I often use essential oils as a headache remedy, a homemade house cleaner, and a soothing scent in a diffuser. Once in a while, though, one of the scented oils splashes or spills on me. When this happens, I’ve learned how to get essential oils out of clothes using easy, natural solutions.
The best way to get essential oil out of clothes is to treat the stain immediately with dish soap or Murphy’s Oil Soap and hot water. Applying baking soda, baby powder, rubbing alcohol, or eucalyptus oil are also popular ways to remove oil stains from fabric. For set-in stains, scrubbing with an oil-removing soap will prove most successful.
In this article, you’ll discover six easy ways to remove oil stains from your clothes with household products. You’ll also find out what to do about unwanted essential oil scents. Finally, you’ll learn how to use essential oils safely in your laundry!
Do Essential Oils Stain Clothes?
Essential oils can create dark stains in clothing. Fortunately, you can employ several easy methods to remove these stains before they become permanent!
First, take a quick moment to understand what essential oils are and how you can use them.
Essential oils capture the essence of a plant’s scent and flavor. Distillation or cold-press techniques extract these scents from plant compounds. The most common essential oils are lavender, peppermint, ylang-ylang, jasmine, tea tree, lemon, rose, bergamot, and sandalwood.
You can find recipes to use these oils in all kinds of homecare or cleaning products, such as floor cleaners, laundry soaps, and even insect sprays!
By far, the most popular use of essential oils is for aromatherapy, though. You can mix oils for a diffuser or apply diluted versions directly to your skin. As a word of caution, please don’t ingest essential oils!
These days you can find essential oils for sale everywhere, from specialized handmade versions on Etsy to the candle aisle in your local Walmart!
You can easily try out the pleasing scents for yourself to see which ones you like. That said, any actual medical benefit to aromatherapy remains questionable at this time.
Will Essential Oils Ruin Clothes?
Generally speaking, essential oils will not ruin your clothes, especially if you remove the stain while it is still fresh. That said, easy removal depends on the kind of fabric your clothes are made of and the size of the stain.
Depending on the production method used to make essential oils, it may or may not leave a greasy stain on your clothing. But many oils will leave behind a brown or yellow coloring because of the plant compounds in oils. Some of these staining oils include jasmine, patchouli, and vetiver.
Some essential oils break down the bonds that hold plastics together over time. This means that these oils in undiluted form can also damage synthetic fabrics such as polyester. These oils may discolor or warp synthetic fabrics.
While you can fairly easily remove essential oils from natural fabrics such as cotton or linen, you probably can’t fix a discolored area on a synthetic fabric as easily.
How to Get Essential Oil Out of Clothes: 6 Methods
You can apply several common household products such as dish soap or rubbing alcohol to easily remove essential oils from your clothing.
The six methods described here also work on diffuser oils, which are usually just a diluted or mixed blend of essential oils. You can successfully remove oil stains or many kinds, including a hair oil stain, with any of these techniques!
While a natural stain remover typically costs less, you can also purchase many kinds of commercial stain remover in liquid, gel, or stick form that often work well, too.
Before you try a natural stain remover like the ones described here, you will need to do what you can to absorb any extra moisture in the stained area. This will prevent the stain from spreading and will make the cleaning methods easier.
Grab a paper towel or a clean rag if you have one handy. Carefully blot at the stain to remove excess oil. Take care not to rub it, as this will encourage the essential oil to spread out and make the stain bigger!
When you have blotted most of the moisture, you can place a paper towel on each side of the fabric and press them together lightly, sandwiching the stain between the two absorbent pieces of paper.
While you can wash your stained clothing in the washing machine with good grease-removing laundry soap and see if that does the trick, you do not want to put a stained item in the dryer. The heat will set the residual stain and it will become very difficult to remove.
Finally, read the care label inside your clothing before attempting any of these methods.
1. Dish SoapYou probably always have dish soap on hand in your home! This easy, cheap technique works well on fresh stains. You can also try this natural stain remover on an older stain because dish soap cuts through grease so well. However, it’s less likely to entirely remove a dried stain.
- First, try squirting a blob of the soap directly onto the stain. Use an old toothbrush, sponge, or rag to rub the soap in well.
- Rinse the affected area under warm water.
