How to Get Grease out of Clothes

Updated
Categories Doing Laundry
Get grease off of canvas, linen, wool and other fabrics. 

Grease seems to be the number one enemy when it comes to staining clothes. It’s like, no matter what, if you’re eating something greasy, you’re unlucky enough for it to drip on your clothes.

But there’s no need to fear, panic or throw away the garment. Because we can teach you how to get grease out of clothes, so they’re as good as new!

How to Get Grease out of Clothes

As soon as you notice the grease, treat the stain. Blot excess grease out with a paper towel. Cover the stain with regular dish soap. Rub it in with a clean soft toothbrush. Leave for 30 minutes, before rinsing the garment in hot water. Launder as normal. Air dry before checking the stain.


How to Remove Grease From Clothes With Dish Soap

Our first tip is to try removing the grease stain with dish soap. After all, dish soap is made to cut grease from your plates and pans. So, it tends to work to get out grease stains on clothing, too.

What You Need

  • Regular dish soap. (Colorless is best).
  • Clean toothbrush.
  • Paper towel.
  • Rubber gloves (optional).

Step by Step Instructions

Act Quickly

Follow these steps as soon as you notice a grease stain. The sooner you tackle it, the more likely you are to get out the grease.
  1. Check the fabric care label: If it says dry clean only, then don’t use this trick. We also don’t recommend using this technique on delicates. That includes silk, velvet, satin, leather or suede.
  2. Blot the grease: First, blot the grease with a dry paper towel to absorb as much as possible. Be gentle, and don’t rub as this can embed the grease even further into the fabric.
  3. Cover with dish soap: Now, pour regular dish soap over the grease stain. We recommend a colorless dish soap so that the color doesn’t stain your clothing. Thoroughly soak the affected area with the soap.
  4. Rub: Get a clean toothbrush (one you aren’t going to use for your teeth!) and carefully rub the grease stain in circular motions for a few seconds. This will help rub the soap into the clothing’s fibres.
  5. Leave alone: Now, leave the garment alone for 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse: Rinse the stain in the hottest water that the garment will allow. If the garment says cold water only, it might be harder to remove the stain. But if you’ve always washed the garment in hot water, it will be fine to do so here. Rub the stain gently while you rinse it to help remove the grease. Wear rubber gloves if the water is too hot.
  7. Launder as normal: You can now wash your clothes as normal, whether this is usually by hand or in your machine.
  8. Check the stain: Air dry the item and then check if the stain is gone. If it is, you can wash and dry as normal from now on. If it’s not gone yet, repeat these steps until you notice a difference.

How to Get Grease out of Different Fabrics

When it comes to getting grease out of clothes, each fabric requires a different method. We’ll walk you through 13 common fabrics to help you battle those terrible grease stains!

Canvas

For canvas clothing, you can definitely try out our dish soap technique! However, you can also check out this other method, too.

  1. Start with saturating the affected area with a heavy-duty laundry detergent. You can also use a pretreatment spray, or make your own paste with your powder detergent and water.
  2. Use your finger, a cloth or a soft toothbrush to gently work your detergent into the stain.
  3. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Wash the garment in the hottest water possible.
  5. Air-dry, then check the stain is gone before drying.

Don’t Dry Until It’s Gone

Remember, a dryer will set the stain, so don’t put it in the dryer unless the grease is definitely gone!

Chenille

If your chenille garment is washable, follow these instructions:

  1. Apply cornstarch or baby powder to the grease stain. We recommend these because they are very absorbent.
  2. Let it sit for five minutes, then gently brush it away. This might be enough to get out the grease stain. But if not, apply a stain pretreatment product to the affected area. Make sure to follow the product’s specific instructions here.
  3. Now, wash according to the care label.
  4. Air-dry the garment, because the grease stain can just look like water if the garment is wet.
  5. If it’s definitely gone, congrats! If not, repeat this process again.

Corduroy

For corduroy, you should follow the same instructions as chenille:

  1. Apply cornstarch or baby powder to the stain. Let it sit for five minutes, then brush it off.
  2. If the grease stain is gone, that’s great. But if not, apply a stain pretreatment product, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Wash according to the care label.
  4. Air-dry to check the stain is definitely gone.
  5. If it is, you’re good to go. If not, repeat these steps to try again.

