How to get canola oil out of clothes

Canola oil is a versatile and widely used cooking oil, but it can be a real pain to remove from clothing when spills and splatters occur. Whether you’re frying up some french fries, sautéing vegetables, or baking with canola oil, accidents can happen that leave oily stains on your shirt, pants, or other fabrics.

The good news is that with the right techniques, you can effectively remove canola oil from most types of clothing. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions for getting canola oil out of different fabric materials, as well as provide tips for prevention and advice on when to take stained items to the dry cleaner.

get canola oil out of clothes

Why is Canola Oil So Hard to Remove?

Canola oil, like many other cooking oils, is notoriously difficult to get out of clothes due to its chemical composition. Canola oil is composed primarily of unsaturated fats, which means the molecules in the oil have double bonds between the carbon atoms. This molecular structure makes canola oil liquid at room temperature and gives it a relatively low smoke point, making it well-suited for frying and sautéing.

However, the same properties that make canola oil useful in the kitchen also make it stubborn when it comes to stain removal. The unsaturated fats in canola oil can penetrate deep into fabric fibres and adhere to them, forming a greasy, oily residue that is resistant to typical washing methods.

Additionally, canola oil has a high-fat content, which means it can leave behind a visible stain even after initial cleaning attempts. This is in contrast to water-based stains, which may be less noticeable after the first wash.

Factors That Affect Canola Oil Stain Removal

The ease with which you can remove a canola oil stain from clothing can depend on several key factors:

Fabric Type

Different fabric materials respond differently to canola oil stains and stain removal methods. Delicate fabrics like silk or satin may be more prone to damage from aggressive scrubbing or harsh cleaning products. Tightly woven fabrics like cotton or polyester, on the other hand, are generally more resilient and better able to withstand stain removal efforts.

For example, a 100% cotton t-shirt may be easier to treat than a silk blouse when dealing with a canola oil stain.

Age of the Stain

The longer a canola oil stain has had to set into the fabric, the harder it will be to remove. Fresh stains that are addressed immediately are typically much easier to lift out compared to stains that have had time to fully absorb into the fibres and oxidize.

Amount of Oil

The size and severity of the oil stain can also impact the difficulty of removal. A small splatter is generally simpler to treat than a large, saturated stain that has soaked through multiple layers of fabric.

Temperature of the Stain

Canola oil stains that occur when the oil is hot, such as from frying or sautéing, can be more challenging to remove than stains from cooled oil. The heat can cause the oil to penetrate deeper into the fabric before it has a chance to congeal.

How to Remove Canola Oil Stains from Clothes

Now that we’ve covered some of the key factors that influence canola oil stain removal, let’s dive into the step-by-step process for getting these stubborn stains out of your clothes. We’ll go through different methods and techniques depending on the fabric type and age of the stain.

For Fresh Canola Oil Stains on Cotton or Polyester

If you catch a canola oil spill right away, you have the best chance of getting the stain out before it has time to fully set. Follow these steps:

  1. Blot the stain. Use a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towels to gently blot at the oil stain and soak up as much of the excess oil as possible. Avoid rubbing, as this can push the oil further into the fabric.
  2. Apply a stain pretreatment. Look for a stain remover or pretreatment product specifically formulated for oil-based stains, such as Biz Advanced Stain Fighting Booster. Apply it directly to the affected area, making sure to cover the entire stain. Allow it to sit for the recommended time, usually 5-10 minutes.
  3. Wash in the hottest recommended water temperature. Machine wash the item in the hottest water temperature that’s safe for the fabric, using a heavy-duty laundry detergent like Tide Original Scent Liquid Laundry Detergent. The heat will help break down and lift the oil from the fibres.
  4. Air dry. Avoid putting the item in the dryer, as the heat can set any remaining oil stain. Instead, hang or lay the item flat to air dry.
  5. Repeat as needed. If any residual staining remains after the first wash, repeat the pretreatment and washing process until the stain is fully removed.

