How to Get Oil Stains Out of Clothes

Updated: Apr. 17, 2023

Oil stains are famously hard to remove, but not impossible! Find out how to get oil out of clothes with a few simple products.

Oil stains are sneaky stains because they don’t look too bad when they first happen, but then get darker over time; and if not treated quickly, can become permanent. If you spill a bit of oily salad dressing down your shirt, or have a splatter accident while frying chicken; here’s how to get oil out of clothes with a few simple steps. Just remember—act fast!

Does Oil Come Out of Clothes?

Yes, you can remove oil stains from clothes if you work fast and use the right products. Just like when treating a grease stain, it’s important to start the stain-fighting steps as soon as possible. The longer it sits on the fabric, the harder it will be to remove. In fact, grease and oil stains are basically the same thing. The minor difference is grease turns to a solid at room temperature (think bacon grease after it cools), while oil is always a liquid.

How to Get Oil Out of Clothes

White Shirt Stained With oil next to strain removal supplies: tide detergent, dawn dish soap, baking soda, paper towels, and a toothbrushTMB Studio

Things You’ll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Old toothbrush
  • Laundry detergent


Step 1: Blot

Use a clean paper towel to blot up as much oil as you can from the garment. Press gently on both sides of the fabric.

Step 2: Pretreat with dish soap

Apply a few drops of Dawn liquid dish soap to the stain. Just how Dawn is effective on cutting through grease and oil when washing dishes, the same power can be applied to oil stains on clothing. The balance of surfactants (chemicals that cut through oil) in the formula works wonders on grease and oil stains. Use your finger or a soft toothbrush to work the soap into the stain.

Step 3: Sprinkle baking soda

For an extra stain-fighting step, sprinkle baking soda over the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub with your finger or a soft toothbrush. The baking soda can help absorb the oil and scrub away the oil from the fabric fibers. It is abrasive yet gentle.

Step 4: Wash

Wash the garment with a regular load of laundry on the hottest setting using a stain-fighting laundry detergent. Line dry the garment. Air drying will allow you to see if the stain is still present; it will not permanently set the stain like the dryer will. Here are a few tips to get butter out of your clothes.

Does Oil Come Out of Clothes After Washing?

Washed a clothing item before you noticed the oil stain? That’s okay. Although it might not be as effective as treating the stain immediately, you can still treat an oil stain after the garment has been washed. Just follow steps 1 through 3, then wash it again.

How Do You Get Dried Oil Out of Clothes?

If the oil stain has dried, it will be more difficult to remove, but not impossible. If the garment has been dried in the dryer before you notice the oil stain, the stain might be permanent.

The only stain remover we’ve seen remove old set-in oil stains is Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. As one five star reviewer said, “My favorite t-shirt had two oil stains and I unfortunately did not notice until after the shirt was washed and dried. I used Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover by the directions and spots were gone!!! This product works!!!!!”