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How To Get Grease Out Of Clothing

Have you ever found a mysterious greasy stain on your shirt at the end of the day? Maybe you grilled out and hamburger grease splashed your shirt, or maybe you were working on the car and some engine oil smudged you. Either way, you need to know how to get grease out of clothing if you want to rescue your shirt!

The best way to get grease out of clothing is to treat fresh stains with an absorbent powder like cornstarch or baking soda to soak up the oils. Other effective treatments include applying dish soap to break down the oils or using salt and soap to prevent the stain from setting. WD-40 can also break down the enzymes in some oil stains and remove them from clothing.

In this article, you will learn what makes grease stains difficult to remove. You will discover five easy methods for getting oil and grease out of your clothing. Finally, you will find tips for handling difficult stains like hamburger grease stains or black grease stains.
How To Get Grease Out Of Clothing

Does Grease Come Out of Clothes?

Grease does come out of clothes with a little elbow grease and the right treatment. Simply throwing an oil-stained shirt in the washing machine probably won’t do the trick, though.

Grease and oil stains tend to linger in clothes because of the fat lipids inside this particular type of stain. The lipids can’t dissolve in water, so normal clothes-washing will not touch the stains!

Oil stains present multiple challenges. Fresh oil stains will turn solid and fatty at cold temperatures. This means that you have to use hot water to turn the oil back into liquid to treat it.

On top of this, it’s especially tough to get grease out of synthetic fabric. Man-made material like polyester is essentially plastic, and oil molecules really cling to the fibers of this fabric.

What Gets Grease Out of Clothes?

You can get grease out of clothes by using several common household products such as baking soda, dish soap, or WD40. The key is that you need a product that can interact with the lipids in the oily stain.

Dry, powdery substances such as baking soda, chalk, baby powder, or cornstarch can quickly soak up a fresh grease stain. With most of the oil removed from the clothing by the powder, you simply need soap to wash away any lingering oil residue.

Many kinds of soap work well on grease too. Dish soap is designed specifically to counter tough cooking grease, as you know, if you have ever had to wash a frying pan after cooking bacon!

How does dish soap work? The molecules in dish soap contain different kinds of atoms. On one end, the molecule has a hydrophobic atom that does not interact with water. This end will stick to the grease.

On the other end, a hydrophilic atom does dissolve easily in water and will attach to the water molecules. When the soap hits the grease, the soap molecules go to work. The non-water side of the molecules clings to the oil, and the water-loving side of the molecule dissolves in the water.

This means that the soap molecules can break off tiny bits of grease or oil and suspend them with the soap in water. Once the grease breaks apart, you can easily rinse or scrub it away!

How To Get Grease Out Of Clothing: 7 Methods

You can get grease stains out of clothing using seven simple methods: vinegar and baking soda or white chalk on a fresh stain.

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

VinegarVinegar and baking soda often cost less than a dollar each at your local supermarket, but these miracle products can clean many stains around your house, including grease stains in clothing!

This stain-lifting combo works so well because vinegar contains acetic acid. When the acid touches the baking soda, it causes the powder to break apart and release carbon dioxide gas. The gas can carry stain particles with it, even in the case of old or set-in stains!

  1. First, use a clean paper towel to blot the stain. This will absorb any oil that you can easily remove before starting the treatment.
  2. Next, arrange your stained garment over a sink or basin and pour the vinegar through the stained fabric, thoroughly soaking it.
  3. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda and two tablespoons of vinegar in a disposable cup. This will fizz up as you stir it together.
  4. Use the spoon or your fingers to apply the paste liberally to the stain. This mixture is safe to touch if you’re in a hurry and want to scoop it up and apply it with your fingers!
  5. Use gentle, circular motions to rub the paste into the stain.
  6. Let this sit for fifteen minutes, and then rinse away the paste.
  7. If you can still see the dark oil stain, add an additional soak as a final step: fill a bucket with warm water. Measure in two to three tablespoons each of baking soda and vinegar. Soak the garment overnight in this solution.

2. WD-40

WD 40It may seem counterintuitive to use a lubricant to remove grease, but in some cases, WD-40 works really well on oil stains! That said, you may want to save this method for really stubborn old oil stains or for treating grease stains in polyester. You run the risk of creating a new stain on more delicate fabrics when using WD-40.

The theory behind this method is that the “water displacement” properties of WD-40 will wake up the old oil stain, making its molecules act like a fresh oil stain, which you can more easily remove with dish soap or straight laundry detergent.

