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How To Get Grease Stains Out of Clothes: Your Go-to Guide

How to get grease stains out of clothes

As you may have already guessed, I look at stains on clothing as a challenge. Getting a mustard stain or tomato stain out of a shirt is something I’ve come to enjoy. However, removing grease stains still scares me.

The grease stain is just so hard to disguise. If you don’t remove grease stains, they really do ruin the look of the clothing. After experimenting with different methods and fabrics, I’ve finally figured out how to get grease stains out of clothes.

If you’re struggling with a stubborn grease stain on your clothing, you’ve come to the right place.

Before You Begin: Important Tips 

Before you take your laundry stain remover spray and drench your clothing, please read these important tips about removing grease stains. 

  • Not all fabrics are created equal; the type of fabric that has absorbed your grease stain is going to change the method of stain removal
  • The quicker you react to grease stains, the easier they are to remove
  • If the grease fell on your clothing as a large piece (like a drop of mayo), you can use a spoon or dull knife to remove as much of it as possible without wiping it further into the fabric 
  • Always blot a grease stain; no rubbing! 
  • Using the hottest water around is not a great idea, in addition, any additional elbow grease used to scrub grease and oil stains may just push the stains further into the fabric 

I also put together a table to save you some time if you just want the key tips for the fabric you’re working with. Don’t forget to also check the care label and use the appropriate water temperature for washing or rinsing.

FabricsKey Supplies Key Steps
Cotton and PolyesterDawn Dish Soap, Laundry detergent, Cornstarch, Baking soda (for old stains)Blot with cloth, apply Dawn Dish Soap, rinse, wash, air dry. Detailed steps
Canvas, Linen, Nylon, Spandex & LycraPersil Pro Clean Liquid Laundry DetergentApply detergent as pretreatment, wash, air dry. Detailed steps
Chenille, Corduroy & VelvetBaby powder, Soft toothbrush, VacuumApply baby powder, brush off, vacuum, wash, air dry. Detailed steps
LeatherBaking soda, Leather conditionerBlot with towel, apply baking soda, let sit overnight, brush off. Use conditioner if leather feels dry. Detailed steps
SilkCornstarch, Liquid dish detergentBlot with cloth, apply cornstarch, brush off, apply dish detergent, blot and air dry. Detailed steps
SuedeTalcum powder, Distilled white vinegarBlot with towel, apply talcum powder, let sit, blot with vinegar, air dry. Detailed steps
WoolTalcum powder, Liquid dish soapApply talcum powder, brush off, apply dish soap, rinse. Detailed steps

Removing Grease Stains From Cotton and Polyester

Cotton and polyester grease stains are the most common that you will encounter. To remove these oil stains and grease stains from cotton and polyester, you will need the following.

Supplies and Tools

How To Remove Grease Stains From Cotton and Polyester

When removing a standard grease or oil stain from clothing, cotton and polyester can be treated the same way with this laundry detergent and cornstarch method. 

The first step in the process requires you to blot excess grease with a clean cloth to absorb excess oil. Then, you will take Dawn dish soap and apply it directly to the stain; the dish soap helps to separate and lift the grease using both its hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. Let the soap sit for about 10 minutes, rinse with cool water, and then place the clothing in the washing machine on a cold wash cycle with liquid laundry detergent. Allow the garment to air dry; if the stain is still there, sprinkle it with cornstarch, allow it to sit for 10 minutes, and then put it through the washing machine again. 

Can You Get Grease Stains Out of Clothes After They’ve Been Washed?

Once your clothing has been washed and dried, you can still get grease stains out, but the process is usually more involved. It may take several rounds of using a powdered detergent, cornstarch, or absorbent baking soda to remove the stain. Once you find the grease stain, do not put the garment in the dryer again until the stain is completely removed.

Alternative Methods for Removing Grease Stains

I know your most pressing question is, does grease permanently stain clothes? Grease can permanently stain clothes, but it’s much more common with set-in grease stains than fresh ones. If you can treat a grease stain quickly, your chance of recovering your clothing is much higher. 

Here are alternative methods for removing grease stains from various fabrics and materials. 

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Canvas, Linen, Nylon, Spandex & Lycra

When working with cotton and polyester stains, you want to mostly stick with liquid dish soap and cool water. When it comes to canvas, linen, nylon, spandex, and lycra you may need to do a little more work in the pre-treatment phase. 

  1. Remove any excess grease from the stained area of clothing by blotting, using a spoon or a dull knife 
  2. Apply Persil Pro Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent directly to the stain as a pretreatment, and allow the detergent to sit on the stain for approximately 15 minutes
  3. If the clothing is machine washable, avoid hot water, but warm water or cold wash will do the trick; set on a gentle cycle 
  4. Remove the clothing from the washing machine, and check to see if the stain remains; if it does not, you can put it in the dryer 
  5. If the stain is still there, start the process over from the beginning, this time allowing the detergent to sit on the stain for 30 minutes before putting it in the washing machine 

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Chenille, Corduroy & Velvet

Chenille, corduroy, and velvet are all premium materials that can be easily damaged if not treated properly during the stain removal process. In addition, these fabrics can be sensitive to color and pile changes. Lastly, you have to be well aware of water marks and wet spots, so using the baby powder method tends to be one of the safest options. 

