Coconut oil has a million uses. Including cooking and personal care. Because it’s so popular, it’s only a matter of time before coconut oil comes into contact with our clothes. When it does, it may stain, leaving us with a very important question: How to get coconut oil out of fabric?
To get coconut oil out of fabric, treat the stain as soon as possible. The first thing to do is rub baking soda or cornstarch into the stain. Keep adding the powder until it changes color. Shake off excess baking soda into the trash. Then wash the garment in the hottest setting you can.
So what is coconut oil and why does it stain clothes, carpets, and bedding? In this article, we’ll look at what it’s used for, where it’s used, and how to stop it staining our clothes.
Does Coconut Oil Stain?
The versatile and incredibly useful coconut is the fruit from the Coconut Palm. Found on tropical beaches spanning the Pacific Ocean from Madagascar to Hawaii, the humble coconut palm is known as the “Tree of Life”. It can provide food, drink, utensils, fuel, and so much more.
Coconut oil is a processed form of coconut. As coconuts are known to contain a high percentage of saturated fats, the oil tends to be fatty. It’s this fat content that causes stains when the substance comes into contact with fabric. While stains on clothing come to mind first, anything made from cotton, wool, or even man-made fibers can be affected. This includes upholstery, carpets, and bedding.
Fats create greasy stains that look like clear blotchy blemishes on the fabric and can be among some of the most time consuming to remove. The diverse and varied uses of coconut oil make contact with the fabrics in our lives an almost certainty. Whether it’s a splash of the oil while cooking, or a spill while applying moisturizer, it’s only a matter of time before stains are noticed.
There are two types of coconut oil available on the market. Raw and refined. The first, as the name suggests, is in its natural state. Never exposed to heat, raw, or unrefined, coconut oil retains more of the coconut flavor and smell. Because of this, some consider the unrefined oil to be healthier, which isn’t necessarily the case.
Refined coconut oil goes through a high-heat refining process causing it to lose some of the popular qualities like smell and taste. It’s the difference in the level of coconut flavor or aroma that determines which oil is best suited for a particular activity. If you like your body balm to smell of real coconuts, unrefined is best. For a more subtle approach, choose refined oil.
Unfortunately, the one thing both refined and unrefined oils have in common is fat. Unrefined oil will have high levels of fat. Refined oil will have lost most of its fat content in processing, but will still contain some. This means refined oil is less likely to stain your fabrics. However, having less fat content doesn’t remove the risk altogether.
When it comes to coconut oil, be prepared. Know how to get stains out regardless of the type of oil you use.
How to Get Coconut Oil Out of Clothes
There are several ways to get coconut oil out of fabric. The method you use will be determined by the item the oil has stained and also, how old the stain is.
As with any stain, the sooner you start work on removing it, the easier it will be. Your chances of a quick fix improve if you can get to the stain before the garment has been laundered. So, let’s start with the method to use for fresh stains.
How to Remove Fresh Coconut Oil Stains
To remove the stain, you will need:
- Plain white towel
- Baking soda or cornstarch
- Old toothbrush
- Dish detergent
- Somewhere to air-dry the garment
Step 1: Grab a plain, white towel. Start dabbing the coconut oil stain to blot up the excess fatty residue. It has got to be a plain white towel. Coconut oil has been known to lift the color from towels and transfer it to the garment you are trying to clean. You need to avoid that, so you don’t make the stain worse!
Step 2: Liberally sprinkle some baking soda or cornstarch onto the stain. Pile it up and then, using a toothbrush or your finger, work it into the stain. Leave it to soak up the oil. You’ll notice as the stain starts to lift, the powder will change to a light brown color. If this happens straight away, add more powder. The quicker the powder changes color, the more oil is in the fabric. Keep adding powder until the color change slows down. The color change should take at least ten minutes.
Step 3: Scrape off the powder into a trash can. Add a small drop of dish detergent to the stain. Wash the garment in the hottest water it can stand.
Step 4: Air-dry the clothing. The heat from dryers can set oil stains.
How to Get Dried Coconut Oil Out of Clothes
If you’ve found a blotchy, clear stain on your clothes, chances are it’s a fat stain. These stains are caused by all kinds of fats. For clothes, the top culprit is probably coconut oil. Especially if it happens to be in your favorite moisturizer or body balm.
The thing with old stains is, by the time you spot them, they’ve probably been through a wash cycle. Maybe even two or three. Laundering clothes can actually help set in fatty residue making the stains difficult to remove.
If you normally use a dryer, the heat can cause each strand or fiber of the fabric to get glued to the fatty residue making the stain a permanent part of the garment.
All is not lost, though. The stains can be removed. It’ll take more time and energy but it is possible. The following method will work best on white or neutral-colored clothing.