- If that didn’t work completely, mix a gallon of warm water with two tablespoons of soap. Let your clothing soak in this solution for 20 minutes.
- Apply the soap, scrub, and rinse again!
While this technique will likely entirely remove a fresh stain, you can also use this scrub as a pretreatment for really stubborn stains and then move on to another method, such as applying rubbing alcohol.
2. Murphy’s Oil SoapWhile you may associate old-fashioned Murphy's Oil Soap with polishing banisters or mopping wood floors, this reliable product does a great job removing any type of oil stains from clothing!
It does take a bit longer, but give it a try for almost certain good results.
- First, dampen your stained garment with a spray bottle, or just soak it and then wring it out.
- Apply a teaspoon of Murphy’s Soap directly on the affected area. Rub it in gently with your fingers, creating a pasty froth on the damp garment.
- Let the garment sit for an hour.
- Wash it as usual in your washing machine with a splash of Murphy’s Soap for good measure.
- Inspect the garment to make sure the stain is gone before placing it in your dryer!
3. Baking SodaBaking soda does a great job absorbing both oils and odors, making it a natural choice for treating an essential oil stain!
That said, baking soda may or may not entirely remove the stain. You may have to take additional steps after pretreating with the baking soda.
- Dampen the garment with a spray bottle of clean hot water.
- Mix a handful of baking soda with enough water to form a thick paste. You want it to look like gritty toothpaste.
- Spread this paste over the affected area. Don’t hesitate to rub it into the weave of the fabric. An old toothbrush does a great job for this!
- Let the paste sit for about an hour.
- Rinse away the paste in hot water, and check to see if any staining remains.
The baking soda method works best on a damp stain, as it extracts some of the excess oil from the cloth. That said, you can apply it to an older stain as well, especially for odor removal.
You can also use some types of gel stain remover in place of a baking soda paste, though baking soda probably costs less!
4. Baby PowderIf you have small children in your household, very likely, you also have a bottle of baby powder in your medicine cabinet or at the baby changing station! This pleasantly scented product does a great job absorbing many types of oils.
- Shake about a tablespoon of baby powder into a small dish or your cupped hand.
- Dab a cotton ball or soft sponge into the powder to coat it thoroughly
- Rub the cotton ball covered over the stain.
- Let it sit for five minutes. Then shake out the garment over your kitchen sink or bathtub.
- Check to see if any staining remains!
5. Eucalyptus OilIt seems counterproductive to apply an oil to remove an oil stain, but it does work! Eucalyptus oil contains something called cineole or eucalyptol. It has many health and flavoring applications, but it also works as a degreasing agent. As a bonus, it also has antibacterial properties!
You should test a tiny drop of this product on an inconspicuous area of your garment before trying this method, just to be safe.
- Drip five to ten drops of eucalyptus oil directly onto the affected area (you want enough to spread out and cover the entire area).
- Let it sit for fifteen minutes.
- Rinse the garment, and check to see if any staining remains!
- Alternatively, or for a larger stain, fill a bucket with hot water and one to two capfuls of eucalyptus oil.
- Allow the garment to soak for an hour in this solution.
As you will see later on in this article, you can also use eucalyptus oil in your laundry!
6. Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol acts as a solvent to dissolve oils. This makes it a cheap and effective way to get essential oil stains out of clothes!
You will also need a regular bar soap such as Ivory for this method.
- Make sure you remove any excess moisture first, so the alcohol does not have to break down as much grease.
- Soak a clean cloth or sponge in rubbing alcohol and blot it on the stain till the affected area is soaked through.
- Allow this to sit for 5 minutes.
- Rub bar soap gently across the damp area until it becomes nice and soapy.
- Finally, rinse the garment in hot water!
How to Get Essential Oil Odor Out of Clothes
The most effective way to eliminate any lingering essential oil odor from your clothes is to apply the baking soda method before washing the garments, add activated charcoal to the detergent in your laundry machine, or mix distilled vinegar into the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
Simply washing with regular detergent probably will not successfully get rid of oil-based odors.
Applying a baking soda paste to a stain before washing your clothes gives the soda a chance to absorb the smell. You can then easily rinse away the paste and wash the garment in the laundry machine.
You can also add a teaspoon of activated charcoal with the soap in your laundry machine. This also acts to remove odors.
