Removing Grease Stains from Clothing

Salad with Dressing that can Create an Oily Stain.

Removing Grease or Oil Stains from Clothing

My kids have always been a little accident prone when it comes to getting food from their plates all the way to their mouths.

Those little drips and drops of greasy gravy or oily salad dressing at dinner time are becoming a bit of a family joke – that they should wear bibs!

Joke as we may though, there’s nothing funny about stains and ruined clothing. My children have taught me to keep a sharp eye out for any spills on clothing so they can be treated before the stain sets in or the item gets washed.

My little mess makers have taught me more than a few things about removing tough grease stains from clothing.

Even the toughest grease stains can be lifted from your pants or shirt if you know what to use to break the bond it has with your clothes.

The Fresher the Stain, the Easier it is to Remove

It’s best to work on a stain as soon as possible; the fresher the stain, the easier it will be to remove.

Always treat the stain before putting the clothes in the washer or dryer. If you wash the stain in the wrong temperature, you risk the possibility of the stain spreading, or worse, it sets in and you will have a much more difficult time getting it out, if at all.

Stains from food can be difficult because the stain might have several parts to it and each part might need a different treatment. For example a gravy stain is part grease and part meat or milk solids that love to bind to fabric. A grease stain from a hamburger can be a mixture of grease, ketchup and mustard. Mustard is made with turmeric which is also used as a natural yellow fabric dye, and that’s a very tough stain to remove.

Remove the Excess Grease or Oil

Before you start, place a piece of cardboard, a towel or something in between the fabric so the grease or oil doesn’t transfer to a clean section of fabric.

Remove as much of the oil or grease as possible before you start pretreating it. If there is a blob on the clothing, lift it with a knife to remove the excess.

Then use paper towel and start blotting up any extra grease or oil from the item. This is especially important when dealing with food stains that seem to seep through fabric more quickly than heavier greases do.

Use an Absorbent Powder

One easy trick to soak up extra grease and oil from even the most delicate fabrics is to sprinkle it with talcum powder and completely cover the stained area. If you don’t have any talcum powder at home, you can also use cornstarch.

Gently brush the powder into the grease or oil stain using the back of a spoon or a new toothbrush. You will soon see clumps of powder – that’s a good thing – the powder is absorbing the oil.

Let sit for a few hours to pull out as much of the oil as it can. For larger stains you may want it to sit overnight.

When ready shake remaining powder in the garbage, if there is some left on clothing, it’s OK. You can repeat this step several times if the clothing is heavily stained.

Pretreating the Stain

Contrary to what the commercials tell you, you don’t need any stain sticks or grease removers to get rid of grease and oil.

The best thing to remove grease is a liquid detergent such as Dawn dish soap, regular shampoo or liquid laundry soap. Apply a detergent and gently rub into the stain. These products are effective – often better than using commercial grease stain removal products.

Let detergent sit for about 30 minutes, longer if you think necessary, you just don’t want the detergent to completely dry on the fabric.

Launder as Usual

Wash the item as you normally would. After removing from the washer, and before you put it into the dryer, check to make sure that no stain remains. If you are unsure, let the clothing air dry.

If any grease remains and the item is white or colorfast, you can try hydrogen peroxide. Spray a little on the stain, cover and let sit 30 minutes then check. If you’re not sure about the fabric, test in an inconspicuous spot first.

Sometimes stain removal takes several tries so don’t get discouraged if the grease or oil stain doesn’t come out after the first try but when it is gone, congratulations.