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Jul 30, 2011 07:19 AM

Removing Oil Stains From Fabric - Any foolproof methods?

The best I've found so far is to rub Palmolive dish soap into fresh oil stains. This doesn't always work though.

What do you do?

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    1. re: catrn

      I've never tried Dawn catrn, thanks.

      1. re: catrn

        I agree. I always use Dawn dish soap. Get's out grease stains from my t-shirts. You know, when you drip salad dressing on yourself! Just squirt on some Dawn and let it set. I even let it set overnight and it gets the grease stain out.

          1. re: jamieeats

            I can't believe how well this works and can't thank catrn enough for this amazing tip!!

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              I really dislike Dawn, the smell stays on the dishes/glasses. So, I don't want to run out and buy some; do you think this would work with my Ajax dishwashing liquid?

              1. re: walker

                Dawn is supposed to be particularly good for breaking up oil. They have more than one fragrance, though.

                1. re: walker

                  I agree w Ruth, in the past I'd tried Palmolive (my usual brand),Sunlight and neither worked as thoroughly and consistently as the Dawn does. I keep it in my laundry room as it doesn't get used for dishes.

                  1. re: walker

                    Any dishwashing liquid will work, unless it is one of those awful bottles they sell at the dollar store which is watered down to nothing. I have had great success no matter the brand.

                    1. re: Steve

                      If it says grease cutting it should be fine. We have Wegmans brand and it works well.

              2. re: Jpan99

                With all these raves about Dawn, I went out and bought a bottle to keep in my laundry room. I'll try it on the next greasy stain I encounter.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  I was raised to believe name brand stuff was a waste of money, my mom always bought generic but my husband's business comes with a lot of greasy, oily (industrial) messes and I learned over the years that Dawn truly does a better job on oil and grease.

                  I don't know what makes it different but some of our suppliers specify that Dawn is not to be used when checking for air leaks in lines so there must be something in the formula.

                  I keep a spray bottle filled 50/50 with Dawn and water in the laundry room to use on food/oil stains.

                  Another product I like is OxyBoost. It is the effective ingredient in OxyClean, just without the fillers. I have a little kid and I have yet to encounter a stain that a long term soak in OxyBoost can get out.

              3. re: catrn

                about 3 weeks ago I decided to revisit Dawn detergent.
                face it, it's pricier than other detergents. < how much better could it be?
                haven't noticed a difference in dish washing but hubby got pot roast gravy on his favorite tee shirt last night with first bite of dinner. < dork. anyway I came in here to see the answers and I'll see how well it does on removing stain from his tee. I'll report back.

                1. re: iL Divo

                  well guess what? stain completely gone.
                  I saturated every place on the tee shirt the gravy got on.
                  rubbed it with finger nail to make sure it went all the way into the fabric.
                  did inside out with the Dawn too just in case.
                  washed in washer, took outside to dry.
                  it's all gone, I'm thrilled, thanks.

                  we were always big fans of LOC by Amway but they don't make it anymore ...
                  wahhhhhhhhh :(

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    They don't?? Amway is dead to me, in that case. I put up with the aggressive sales staff JUST for LOC. No more.

                2. re: catrn

                  catrn, here it is, almost 2 years since my OP and I still think of you each and every time I pull my Dawn out of the laundry cabinet. Dawn has never, ever failed me. The toughest, oldest stains come out in one wash. I share your tip with others on a regular basis. You've save me a lot of clothing over the years and I'm back to thank-you again for such valuable advice.

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    I've used it for decades because it's so high in surfactants that grease doesn't stand a chance.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Is it too OT to mention that for the same reason it's excellent for drying out occasional skin outbreaks.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Very interesting Joan. Good to know.

                      2. re: mcf

                        I had to Google surfactants mcf (hanging head in shame) but having read the info, this makes total sense. It's nice to find such an effective product and even better that it's so inexpensive.

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs


                          And don't forget that Healthy Harvest surfactants are great for flushing turkey fryer oil out of your car's windshield washer solution reservoir!

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Told the tale in this thread once before. But thanks. ;-)


                      3. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Since this post, I've been keeping a bottle of Dawn in my laundry room cabinet. It works great!

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Hey Breadcrumbs, et al- I have a t-shirt that I love but it has some horrendous stains, not grease, I think it was a rogue chapstick that sneaked into the dryer. Dawn doesn't touch it, tried it half a dozen times with varying soak times. Do you have any fixes for old grease/wax stains?

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            I'm not Breadcrumbs, but I've had luck with a line of products (in the US) called "Carbona." It's a 1.5 oz bottle, yellow, and it comes in different formulations--I had luck getting out lip balm stains with the "ink & crayon" version. Good luck. (P.S. In my store, it's in the laundry aisle, with the Shout and other stuff.)

                            1. re: EWSflash

                              try stretching taut the material (reverse side up) over something that will catch/drain hot water, and pour boiling water with about 15% vinegar from a height of a few inches.

                              that should help with the waxy part.

                          2. re: catrn

                            Many years ago, we were having drainage put in our backyard and the trench was being sealed with tar before being filled with rocks. Our cat got out and decided he could leap over that trench. He could not and we ended up with a tar covered cat. We managed to get him inside and as I am chasing a tar covered cat in an increasingly tar covered house (we found paw prints for months) I'm yelling to my husband "Call the vet Call The Vet CALL THE VET!!!!!

                            He did and the vets advice? Dawn dish detergent. Do not try any other brand, just Dawn.

                            It didn't completely do it so we had to go to his Plan B (which did work). But very interesting stuff - I never thought to use it for oil on clothing. I'm off to buy a bottle!

                            1. re: happybaker

                              If it's good enough to wash crude oil from penguins, it's certainly good enough to wash tar from a cat.

