Butter stains seem to save themselves for the nicest attire. It’s always your favorite dress shirt or the new dress that you wore out to eat that gets subject to a drop of oily butter. It took me a little while to learn how to get butter stains out of clothes. I tried a few methods but they still left an oily circle on the clothing. Now that I’ve found the perfect stain remover solution for butter, learn from me and save yourself time. 

The Nature of Butter Stains

If you want to remove butter stains with the least amount of effort (and steps), you have to act quickly. Butter stains need to be pretreated before they are tossed in the washing machine. 

Getting butter out of clothes is difficult because of the oily, greasy nature of the stains. Oil based stains have a translucent look to them, so on darker colors, you may even miss the stain on its way into the washing machine. 

Cotton and linen fabrics are the most susceptible to butter stains; their fabrics allow the butter to sink in and truly absorb into the garment. With all butter stains, remember that your first step is going to be to blot or scrape excess butter away; never rub it! 

Does Butter Permanently Stain Clothes?

If a butter stain is left untreated and makes its way through the washer and dryer, there is a chance it could stain permanently. However, if you follow the proper steps to remove butter stains, it should come out. 

How to Get Butter Stains Out of Most Clothes 

If you get butter, especially melted butter, on your cotton, polyester, nylon, or linen clothing, this method works well. Keep in mind that with butter being such a grease stain, your ultimate goal is to ensure you don’t spread the stain further during the removal process. 

  1. Blot the excess butter with a dry cloth or paper towel as soon as the stain happens. Be sure not to spread or rub the melted or solid butter into the fabric
  2. Pre-treat the butter stain by sprinkling baking soda directly on the stain and then spraying it with Dawn dishwashing spray or using a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid
  3. Let the stain remover sit on the stain for forty minutes
  4. Do a warm water wash with temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit 
  5. Check for the effectiveness of the stain removal method at the end of the wash cycle; repeat step 2 if the stain is still present
  6. When the stain is fully removed, place the clothing in the dryer

How To Get Butter Stains Out of Delicate Fabrics

If your butter stain happens on a silk, cashmere, satin, or knit garment, you have to be a little more careful with how to treat these grease stains and not damage the clothing. 

  1. Find a dry cloth or paper towel and blot the butter stain to remove any excess butter. You can also use a dull knife to remove any larger chunks of butter
  2. Pretreat the stain with a mixture of baking soda and a liquid laundry detergent. Create a paste with the baking soda and a few drops of detergent
  3. Let the paste sit on the fabric overnight
  4. Hand wash the clothing by hand, or follow recommended washing instructions in the washing machine; however, avoid hot water when possible (warn is ideal)
  5. Check to see if the baking soda and liquid laundry detergent worked to absorb oil. If they did, continue with the drying
  6. If stains are still present, use more liquid detergent and baking soda directly on the stain. Repeat until the butter stain is removed

Additional Methods To Try

Since I’ve discovered my favorite methods for getting butter out of clothes, I haven’t needed too many alternatives. I’ve gone back and forth between powdered laundry detergent, liquid laundry detergent, talcum powder, and baking soda, but the combinations always work. 

If, for some reason, your butter stain is a bit stubborn, here are some other methods to try. 

Dish Soap Method

Dishwashing soap does a great job of breaking down that oily texture you find after a butter stain. Putting a few drops directly on the stain and then using a wet cloth to rub it into the affected area is a good pre-treatment before sending it through the washing machine. 

Baking Soda Method

The baking soda and dish soap method is my favorite, but if you want to just use baking soda and water, you can. Make a paste and brush it on the butter stain with an old toothbrush. Rinse the stained area and repeat if necessary before sending it through the washing machine.  

Stain Release Soak Method

Take your butter-stained clothing item and put it in a bowl of warm water mixed with Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid. Let this sit overnight, and then put it through the washing machine the next day. 

WD-40 Method

In the cleaning industry, WD-40 is one of those unique tools good for spot treatment of oil and grease-type stains. When working with delicate clothing, stay away from WD-40. Use this as a pre-treatment before a wash, spray a little on the butter stain, and then let it sit for half an hour before going through a wash cycle. 

Hairspray Method

Hairspray typically has alcohol in it, making it a good choice for removing oil based stains. Spray hairspray directly on the butter, and let it sit for about ten to twenty minutes. Start to blot the stains with a wet cleaning cloth. Continue until most of the butter is removed, and then wash with warm water. 

Ammonia Method

Ammonia is a strong cleaner and stain remover, so you have to be careful with it. Put a tablespoon of ammonia in a cup and mix it with one full cup of water. Use a sponge or dish towel to blot the butter stain until it starts to lighten. 

Shampoo Method

Shampoo gets oil out of your hair, so why can’t it work on butter? It can! Use a shampoo with very little (or no) dye so that you don’t risk transferring color to your clothing. Simply squirt a little shampoo on the area of the stains, rub it in with your fingers or an old toothbrush, and then wash in a warm wash. 

Lighter Fluid Method (With Caution!)

The lighter fluid method has worked really well for some people. However, you must test a portion of the clothing to ensure it does not leave residue, and you have to be careful where and how you use lighter fluid. If it were up to me, I would skip this method and try one of my others. 

If you decide to use the lighter fluid method, you just put a few drops of lighter fluid on the stain. Rinse with warm water before laundering, and check to ensure the butter stain is completely removed before putting it in the dryer. 

Tips for Effective Butter Stain Removal

The first time I tried to remove a butter stain, I just put the clothing in the wash with the hottest water. I ended up spreading the stain, and it took me two to three times longer to finally remove it. Here are the insights I wish I had during my initial encounter with butter stain removal:

  • Use warm water to wash or even soak fabric that has a butter stain. If the water is too cold, it may not break down the oils; if it’s too hot, it could spread them or even damage some fabrics
  • Don’t put clothing that just went through a pre-treatment and stain removal process into the dryer. Let the clothing air dry and repeat the method if necessary
  • Commercial products like Tide to Go placed directly onto the stain can be an effective pretreatment procedure

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Butter Stains Be Removed From All Types of Fabric?

Yes, it is possible to eliminate butter stains from any fabric type. However, removing such stains can be particularly challenging for cotton and delicate materials. For stubborn stains that resist treatment, professional cleaning services may be required.

What Should I Do if the Butter Stain Has Dried?

Even with dried butter stains, a solution exists. You can make a paste of baking soda and dish soap, apply it to the stain and let it rest for a few hours before washing. Repeating this process may be necessary, but ultimately, the stain should lift. 

Can I Use the Same Methods for Other Types of Oil-Based Stains?

Yes, the same methods can be employed for other oil-based stains. Such stains typically react positively to a pre-treatment and subsequent washing cycle. The use of a pre-treatment can effectively absorb excess oil or grease, preventing further spreading.


Britt Olizarowicz