease stains are removed. 

Remaining Color Stains

After removing the grease stain, you may find that a discoloration remains on the fabric. This happens when there is a dye or color to the grease. Treat the entire garment using chlorine or color-safe bleach, according to the type of fabric. Fabrics not safe for bleaching may be placed in an oxygen-activated laundry product, such as Oxy-Clean. 

By taking the time to quickly treat grease stains and using caution with heat-setting drying, you can easily remove the vast majority of grease and oil stains from clothing. Clothing labeled "dry-clean only" should be taken to the cleaners as soon as possible. This will enable the cleaner to promptly treat the stain, which will increase the success for removal.