                              1. re: mpjmph

                                Doesn't remove chapstick from t-shirts, though, unless I'm missing a technique

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Chapstick is a petroleum product rather than a vegetable oil or animal fat, so it might require something different to remove it.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    carbona might work. That was my mother's weapon of choice for a lot of stains.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      Great minds...didn't see your post, and I just posted about Carbona. Good stuff. I keep several of their formulations on hand.

                            2. re: catrn

                              I purchased a shirt from someone online with an oil stain I washed it and it never came out.. would using dawn still work or is the stain set for good?

                              1. re: loveliverayray

                                If you scroll to the bottom of this thread, you'll see a post by parent recommending talcum powder. I've had great success with Dawn in the past, but I just recently tried the talcum powder on a grease stain that had been through the washer and dryer at least twice. I rubbed the powder in and let it sit a few days until I got around to doing the laundry. Took it right out. I was very impressed. Certainly worth a try.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Funny you say that Joan. I had an oil stain while in China. I didn't have my Dawn w me but I did have baby powder. I was VERY impressed...worked like a charm!

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    I also have had good results with Dawn but recently tried the talcum powder and was very impressed with how well it worked.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Much of the "talcum powder" today is "pure cornstarch". Must it be true talcum, or is cornstarch equally good?

                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        Don't know the answer to that. I used Johnson's Baby Powder. Must have been something I picked up at the hospital since it's labelled "Hospital Package; Not for Resale." It does say, though, on the back, ""Soft, pure, silky powder, made from finest talc," and "Active ingredient: Talc." No idea whether that's true of all Johnson's Baby Powder or just that packaged for hospitals.

                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          This came up in this thread (further down) a couple of years ago. Johnson's baby powder is talc, not cornstarch:

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Ah. Hadn't seen (or perhaps just hadn't remembered) your earlier post. Interesting that the J&J link says one of the ingredients is "fragrance" and the container I have does not. Perhaps they make one without added scent for hospitals? Anyway, good to know. I suspect that from now on I'll be traveling with a small container of Johnson's Baby Powder.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              Interesting. I am currently holding in my hands a container of Johnson & "Johnson's Baby Powder" and it is labeled "Pure Cornstarch"! They obviously make 2 versions of baby powder.

                                        2. re: JoanN

                                          While not clothing, I splashed olive oil on my (unsealed) tumbled stone backsplash just 1 week after it was installed. Tried everything to absorb it, and I ended up with success using just straight cornstarch. Took a couple of tries (vertical tile won't hold the product!), but worked great in the long run. Certainly sealed those tiles afterwards.

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            Porous Plus, cannot do without it!

                                        3. re: loveliverayray

                                          I have a friend who swears by Lestoil for oil/grease stains that are already set-in. Have not tried it myself. I assume you work it into the stain full-strength, and let it sit, then rinse it out with warm water.

                                      2. Arm & Hammer baking soda. Rub it into the stain and it will absorb the oil, flick off the excess, then brush with a slightly damp or dry towel. Depending on the fabric, often you can even wear it right away. Stubborn ones may need a washing afterwards, with a little Shout stain treatment.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: purple bot

                                          I'll have to try this the next time we have a concentrated stain. Unfortunately most are splatters or spays of oil/butter. Good idea, and I always have A&H on hand. Thank-you!

                                          1. re: purple bot

                                            If it's an old stain, wet it first?

                                          2. Shout with Resolve seems to work really well...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                              This is the method I would use. I used to use Spray and Wash, but that product has been discontinued. In my experience Dawn is overrated. It doesn't budge greasy residue on my kitchen cabinets for instance. And there was that article by Cons. Rep. recently that indicated that all liquid dish detergents were pretty much equal.

                                              It helps to soak the stain before washing in the Shout/Resolve, or other laundry stain remover.

                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                ina & sueatmo thanks. Not sure if the formulation is different here in Canada but I haven't had consistent results with the Shout w Resolve here.

                                            2. Yep. Never knew about this until about a year ago - thought oil stains can't be removed. Cue any dish detergent. Works like a charm.

                                              Now.... soy sauce stains -- there's a tricky one.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                I had a nice new white shirt on in a sushi restaurant one evening, and managed to splash a good amount of soy sauce on my sleeve. There goes 80 bucks, said I. The head chef saw it and in the best Japanese tradition got that stern look and said "crub soDAH!" Someone brought a bottle of club soda, which he suggested I pour on the stain. I did, it disappeared like magic, still use it on soy sauce to this day.

                                                1. re: Sasqatch

                                                  Interesting! I thought soy stains are the end. Good to know.

                                                  1. re: Sasqatch

                                                    In her stand up days, Ellen Degeneres had an entire routine on flight attendants and club soda. It was a riot. Nice to know flight attendants and sushi chefs have something in common!

                                                    1. re: Sasqatch

                                                      i hear club soda is good for red wine stains, too, but haven't had to try that yet.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        I've used it, with success, on a fresh red wine stain on white carpet. (When neighbors saw our moving truck getting stuff into the house, they "knew" we didn't have kids when they saw the white couch and white carpet.)

                                                  2. Oxi Clean powder in the little tabs or the Oxi Clean in a spray bottle. I swear by it to clean my husband's greasy work clothes. And we're talking motor oil, hydraulic oil and gear grease.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: vafarmwife

                                                      That's interesting vafarmwife, I've used Oxi Clean on wine stains but never oil and grease. Thanks for the idea.

                                                      1. re: vafarmwife

                                                        OxiClean has a relatively new product that is a gel formulation. I find this to be much more effective than the spray bottle for spot treating clothes prior to washing.

                                                        For things like work clothes, I would think that pre-soaking would be best?

                                                        1. re: vafarmwife

                                                          I am using the spray and it has been the best stain remover so far although oil can be stubborn. Better than shout and zout.