  1. Sprinkle baby powder (or corn starch) directly on the stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Let the grease cling to the powder and be absorbed 
  2. Take a soft toothbrush and gently brush the baby powder off of the stain
  3. Take a vacuum with the attachment for upholstery and carefully remove all of the powder from the stained area; don’t put the vacuum on full power
  4. You can then wash the chenille, corduroy, or velvet fabric according to the instructions on the care label
  5. Leave the clothing flat to air dry and repeat the process with additional baby powder if necessary 

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Leather

Leather needs a specific stain pretreatment that does not require a liquid detergent or dish soap. The leather material is easily damaged when liquids are involved. Instead, use the absorbent power of baking soda to lift and remove oil stains and grease stains from your leather clothing. 

  1. Blot the leather with an absorbent paper towel or clean rag to remove any excess grease 
  2. Sprinkle baking soda directly on the area where the stain has set 
  3. Let the leather garment sit overnight so the baking soda can absorb all the grease 
  4. Brush the baking soda off of the leather; if the stain persists, start from the beginning 
  5. If leather feels dry or brittle after the stain treatment process, use a leather conditioner like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Silk

Silk is a natural protein fiber that is both porous and delicate. This combination is not great when a big heap of bacon grease lands on your silk skirt. I’ve had the best luck with cornstarch on silk fabric with grease stains. 

  1. Take a soft cloth and blot the stained area, continually checking to see if you are pulling up grease on each blot; continue this until you are not removing any more grease 
  2. Apply a thin layer of cornstarch onto the silk fabric to allow it to soak up any additional grease; the cornstarch should sit for 15-20 minutes 
  3. Remove the cornstarch without rubbing the stain; a soft old toothbrush is usually a good solution to get it off 
  4. Now dampen a wet cloth and put just a little liquid dish detergent on it 
  5. Blot the stained area and then blot dry with a clean cloth 
  6. Allow the area to line dry or air dry, and then check to see if the stain is still in place; if it is, start at the first step and allow the cornstarch to sit a little longer on the stain 

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Suede

One of the things we love about suede is how soft it can be. However, this softer fabric is also quite porous in nature, making it difficult to get grease stains fully out. The best method here uses a little talcum powder and vinegar. 

  1. Use a white paper towel to blot the grease stain and soak up as much excess grease as possible 
  2. Pour talcum powder on the stain directly and let it sit for 30 minutes 
  3. Use a dry cloth and dip just the corner of it in distilled white vinegar 
  4. Blot the stain with vinegar, then allow the suede to dry fully 
  5. If the stain is out, you can brush the suede to get its natural pattern back; if the stain still persists, try adding talcum powder again 

How To Get Grease Stains Out of Wool

The structure of the wool fibers allows grease to adhere to it and become very difficult to remove. If you want to get grease stains out of wool, stay away from warm or hot water and stick with this talcum powder and dish soap method. 

  1. Sprinkle talcum powder on the grease stain on your wool clothing
  2. Let the talcum powder sit for about 15-20 minutes 
  3. Use a soft toothbrush to brush away the talcum powder 
  4. Pour a few drops of liquid dish soap directly on the stain and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes 
  5. Rinse the soap out with cold water and wash the wool garment according to the care label 

How To Remove Old Grease Stains

If you have an old grease stain on your clothing, you may wonder, can you get oil or grease stains out of clothes? Old grease stains take a bit more work than standard grease stains, and there are times when it is too late for the stain to come out. The key to removing old stains is to stay patient and alternate the methods you use.

Cotton and Polyester

When treating old grease stains on cotton and polyester, focus on breaking down the stains and absorbing the grease, repeating the process until they come out.

  1. Use dish soap and place it directly on the stain; allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes
  2. Rinse the dish soap with cold water 
  3. Add baking soda to the garment and let it sit overnight 
  4. Brush off the baking soda, treat with dish soap again, rinse the dish soap
  5. Place the garment through the washing machine only and check to see if the grease stain is still there. Do not put the clothing in the dryer 
  6. Repeat the entire process about three times and see if the grease stain starts to loosen and break down. Be patient with this process; it does take time, but it will work 

Other Fabrics

One of the most common methods for removing old grease stains from other fabrics is using vinegar. If your original method did not include vinegar, make sure it is a safe cleaning solution to use on the fabric and incorporate vinegar into the process along with an absorbent cornstarch, baking soda, or talcum powder. Again, the key is to mix something that breaks down the stain with something that absorbs it.


Britt Olizarowicz