How to get grease stains out of clothes

Grease stains can be one of the toughest types of stains to remove from clothing. Whether it’s from cooking oil, motor oil, or another greasy substance, these oily marks can be stubborn and difficult to get out. But with the right techniques and products, it is possible to successfully remove grease stains from clothes and restore them to their original clean condition.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the best methods and step-by-step instructions for getting grease stains out of all kinds of fabrics, from delicate silk to sturdy denim. We’ll also share some pro tips, and common mistakes to avoid, and recommend some top commercial products for tackling tough grease stains. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to tackle even the most stubborn grease stains and keep your wardrobe looking fresh.

get grease stains out of clothes

What Causes Grease Stains?

Grease stains are caused by oil-based substances that get transferred onto fabric. This can happen in all sorts of everyday situations, such as:

  • Cooking with oil or butter and splattering it onto your clothes
  • Working on a car or machinery and getting motor oil on your clothes
  • Handling greasy foods like french fries or burgers and having the oil transfer to your clothing
  • Using hair products or lotions that contain oils or silicones and getting them on your shirt collar or cuffs

The oil in these substances penetrates deep into the fibres of the fabric, making the stain hard to remove. Grease stains also tend to attract and trap dirt, further setting the stain over time.

The sooner you can treat a grease stain, the better. Fresh stains are generally easier to remove than ones that have had time to fully set into the fabric.

Effective Grease Stain Removal Methods

There are a few key methods that work well for getting grease stains out of clothes. The best approach will depend on the type of fabric, how fresh the stain is, and what products you have on hand. Here are some of the most effective grease stain removal techniques:

  1. Blot and Absorb the Stain – As soon as you notice a grease stain, the first step is to blot it with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel. This helps soak up as much of the oil as possible before it can fully set into the fabric. Gently blot the stain, don’t rub, as this can spread the stain.
  2. Use a Grease-Cutting Dish Soap – Dish soap is surprisingly effective at cutting through grease and oil. Apply a small amount of grease-fighting dish soap like Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid directly to the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then, gently rub the soap into the fabric using your fingers or a soft brush. Rinse with cold water.
  3. Try a Baking Soda Paste – Baking soda is a natural grease-cutter and absorbent that can help lift oil stains. Make a paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water. Rub this paste into the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing. The baking soda will help draw the grease out of the fabric fibres.
  4. Apply a Stain Remover – There are many commercial stain removal products formulated specifically for grease and oil stains. Look for ones containing solvents, enzymes, or surfactants that can penetrate and break down the grease, like Biz Advanced Stain Fighter. Apply the stain remover, let it sit per the instructions, and then wash the item.
  5. Use an Iron and Paper towel – This method uses the heat from an iron to help lift the grease stain. Place a clean paper towel or absorbent cloth under the stained area, then place another paper towel on top of the stain. Iron over the top towel on a hot setting, checking periodically. The heat will draw the oil out of the fabric and into the paper towels.
  6. Try Laundry Pre-Treaters – Pre-treatment sprays, gels, or sticks designed for laundry can be very effective on grease stains. Apply the product directly to the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then wash the item. The pre-treater helps break down the oil so it can be more easily removed in the wash, like Shout Advanced Stain Remover.
  7. Wash in Hot Water with Degreasing Detergent – Washing the item in hot water with a heavy-duty, degreasing laundry detergent can help dissolve and flush out remaining grease stains. Look for detergents with ingredients like enzymes or solvents that specifically target oil-based stains, like Persil ProClean Original Scent Detergent.

Grease Stain Removal Tips

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when treating grease stains:

  • Avoid putting the stained item in the dryer, as the heat can set the stain. Always air dry items with grease stains.
  • For set-in grease stains, you may need to repeat the stain removal process a few times before it comes out completely.
  • Be cautious with delicate fabrics like silk or satin, as harsher stain removal methods could damage the material. Stick to gentler techniques.
  • Never use hot water on a grease stain, as this can cause the oil to further penetrate the fabric. Always use cold or warm water.
  • Blot the stain, don’t rub – rubbing can spread the grease and push it deeper into the fibres.
  • Test any stain removal products on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure they don’t cause discolouration or damage.

Removing Grease Stains from Different Fabrics

The techniques above work well for treating grease stains on a variety of fabrics, but there are some slight variations depending on the material:

Cotton, Polyester, and Other Synthetics

These durable, machine-washable fabrics respond well to a combination of stain-removal products, hot water, and agitation in the washing machine. Use a heavy-duty detergent like Persil ProClean and consider adding borax or washing soda to the wash as well.

Silk and Other Delicates

Delicate fabrics require a more gentle touch. Avoid anything too harsh or abrasive. Stick to methods like dish soap, baking soda paste, or commercial stain removers specifically made for silk, like Biz Advanced Stain Fighter. Hand wash in cold water and air dry.


The lanolin in wool can sometimes make grease stains more stubborn. Try using a mild dish soap or wool-safe stain remover, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid putting wool in the washing machine, as the agitation can damage the fabric. Instead, spot clean or hand wash.


The thick, sturdy cotton of denim can stand up to more aggressive stain removal methods. Try using a degreasing dish soap, baking soda paste, or commercial stain remover like Shout Advanced Stain Remover. You can also rub the stain with a small amount of rubbing alcohol before washing.

When to Call in Professional Cleaning

For especially stubborn grease stains or delicate fabrics, you may want to consider taking the item to a professional dry cleaner. Commercial-grade solvents and techniques can often remove stains that are resistant to at-home methods. Dry cleaners also have the expertise to treat tricky fabrics without causing damage.

Preventing Future Grease Stains

Of course, the best approach is to avoid getting grease stains on your clothes in the first place. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Wear an apron or other protective clothing when cooking, working on cars, or handling greasy foods.
  • Be extra careful when wearing your “good” clothes around grease-prone activities.
  • Treat stains as soon as possible before they have a chance to set in.
  • Store clean clothes in a closet or drawer to keep them free of airborne grease and oil.

With the right stain removal techniques and a little prevention, you can keep your wardrobe looking fresh and clean, even with the occasional grease mishap. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to restoring your clothes to their former glory.

Top Commercial Products for Grease Stain Removal

To make the stain removal process even easier, consider using one of these top-rated commercial products formulated specifically for tackling tough grease and oil stains:

ProductKey Features
Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid– Powerful grease-cutting formula
– Safe for use on a variety of fabrics
– Affordable and easy to find
Biz Advanced Stain Fighter– Pre-treatment formula penetrates and lifts stains
– Works on a variety of stains, not just grease
– Can be used on both washable and dry clean-only fabrics
Shout Advanced Stain Remover– Pre-treatment formula penetrates and lifts stains
– Works on a variety of stains, not just grease
– Can be used on both washable and dry clean only fabrics
Persil ProClean Original Scent Detergent– Heavy-duty degreasing detergent
– Powerful cleaning formula with OxiClean technology
– Helps remove tough grease and oil stains in the wash

By keeping these specialized stain removal products on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle even the most stubborn grease stains quickly and effectively.

Sharing Is Caring:

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.