However, by far the easiest and possibly the best technique for removing perfume or scented oil smells from your clothes is to add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
Just stop the machine as it gets to the rinse. Add the vinegar, then let it soak for an hour before finishing the wash!
Vinegar does a great job removing odors in many circumstances. You can boil it as a quick way to clear the air in your house, as well!
How to Remove Old Oil Stains From Clothes
It is much easier to remove a fresh oil stain than an old stain, but you may still get good results using Murphy’s Oil Soap, baking soda and vinegar, or oxygen bleach.
Like any kind of stain, the longer it sits, the worse it gets. Plus, if you accidentally wash your clothes and put them in the dryer, the leftover stain may seem to become permanent!
If you have already washed and dried your damaged garment, you might need to put in a little extra work to get rid of the remaining stains. It’s not impossible, though!
The easiest thing you can try is to wash your clothes as usual but add oxygen bleach to the load. You will not want to use chlorine bleach! Also, check the care label to make sure it’s safe to use bleach on your clothes.
Another easy way you can handle old stains is to pour a little Murphy’s Soap directly onto the stain, scrub it in well, and let it sit for several hours. Then wash as usual!
A good way to get rid of very old stains in your garment is to mix a paste of baking soda and water and let that sit on the stain for a full 24 hours. Then use a spray bottle to soak the area with vinegar.
Finally, apply a bit of laundry detergent with a brush and scrub well!
Essential Oils in the Laundry
It might seem silly after focusing on getting oil stains out of clothes, but essential oils can prove quite useful in the laundry!
You can add a pleasant scent to an all-natural detergent by mixing in a few drops of essential oils. Scents like lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus all make a nice addition to your laundry! Eucalyptus also helps alleviate any grease stains and smells.
For a useful, cheap fabric softener, mix twenty drops of oil with one gallon of vinegar.
To make your own dryer sheet, just sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on a plain white handkerchief or cotton washcloth. As a note of caution, though, avoid dripping essential oils straight from the bottle into the dryer, as this could catch fire!
Best Essential Oil Stain Remover for Clothes
As you read earlier, you can also buy various useful stain removers to get essential oils out of clothes. Check out these products to get an idea of what’s available!
The Laundress – Essential Oils RemoverNo products found.This No products found. made of plant-based ingredients clears away grease and makeup stains. You can safely apply it to most fabrics, including many dry-clean-only items. You can also safely use it on upholstery or in place of a real wash while traveling!
Though you will want this affordable bar mostly for its ability to eliminate stains, it also comes with a delightful laundry scent of jasmine, sandalwood, lily of the valley, and citrus. Lastly, you can purchase it in a small 2 oz size, perfect for slipping into a suitcase in case of any spills or accidents on the road!
Puracy Natural Laundry Stain RemoverThis handy laundry stain remover spray bottle lets you spray away all kinds of stains, including many types of oils! You can safely employ it on most clothing, furniture, carpeting, and car seats! With no bleach or strong chemicals in it, this product will not damage or discolor fabrics.
Besides removing tough stains, Puracy eliminates tough odors, too! This product uses six different kinds of plant enzymes to powerful effect. As an added benefit, this spray is all-natural, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly.
How to Get Oil Out of Fabric Couch
The two simplest ways to get oil out of your fabric couch are to apply either baking soda or a detergent and water solution.
First, blot away as much of the spill as you can with a paper towel or clean rag.
To use baking soda, simply sprinkle it over the stain and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Vacuum up all of the chalky white mess, and check to see if the stain remains!
To use a dish or laundry detergent, mix just a drop or two in a cup of water. Then use a clean cloth to dab the soap solution onto the affected area.
You can also use special dry cleaning solutions to get stains out of a fabric couch, but these cost more and are harder to find than a natural product like baking soda!
Though essential oils can bring soothing, lovely scents into many areas of your home, they can also stain your clothes! To get these stubborn stains out, you can apply several natural remedies such as dish soap, baking soda, and rubbing alcohol. You can also use a professional substance like Murphy’s Oil Soap or an application of eucalyptus oil.
When dealing with lingering smells, white vinegar does the trick!
Have you tried any of the six methods described in this article? If so, did it work? Leave a comment below to let us know!