To remove the dried-on stain, you will need:
- Cardboard big enough to cover the stain
- Baking soda or cornstarch
- Old toothbrush
- Dishwashing detergent
- Somewhere to air-dry the garment after treatment
Step 1: The first thing to do is put the cardboard behind the stains you want to remove. This will stop the stains from transferring to the work surface under your garment, or to the other side of your clothing.
Step 2: Apply WD40 to the dried stains. This will help activate the fatty residue in the stain again. By reactivating them, they will loosen their grip on the fibers of your clothing. If you lift your garment, you should see the WD40 has also started to seep through to the cardboard.
Step 3: Put baking soda or cornstarch on each of the areas you treated with WD40. Using an old clean toothbrush, work the powder into the WD40 and stain mix. The powder will lift the WD40 and the reactivated oil particles. You will start to see the powder making little clumps as the process works.
Step 4: Keep adding the baking soda to the WD40 and rub it with the toothbrush. The clumps will get bigger. Shake off the excess and move on to the next stain. Repeat the process for each stained area you want to treat. Remember to shake off the baking soda regularly, so you can see the stains you still need to work on.
Step 5: Continue working on those stains until the clumping gets smaller. Have patience; this part takes time. When the baking soda stops clumping so much, it’s lifted all the WD40.
Step 6: It’s OK to remove the cardboard now. Toss the cardboard and scrape the baking soda into the trash.
Step 7: Add a drop of dish detergent to each stained area and rub it in with the toothbrush. Allow it to soak for about 15 minutes.
Step 8: Wash in the hottest water the garment can stand and air-dry.
If your garment is made from a delicate fabric or has a special finish, you may want to alter the contents of your stain busting tool kit.
Too much rubbing, even with the softest of toothbrushes may cause holes in your garment. Especially if it’s silk or another luxurious fabric.
Baking soda and a hot wash can also damage the clothing more than the original oil stain did. Silk ties and your favorite satin pajamas will need a softer touch. Use unscented baby powder instead of baking soda. Allow the baby powder to sit on the stains for at least an hour. Then, with the softest brush, or your finger, gently rub it off. Add a little dishwashing liquid to the stains and wash as normal.
Dark, Black, or Brightly Colored Cotton Fabric
Baking soda can also be a bit harsh on colored fabrics, as can hot water. Both can strip or fade the color. For dark, black, or even brightly colored fabrics, swap out the baking soda for cornstarch. Apply to the stain and allow to soak for 15-30 minutes. Wash in cold water with a little dishwashing detergent along with your normal laundry detergent.
Polyester fabric loves oil. So much so, it holds on to stains more than cotton fabrics do. Although it’s safe to use baking soda with polyester, hot water is definitely out. Because of this, you may need to rub more or add more baking soda than with other fabrics. Make sure to wash in cold water and always air-dry to prevent any remaining stains from getting more set in. If stains are still visible, repeat the process. This one may take a few tries.
How to Get Coconut Oil Out of Carpet and Sofa Coverings
It’s a little bit more difficult to get coconut oil out of carpets and sofa coverings since you can’t put either your sofa or carpet in the washing machine. Sofa coverings on the other hand may be removable. If they are, check they are washable before getting them anywhere near your washing machine. If not, you may need to take them to a professional cleaner. Or treat them as you would a carpet.
As with clothing, the faster you act on the stain, the easier it will be to remove. The type of coconut oil you are dealing with will also make a difference.
You will need:
- Kitchen Paper or tissues
- Baking soda or cornstarch
- Dish detergent
- Vacuum cleaner
- Lukewarm water
- Clean rag
Solid Coconut Oil
Step 1: Pick off the pieces of coconut oil carefully. Make sure not to rub any lumps of oil as you work. Use kitchen paper or a tissue to prevent heat from your fingers melting the solid chunks.
Step 2: Work quickly to remove as much as possible. Check for any signs of melting coconut oil soaking into your carpet or sofa. If it has, move on to treating stains from liquid oil.
Liquid Coconut Oil
Step 1: Remove any surface liquid using kitchen paper or tissues. Blot until the paper stops soaking up any moisture. Try not to rub as this could push the oil further into your carpet or sofa covers.
Step 2: Apply baking soda to the stained area. If you have a dark carpet or sofa, use cornstarch. Leave it to stand for 15-30 minutes.
Step 3: Use your vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining baking powder.
Step 4: Put a small amount of dish detergent on the stains. Dampen a clean cloth and gently rub the dish detergent into the stain. Keep doing this step until the oil mark is removed.
Step 5: Rinse the area with clean water and blot the area with kitchen paper. Make sure to soak up all the water so as not to cause a watermark.
Other Cleaning Options
The following household items are good at removing coconut oil stains. They can be used as a substitute for dish detergent but should be used with caution. Some can cause more damage.
This has to be distilled white vinegar. It can be found in the cleaning section of your local supermarket. Use with caution. Vinegar in all forms is acidic and can cause bleaching.
