How do I get motor oil out of a white shirt?

Updated February 21, 2017

Car trouble can happen at any time, and as luck would have it, sometimes you're wearing a nice white shirt and do not keep a spare, dirty T-shirt in your trunk. Even if you're not digging deeply into the engine compartment and you're extra careful, you can still soil a white shirt with motor oil. Before you toss the shirt in your work clothes pile or dye it black to hide the stain, try removing the motor oil from your shirt with a couple of items you probably have in your home.

Blot the excess oil from the shirt with a paper towel.

Dampen the soiled area of the shirt with a sponge and apply dishwashing liquid directly to the oil stain.

Sprinkle baking soda or baby powder on the stain to absorb the oil. Allow the shirt to sit overnight.

Wash the shirt in the washing machine with hot water on the regular setting. If the fabric cannot withstand hot water, then use the warmest water possible. Use your regular washing powder to wash the shirt.

Check the shirt before drying to ensure you've completely removed the oil stain.


If some of the oil stain remains, use a bleach pen to touch up the area and launder the shirt again immediately so that the bleach does not eat through the fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Sponge
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Baking soda or baby powder
  • Washing powder
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About the Author

Kaye Morris has over four years of technical writing experience as a curriculum design specialist and is a published fiction author. She has over 20 years of real estate development experience and received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from McNeese State University along with minors in programming and English.