  1. Arrange the stained section of your garment on top of a pad of paper towels or a piece of cardboard.
  2. Spray WD-40 directly onto the stain. Let this sit for half an hour.
  3. Run hot water from the tap straight through the stained area, rinsing away the WD-40.
  4. Next, squirt either a dollop of dish soap or about a teaspoon of laundry detergent straight onto the stain. Rub the soap in thoroughly with your fingers till you see suds appear.
  5. Let the soap sit for half an hour.
  6. Place the garment by itself in your washing machine. You don’t want the oil to stain other clothes!
  7. Add a normal amount of laundry detergent and use hot water if the fabric in your stained garment can handle it. You can find this out on the care label inside the garment.
  8. Check to make sure the stain is gone before putting the garment in your dryer!

3. Dish Soap

Mrs. Meyer's Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Cruelty Free Formula, Radish Scent, 16 Oz BottleDish soap is one of the most effective ways to get grease stains out of clothes. Soap works on grease in clothes the same way it does on dirt, oil, or any other kind of particle on dishes, your skin, or fabric!

A lot of science goes into designing dish soap, and different brands may contain slightly different ingredients. However, all soap works in basically the same way–it forms bonds with both the invading particles and the water surrounding it. It carries away tiny molecules of the stain to become suspended in the water.

Once the soap has broken up or lifted away pieces of the stain, you can easily rinse the garment clean.

  1. Rinse the garment in warm water.
  2. Then place a piece of cardboard or an old dishtowel behind the stained section of your clothing. This will keep the oil from spreading onto the rest of the garment!
  3. Squirt a good drop or two of dish soap onto the stain.
  4. For sturdy fabric such as denim or cotton knit, use an old toothbrush to work the soap into the stain. For more delicate kinds of material, you can use your fingers to gently rub the soap in.
  5. Let this sit for fifteen minutes.
  6. Put the stained clothing in your washing machine by itself and run it through on hot water if possible.
  7. Make sure the stain is gone before placing the clothing in the dryer!

4. Salt

Salt can easily dehydrate many types of stains, making it easier to get the matter out of your clothes. Salt can handle grease stains and other kinds of tough stains like blood, too!

You can also use baby powder or cornstarch in place of salt. These dry, absorbent powders will soak up excess grease and make it easier for your washing machine to handle the rest of the stain.

This method works super well if you notice a grease stain right away. If you’re eating out, for example, and you spill part of a hamburger onto your jeans, try blotting the wet grease with a napkin, and then apply some table salt to quickly soak up as much of the oil as you can!

  1. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt onto the stain and let it sit for ten minutes.
  2. Shake the salt into your garbage bin.
  3. Gently brush away any lingering flakes of salt. You do not want to leave any salt in the fabric, which could damage the garment.
  4. Wash the stained garment as you usually would in your laundry machine. As usual, add laundry detergent, but do not put any other clothes in with the stained garment.

5. Hairspray

One of the best ways to handle old, set-in grease stains is to treat them with hairspray. This popular beauty product often contains a large percentage of alcohol and can lift and remove many kinds of oil stains.

  1. For this method, start by putting an old towel or a piece of cardboard behind the stain.
  2. Place a paper towel over the top of the stain.
  3. Spray hairspray very thoroughly onto the paper towel. You want it to feel soaked through!
  4. Let the dampened paper towel sit for half an hour.
  5. Wash the garment as usual in the washing machine, but hang it up to air dry instead of placing it in the dryer.

6. Chalk

One of the cheapest ways to treat an oil stain is to rub a piece of chalk onto it! The powder chalk will absorb the oil, making it easy to brush it away.

  1. Simply rub a piece of white chalk onto the stain. You will want to say a good coating of white powder on top of the stain.
  2. Let the chalk powder sit for fifteen minutes.
  3. Shake away as much of the chalk as you can, and then gently brush any remaining power away.
  4. Finally, launder your garment as you normally would, but do not put it in your dryer. Instead, air dry it and examine it to make sure you got out the whole stain!

7. Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo works on grease stains just like it works on the grease built up in your hair! This aerosolized powder quickly absorbs oils on your scalp and can also soak up oil from stained clothing.

  1. Spray dry shampoo onto the stain and allow it to rest for two to three hours.
  2. Gently remove the powder. It might stick to the fabric, so you may have to use a spoon or brush to scrape it away.
  3. Rinse the stained area and apply a couple of small drops of dish soap.
  4. Work the soap into the fabric using your fingers.
  5. Finally, put the stained garment by itself in your washing machine. Use the normal settings and your usual amount of detergent for a load of laundry.
  6. Air-dry the garment and then inspect it closely once dry to see if the stain is gone!

How to Remove Old Grease Stains From Clothes

One of the best ways to treat old grease stains in clothes is to use baking soda and dish soap. You can use several methods to efficiently remove old grease stains from clothes, including the hairspray or WD-40 methods described earlier in this article.