A known stain remover, rubbing alcohol is the go-to solution for a variety of stains. It does have some nasty side-effects though, particularly for carpets. The backing on some carpets can be dissolved by rubbing alcohol. You may want to avoid this one if you are unsure of your carpet’s backing content.
Commercial Cleaning Solutions
Dry cleaning or special carpet cleaning fluids are also available at your local store. Consider the pet and child-friendly options if your home has occupants of the small or furry variety. Also, consider the area you are treating. Some commercial cleaners contain chemicals that can damage surfaces. Always check the ingredients to make sure they are compatible with your carpet or sofa.
How to Remove Coconut Oil Stains From Bed Sheets
The process for removing coconut oil stains from bedding is similar to clothing. It all depends on the fabric your sheets are made from. Cotton, flannel, and silk are popular choices for sheets and pillowcases.
Each one can be treated as you would treat clothing made from the same fabric. Check the section above on clothing. If you’re dealing with silk sheets, make sure to read the part on delicate fabric.
How to Remove Oil Stains From Upholstery
We’ve looked at oil stains on sofa covers, but how about upholstery? Upholstery is the term given to padded coverings on armchairs or sofas. These don’t tend to be removable and are normally made from a heavier fabric known as an upholstery fabric. This term also includes leather and suede-covered furniture.
Upholstery can be treated the same way as carpets. Although you will need to be a little careful with any special finishes as these may get damaged if you rub too hard.
You will need:
- Cornstarch or baby powder
- Kitchen paper
- Distilled white vinegar
- Soft brush
Removing stains from leather is similar to the steps we took when removing stains from clothes. The main difference for leather is we need to use cornstarch instead of baking soda. Cornstarch is softer and not as abrasive, so less likely to damage the leather.
Step 1: Blot any excess oil with kitchen paper and apply the cornstarch. Leave the cornstarch on the stained leather overnight.
Step 2: Gently remove the cornstarch using a damp cloth and a small amount of white vinegar.
Step 3: Make sure all the vinegar and cornstarch is removed before allowing the area to dry.
Speed is of the essence when it comes to suede. It’s a fabric that is not resistant to water or liquids in general. Solid coconut oil is fine as long as you can get the lumps off the fabric before it starts to melt. Liquid oil needs action fast!
Step 1: Use baby powder or cornstarch to soak up the oil. Leave the powder on the stain overnight or for at least 2 hours. The powder should change color to show that it is lifting the oil out of the suede.
Step 2: Brush away the powder using the softest brush you can find.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the powder stops changing color. Dry naturally, away from sunlight or heat.
If you can get to the spilled oil as soon as it happens, blotting with kitchen paper should be enough to prevent stains on wood. Sometimes, you may need to follow these next steps too!
Step 1: Mix dish detergent with water until you have bubbles. Spread the bubbles onto the stain.
Step 2: Rub with a bristle brush until the stain is lifted.
Step 3: Wipe over with a soft cloth. Then allow it to dry naturally.
Can You Prevent Coconut Oil Staining Your Clothes?
The best way to prevent coconut oil from staining your clothes is to be extra careful when using it. Here are some steps you can take to protect your garments from damage.
Avoid Drips and Spills
Coconut oil is normally solid. However, it can melt and turn into a liquid. Especially in warmer climates or when temperatures are high.
Oil in a liquid form increases the chances of drips and spills as it becomes difficult to manipulate. Pay attention to the state your oil is in before applying and take precautions to keep your clothing out of the way.
Lean over a sink when applying moisturizer. Or finish dressing after you’ve used the oil and it has had time to dry.
Use a Cover
Some coconut hair treatments are designed to be left overnight. This can have a devastating effect on your pillows and bedding.
Placing an old, plain white towel between you and your bedding will help stop any coconut oil in your hair from staining your pillow. The old towel will soak up any excess coconut oil. Being a neutral color, any damage to the towel will either be minimal or hard to spot. Better still as the towel is white, it won’t contain any dye which could be transferred to the item you’re trying to keep clean.
Use Splatter Screens When Cooking
Oil is particularly useful when frying food. The main drawback is it tends to spit out of the pan when it gets hot. This is due to the temperature of the fat content. Coconut oil is no different.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of cooking fat splatters is to use a splatter screen. A small, round, fine netting covering the top of the pan will catch those nasty splashes before they reach you or your clothes.
On the whole, coconut oil stains are easy to remove. It takes time and a bit of patience. Like any fat-based stain, you may need to treat the area a couple of times. With a bit of determination, the stains should come out leaving you with a clean garment, carpet, and sofa.
Let me know in the comments if you liked the article and if you will be trying any of the tips on your coconut stains. Do you have any other hints? Have you tried any other methods for removing coconut oil? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear them!