Getting Oil Stains Out of Clothes

Written by josh baum
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Getting Oil Stains Out of Clothes

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Pre-Treating Fresh Stains

The most important thing you can do when cleaning oil stains of any kind out of clothing is to pretreat the stain quickly. If you can start working on the stain within minutes of getting the oil or grease on your clothes, you've got a great chance of being able to clean it completely. The best way to pretreat fresh oil stains is to absorb as much of the oil as possible while it's still wet. Cornstarch is great for this; just sprinkle some onto the stain, let it sit for a few minutes and then brush it off with your fingers. Once you've done that, the best thing to do is to coat the stain with a generous application of a laundry stain pre-treatment product. These are available anywhere washing powder is sold and come in liquid, gel and stick forms. Once the laundry stain fighter has been applied, you can usually wait several days before washing the garment if you must. However, if you can wash the garment immediately after treating the stain, that's usually better.

Pre-Treating Well-Set Stains

If you can't do anything about the stain right away and it sets before you can act, you'll definitely have a harder time removing it. Fortunately, there are still actions you can take to loosen the stain before washing it. Start by laying down two layers of paper towels and then laying the garment stain-side down on top of them. Apply a dry cleaning solvent, which is also available anywhere washing powder is sold, to another paper towel and scrub the back side of the stained section. This will release some of the oil stain into the two layers of paper towels; you may want to change these paper towels once or twice as you go, depending on how much of the stain you manage to scrub out this way. After you've released as much of the stain as will come out, coat the area with a laundry stain treatment and wash it as soon as possible.

Washing Oil-Stained Clothes

If you've pretreated your stains properly and in a timely fashion, a regular cycle through the washing machine should be just as effective as any other washing method. Follow the washing instructions on the garment's label, but use the hottest water you feel you can safely use. Be sure to use plenty of detergent, as well. If the garment is white, you may find more success substituting bleach for ordinary detergent. When the garment has finished washing, hang it to air dry rather than putting it in the dryer. When the garment is dry, what you see is usually what you get. Some stains will come out completely, others only somewhat, and still others will not come out at all. If you want to take a second try at cleaning stubborn stains, you can try scrubbing them with hot water, a grease-fighting liquid dish soap and an old toothbrush. You can also take it to a professional dry cleaner for service, but if you do, be sure to point out the location of the stain when you drop it off.

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