How To Remove Oil Stains From Clothes: Even If The Stain Is Already Set

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How to Remove Oil Stains From Clothes Naturally

When you work with oils, you end up with a lot of stains. So knowing how to remove oil stains from clothes is a must, even if they’re set in!

Remove Oil Stains From Clothes

It seems I can’t find a shirt without an oil stain or two these days. And because I use oils every day, it’s not surprising.

I have “work” clothes that can get stains and “good” clothes that I prefer to keep clean.

Well, a few days ago I noticed several oil stains on one of my “good” shirts while folding laundry. Turns out, I washed it with a tube of my homemade vanilla lip balm.

When The Stain is Already Set

The garment had already been through the wash and dry cycles. Have you ever tried to get a stain out of clothes that have already been through the wash? Yeah, it’s next to impossible! But I needed to get the stain out because I love this shirt. Read on to learn my tricks for oil stain removal!

How To Remove Oil Stains from Clothes 1

Remove Grease Stains and Oil Stains From Clothes: Step 1

For grease stains do this. My first thought was liquid dish soap because it removes grease and oil. We use a natural dish soap that does a great job cutting through grease. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. And I also did sprinkle some baking soda on to help soak up any excess oil. Try blotting it with a paper towel.

I used those two to scrub and blot the stain and then left it alone to work. Then I rinsed the shirt and tossed it in the washing machine (using our homemade laundry detergent). I let it air dry and checked to see if the stain was still there.

It was.

If your stain remains, go to step 2.

Remove Oil Stains From Clothes: Step 2

First I repeated the blotting and scrubbing in of the baking soda and soap cleaner. Then I rinsed the shirt and put it in a hot water soak with a natural, color-safe, oxygen bleach. I let it sit for an hour and then wash it on warm.

After air drying, I was successful in removing oil stains from clothes! My shirt was good as new and you never would have known it had a stain.

Note: I used this stain fighter on a cotton shirt. The wash instructions for my shirt were to wash in cold or hot water, so I knew that hot water would not damage my fabric.

How To Remove Oil Stains from Clothes 2

If your stained article of clothing is not machine washable or cannot be washed in hot water, this method might not work for you. It also could damage fabrics if they are hand-wash or dry clean only.  Make sure you test the oxygen bleach on a small part of your fabric to see how it reacts.

Also, be sure to air dry your article of clothing! Placing it in the dryer could set the stain even further.

How to Remove Oil Stains From Clothes Naturally

How to Remove Oil Stains From Clothes

I have tried this method for how to get oil stains out of clothes on a few other articles and it works well every time. Occasionally I have to repeat the process, but generally, one treatment and my clothes are good as new.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Active Time
15 minutes
Soaking Time
2 hours
Total Time
2 hours 20 minutes
Estimated Cost



  1. Place the stained article of clothing on a flat surface and apply several drops of natural dish soap to the stained areas.
  2. Using a wet toothbrush, massage the soap into the stain.
  3. Cover the area with baking soda and brush the soda into the entire area with a toothbrush.
  4. Continue adding baking soda and brushing into the stain until the baking soda creates a paste-like cover over the stained area
  5. Wait one hour, then rinse off baking soda completely.
  6. Soak clothing in warm water with 1/2 scoop of oxygen bleach mixed in for another hour.
  7. Wash clothing in the washer on warm.

  8. Air dry and repeat if necessary.

Recipe Video

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About Katie Vance

Katie is a wife, mother, aromatherapist, and lover of all things DIY. She offers consultations and gives simple aromatherapy advice at Katie Vance, Aromatherapy Simplified. You can also find Katie on Facebook.

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  1. Lynne says

    I make a stain with Palm or you can use tallow, I use to but can’t get it any more. If you are soap maker it is easy recipe. The recipe makes 25 bars
    Lye, palm and distilled water

  2. karen says

    Since no one on this site is adverse to purchasing commercial products:. BunchaFarmers Stain Remover from a stick

  3. Nellie says

    I rub in soap and leave it outside in the sun. Ideally the whole day. So far I’ve gotten out all kinds of stains this way.

  4. Kimm says

    Goop hand cleaner works great on oil stains. Rub some Goop onto the stain and let it sit for at least 4h. Overnight works best. Wash as usual, rubbing a sm amt of liquid detergent into the stain. I’ve used this successfully to remove set-in grease stains.

  5. Katie Vance says

    Hi Irene, I haven’t tried this yet on furniture. Some furniture material has to be cleaned without a water based product, so I would check the label of your upholstery. Maybe test it out on an inconspicuous spot?

  6. Donna Hope says

    Citrasolv concentrated cleaner and degreaser Valencia orange works fantastic for getting oil stains out of clothes, even ones that have gone through the dryer. I only puncture the foil cover on the bottle top so I can just drip it where needed. It’s also great for removing sticker label glue. It only takes one application and wash for clothing, oil spots gone. It takes more removing sticker label glue, yet still I’ve had a 16 oz. bottle for at least a couple years. The Citrasolv label says it is cruelty free and vegan, also USDA Certified Biobased Product.

  7. Margaret says

    For all oil stains,anywhere, try using a light coating of bentonite clay. I use a child’s paint brush to dab it on. Let it sit for 10 minutes or longer depending how dense the stain seems…this includes stains that have gone through the dryer too! Then brush/shake off using fingers or a clean toothbrush. Stain should be gone…but if not, repeat. Works great for stains you didn’t notice until going to wear the garment. I would think it would work for upholstery, might also want to use a vacuum to pull the clay out if needed.

  8. Irene says

    Does this work, or do you have a modified method, for furniture? I have a salad dressing spill on a light beige dining chair 🙁

    Thanks for this wonderful tip!