The trouble with old grease stains is that they have had time to worm their way deep into the fibers of the fabric. Also, in many cases, you may not have noticed the stain, and the clothing may have gone through your dryer. The high heat will have set the stain in and made it really tricky to remove!

For this reason, using a two-pronged approach is one of the most effective ways to treat these stubborn stains.

  1. Squirt a generous amount of dish soap onto the stain, enough to cover the whole area.
  2. Let this sit for ten minutes.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the soap into the fabric.
  4. Next, sprinkle about a tablespoon of baking soda over the soap suds. For a large stain, you may need more baking soda–you want enough to cover the whole area.
  5. Use your toothbrush once again to work the baking soda into the sudsy fabric.
  6. Let this sit for fifteen minutes.
  7. Finally, put the soapy garment in your washing machine and wash it as you usually would.
  8. Hang it up to air dry and check if the old stain has disappeared!

How to Get Rid of Grease Stains on Clothes After Washing

You can get rid of grease stains on clothes after washing by using the hairspray method or the baking soda and vinegar method. For some kinds of fabric like polyester, you may want to try the WD-40 method instead.

Oil stains don’t always show up right away. Sometimes you find a dark stain on your clothing weeks after wearing it, and you don’t even know what you spilled to stain the clothes!

If you didn’t catch one of these elusive stains and put your clothes in the washing machine, all is not lost. You can still treat the stain after washing! The thing to remember is that the water and diluted soap in your washing machine probably won’t be enough to handle these tough stains.

Instead, you need to apply a product that can disrupt the molecular shape of the oil, lifting it away from the fabric and allowing the soap and water to rinse away the grease particles.

Can You Remove a Grease Stain After Drying?

You can sometimes remove a grease stain after drying, but it does get a lot harder at this point. In general, the intense heat and friction in a dryer cause stains to set into the fibers of the fabric and become almost permanent.

That said, you can try using several methods on grease stains that have gone through the dryer. If you can find a hairspray that contains a high percentage of alcohol, try that method first! It is often very effective and it should not damage your clothing.

Next, for synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, try the WD-40 method. This is a riskier technique because the lubricant can create its own stain in some cases. However, it also sometimes works on stains when nothing else will!

Finally, try using the baking soda and dish soap two-pronged attack described in the previous section.

How to Remove Black Grease From Clothes

You can get black grease out of your clothes using any of the methods in this article, especially the dish soap method on fresh stains or the WD-40 method for old stains. Black grease or car grease look messy and ugly on your clothes, but the same product works to get out pretty much all oily stains!

As a pro tip, the absolute best way to treat car grease is to apply a post-treatment as soon as you see the stain. If you’re working in your garage, blot the stain with a paper towel. Then apply some powdery chalk, baking soda, or cornstarch as quickly as you can to absorb the wet oil.

Finally, treat with the method of your choice, such as the dish soap method or the baking soda and vinegar method, before putting the greasy garment in your washing machine!

How to Get Hamburger Grease Out of Clothes

You can get hamburger grease out of clothes using dish soap or undiluted laundry detergent.

Hamburger grease is an unpleasant stain because you don’t want to walk around smelling like an old burger even after you wash your clothes! The good news is that you can treat this stain, especially if you notice it right away.

  1. Blot up as much of the wet stain as you can. You don’t want to scrub at a fresh stain, as this will spread it around! Instead, dab with a clean napkin or paper towel to absorb some of the moisture.
  2. Next, apply about a half teaspoon of dish soap or undiluted laundry detergent directly to the stain. Use your finger to work the soap in until it gets a little sudsy or frothy.
  3. Let the soap sit for ten minutes.
  4. Wash the stained garment by itself in your washing machine. You should use your normal detergent. If the manufacturer’s label says it is safe, you can also consider adding a commercial stain remover to the wash.
  5. Air-dry the garment and check to see if the hamburger grease remains!

What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Grease Stains

The best way to get rid of grease stains is to use the dish soap method. Dish soap is carefully designed to break up grease and remove it from many kinds of surfaces. That said, even dish soap may not work on synthetic fabric; you may need to try the hairspray or WD-40 methods for a grease stain on polyester!

For fresh grease stains, pretreating with a powdery, absorbent substance will make the stain removal process much easier. Simply sprinkle salt, cornstarch, baby powder, or dry shampoo onto the stain and let it sit for ten minutes. A stick of white chalk will do the trick, too!

For tough old stains that have gone through the washer or dryer, you may need to resort to the dish soap and baking soda two-pronged approach. This method takes some elbow grease and scrubbing, but it works even on set-in grease!

What caused the worst oil stain you have ever tried to get out of your clothes? How did you treat the stain? Leave a comment below to let us know!