Leather

  1. Use a paper towel or clean cloth to blot the stain. This will help get out any surface grease.
  2. Use a quality saddle soap to remove any residue. If that doesn’t work, use an absorbent like cornstarch or baking powder to rub the grease stain gently.
  3. Let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight.
  4. Brush the powder off.
  5. If the stain remains, repeat these steps.
  6. Once you’re done, use a leather cleaner or conditioner on the garment.

Follow Instructions

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a saddle soap and leather cleaner. These will vary from product to product. The last thing you want right now is to ruin your garment further.

Linen

Linen is a lovely fabric that you don’t want to ruin. If you get grease on your linen items, try the following:

  1. Start with saturating the stain with a heavy-duty detergent, pretreatment spray or a thin paste made from your powdered detergent and water.
  2. Gently work the detergent into the grease stain with your finger, a cloth or a soft toothbrush.
  3. Wash with the warmest water possible — make sure to check the care label.
  4. Air dry to check the stain is definitely gone.
  5. Repeat these steps until the stain is gone.

Cotton

For grease stains on cotton clothes, follow these steps:

  1. Soak the stained area with a heavy-duty detergent, pretreatment spray or a thin paste made from powdered detergent and water.
  2. Be gentle, but work the detergent into the grease stain with your finger, a cloth or soft toothbrush.
  3. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Check the care label, and wash with the hottest water possible.
  5. Air-dry to check the stain is gone.
  6. If it is, you’ve done it! If not, repeat these steps until the stain is removed.
  7. After that, you can go back to tumble drying the garment.

Nylon

For nylon, you’ll need a pretreatment product specifically for oily stains for the best results. If you have a lot of nylon items, you might want to buy such a product right now to prepare you for all the grease stains ahead!

If you don’t have that option, you can definitely try a liquid detergent. Follow these steps to remove grease:

  1. Rub your nylon pretreatment product or liquid detergent gently into the grease stain.
  2. Use the warmest water possible — per the care label recommendations — to wash the item.
  3. Air dry to check the stain, and repeat these steps if the stain remains.

Grease stains are easier to remove the sooner you treat them, especially for nylon. Nylon’s static quality tends to hold onto stains and odors a lot stronger (1). So as soon as you see the stain, you should apply aerosol pretreatment laundry stain remover for at least a minute before washing.

If the stain remains, the last resort would be to try chlorine bleach for whites, and color-safe bleach for colored clothes.

Polyester

For polyester items, you should use a pretreatment product made specifically for oily stains to get the best results. You can also use a liquid detergent if the former suggestion isn’t an option. Once you’re set, follow these steps:

  1. Rub your selected product into the grease stain gently.
  2. Use the hottest water possible to launder. Always check the fabric care label.
  3. Air dry to check the stain is gone.
  4. Repeat these steps until the stain is gone.

If the stain remains, try using an oxygen bleach to help remove the grease. And make sure to never tumble dry until you’re 100 percent sure the stain is gone. Remember, heat can set the grease into the garment forever.

Silk

It’s a sad day when you splash grease onto a silk garment. Here’s what you can do:

  1. First, blot away as much of the grease as possible with a paper towel or clean white cloth.
  2. Apply cornstarch or baking powder, as these are absorbent.
  3. Leave overnight.
  4. Gently brush it off in the morning and reapply if the stain remains.
  5. If the stain still isn’t gone, use a clear dish soap and dab it onto the affected area. Let this sit for one hour.
  6. Dab with cool water and blot dry.

Spandex or Lycra

For grease stains on spandex or lycra, we recommend this method:

  1. Use a pretreatment product made specifically for oily stains — or use liquid detergent — and rub it into the grease stain.
  2. Wash the garment in the hottest water possible to wash the garment. Always check the care label to see the temperature recommended.
  3. Air dry, inspect the garment for the stain and repeat these steps if the grease remains.

If the grease still isn’t gone, you can use a chlorine bleach for whites, or a color-safe bleach for colors.

Suede

Suede can be a tricky material to clean, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you should do:

  1. First, blot the excess oil with a paper towel or clean white cloth.
  2. Dip a separate cloth into cornmeal — it’s an absorbent — and rub into the stain using circular motions.
  3. When the garment is dry, use a wire brush to gently brush away the cornmeal.
  4. Repeat if necessary.

If the stain won’t go, you can use lemon juice. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. First, test lemon juice on an inconspicuous area of the garment. If the suede doesn’t react badly, rub the grease stain with the lemon juice.
  2. Then hold it over the steam of a kettle for a few minutes. Make sure to wear protective gloves as this will be hot!
  3. Finally, brush gently over the stain with a wire brush.