For Dried or Set-in Canola Oil Stains on Cotton or Polyester

If the canola oil stain has had time to fully absorb into the fabric, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to help lift it out:

  1. Pretreat with a degreasing agent. Look for a stain remover or pretreatment product that contains degreasers or solvents like enzymes or petroleum distillates, such as Zout Laundry Stain Remover. Apply it to the stain and let it sit for the recommended time.
  2. Gently scrub the stain. Using a soft-bristled brush or your fingertips, lightly scrub the pretreated area to help work the degreasing agents into the fabric and break up the oil.
  3. Wash in the hottest water. Launder the item in the hottest water temperature safe for the fabric, using a heavy-duty detergent. You may also want to add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to help cut through the oil.
  4. Air dry, then check. Allow the item to fully air dry, then inspect the area. If the stain is still visible, repeat the pretreatment, scrubbing, and washing process.
  5. Try an enzyme cleaner. For particularly stubborn set-in stains, you can also try using an enzyme-based stain remover like Persil ProClean Stain Fighter. These products contain enzymes that work to break down and lift oil-based stains.

For Delicate Fabrics Like Silk or Satin

When dealing with canola oil stains on more delicate fabrics, you’ll need to take a gentler approach to avoid damaging the material:

  1. Blot the stain. Use clean, absorbent cloths or paper towels to gently blot at the stain and soak up as much of the excess oil as possible.
  2. Apply a mild detergent solution. Mix a small amount of a mild, gentle laundry detergent like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lavender Laundry Detergent with cool water. Dip a clean sponge or cloth into the solution and dab it onto the stain, avoiding any rubbing or scrubbing.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Once you’ve treated the stain, rinse the area thoroughly with cool, clean water to remove any residual detergent.
  4. Dry clean if needed. For persistent stains on delicate fabrics, it’s best to take the item to a professional dry cleaner. The harsh chemicals and agitation of home washing can potentially damage the fabric.

Tips for Preventing Canola Oil Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with canola oil stains is to avoid them in the first place. Here are some tips for preventing these pesky spots from occurring on your clothing:

  • Wear an apron or smock when cooking with canola oil. This creates a barrier to protect your clothes from splashes and spills.
  • Be extra careful when pouring or handling hot canola oil. The heat can cause the oil to splatter more easily.
  • Clean up spills immediately. The sooner you can treat a fresh canola oil stain, the easier it will be to remove.
  • Avoid wearing your “good” clothes for messy cooking tasks. Keep an old t-shirt or outfit specifically for when you know you’ll be working with oils.
  • Store canola oil bottles and containers carefully to prevent leaks or drips.

When to Take Canola Oil Stains to the Dry Cleaner

In some cases, it may be best to take clothing with stubborn canola oil stains to a professional dry cleaner, rather than trying to remove them at home. This is especially true for:

  • Delicate fabrics like silk, satin, or lace can easily be damaged by aggressive stain removal techniques.
  • Clothing with set-in, ground-in stains that have had a long time to fully absorb into the fibres.
  • Large, heavily saturated stains cover a significant area of the garment.

Dry cleaners have access to powerful solvents and specialized stain removal methods that can be more effective on deeply set-in canola oil stains. They can also assess the fabric type and condition to determine the safest approach. While it may cost a bit more, taking heavily stained items to the dry cleaner can sometimes be the best way to salvage the clothing.


Removing canola oil stains from clothing can be a tricky and frustrating task, but with the right techniques, it is certainly possible. By understanding the properties of canola oil and how it interacts with different fabrics, you can tackle these stubborn spots using a systematic approach.

Whether you’re dealing with a fresh spill or a set-in stain, the key is to act quickly, use the appropriate pretreatment and washing methods for the fabric type, and be willing to repeat the process as needed. With a little elbow grease and the right cleaning products, you can get your clothes looking as good as new, even after an unfortunate canola oil mishap.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.