Velvet

For washable velvet garments, try this to remove grease:

  1. Apply an absorbent like baby powder or cornstarch to the stain.
  2. Let it sit for at least five minutes before gently brushing it away. This could be enough to remove the grease stain!
  3. If it doesn’t work, apply a stain pretreatment product to the grease mark.
  4. Wash the item according to the care label instructions.
  5. Air-dry before inspecting the stain.
  6. If it’s definitely gone, you can wash and dry as you normally would. But be careful about putting it in the tumble dryer, as the heat can set the grease stain.

Wool

Lastly, how do you get grease stains out of wool? Here’s what you do:

  1. Scrape off as much of the grease as you can.
  2. Apply an absorbent product like cornstarch or baking soda onto the surface of the wool.
  3. Leave it to sit for at least an hour.
  4. Gently brush it away and reapply if the stain remains.
  5. If it’s still there, soak the stain with cold soapy water and a splash of distilled white vinegar. Then blot with clean water before blot drying with a paper towel or cloth.
  6. If the stain is still there, even after these tips, try a consumer dry-cleaning solvent. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product carefully.

Tips for Removing Grease Stains From Clothes

We hope we’ve set you on the right path when it comes to removing grease stains from clothes. Now that you have the basic principles for a variety of fabrics, here are some additional tips.

  • If using a toothbrush to work at the stain, use one with soft bristles. This will be gentler on your garments.
  • For smaller stains, you can try rubbing alcohol. Soak a cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol and blot onto the grease stain. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with hot water and air-drying.
  • For extremely stubborn stains, repeat the above tip but with acetone instead. Acetone is a solvent so it can be useful for getting out grease stains.
  • Wear an apron when getting out grease stains. You don’t want to worsen the problem by getting grease on other garments, too.
  • You can always try aloe vera for grease stains on clothing. Test it on an inconspicuous area of the garment first to ensure it doesn’t damage the fabric.
  • Finally, if you’re nervous, or struggling to get the grease stain out, take the clothes to a dry cleaner.

Frequently Asked Questions

When learning how to get grease out of clothes, you might have some more questions. We’re here to answer them, and maybe even bust some myths about grease stain removal.

How Do You Get Grease Stains out of Clothes That Have Been Dried?

So what if you only notice a grease stain after you’ve put the item through the wash and dryer? We must warn you that the tumble dryer can set the stain so this might be ineffective. But we do have some tips to share!

  1. Read the care label to know what temperature of water to use. If possible, use warm water to wet the stain.
  2. Squirt a few drops of dish soap or a liquid laundry detergent onto the grease.
  3. Rub the material together to work the soap into the grease stain. Wear rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin.
  4. Leave for about an hour.
  5. Wipe the soap off with a paper towel.
  6. Launder as normal, using warm water if possible.
  7. Air dry the garment, then check if the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process.

Can Dry Cleaners Get Grease Stains Out?

Yes, for sure. A quality dry cleaners will be able to remove grease stains without a problem. This includes cooking oil, motor oil, butter, lotion, hair care products and much more.

Does Dawn Get Grease out of Clothes?

Dawn, a brand of dish soap, can eliminate grease stains from cotton and poly cotton clothes. So if you have Dawn in the kitchen, it could come in handy for more than just your dishes!

Does WD-40 Remove Grease?

WD-40 can remove grease stains from clothing. However, you might be left with a nasty stain from the WD-40 instead. To prevent this, always check the WD-40 on an inconspicuous area of the garment first. If it doesn’t leave a stain, you can use it for the grease mark.

  1. Spray a good amount of the WD-40 onto the grease.
  2. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Rinse the area with hot water to remove the excess oil.
  4. Cover the grease stain with liquid laundry detergent. Rub it in gently until the area is well saturated.
  5. Wash in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.
  6. Air dry, check if the stain is gone and repeat if necessary.

Goodbye, Grease!

Say goodbye to your horrible grease stains with these tips. Surely, your grease stains will be gone in a flash and your clothing will be as good as new. Always make sure to check the fabric care label to know how to wash the item.

Lastly, follow the instructions given here depending on what type of material your garment is. It’s important to use the velvet tips for velvet, and the cotton tips for cotton, and so on.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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