Key Takeaways:

  • Pre-Treat Stains: Before washing, use baking soda, dish soap, or vinegar to pre-treat grease stains. These household items effectively break down the grease, making it easier to remove during the washing process. Apply them directly to the stain and let them sit for a few minutes before laundering as usual.
  • Use the Right Products: Employ commercial stain removers and degreasers for tough stains. These products are specifically formulated to tackle stubborn grease and oil stains, penetrating deep into the fabric to lift and remove even the most persistent marks. Follow the product instructions for the best results.
  • Prevent Future Stains: Wear protective clothing and act quickly to minimize the risk of permanent stains. Aprons, old shirts, or dedicated work clothes can shield your regular wardrobe from accidental spills.


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Grease stains are among the most challenging types of stains to remove from clothing. Whether it's from cooking oil splatters in the kitchen, automotive grease from working on your car, or accidental spills, these stains can be stubborn and persistent. However, with the right techniques and products, you can effectively tackle grease stains and restore your garments to their original condition.

In this piece, we'll discuss various methods for removing grease stains from clothes, including effective pre-treatment techniques, the use of household items and commercial products, and tips for preventing future stains. Discover how to keep your garments spotless with these expert strategies.


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Understanding Different Types Of Grease Stains

Grease stains can come from various sources, each requiring a slightly different approach for effective removal. Here are some common types of grease stains you might encounter:

  • Cooking Oils: Oils from frying or sautéing can easily splash onto clothing, leaving behind slick, dark stains. These stains can be particularly stubborn if not treated quickly, as the oil penetrates deep into fabric fibers.
  • Butter and Margarine: These dairy-based fats often leave noticeable, greasy marks that can be difficult to remove with standard washing. The fatty content in butter and margarine can create a persistent stain if not pre-treated effectively.
  • Automotive Grease: Typically found on clothes after working on vehicles, automotive grease is thick and heavily pigmented. This type of grease can be especially challenging to remove due to its composition and the dirt it often contains.
  • Lotions and Creams: These personal care products can leave oily residues on fabrics, especially if they contain heavy oils or petroleum-based ingredients. The oil from lotions and creams can spread and create larger stains if not addressed promptly.
  • Food Grease: Grease from meats, pizzas, and other fatty foods can easily drip or splatter onto clothes, creating unsightly stains. These stains often combine both oil and food particles, requiring thorough treatment to fully remove.

Each type of grease has unique properties, but they all share the characteristic of being difficult to remove with standard washing methods. Knowing the source of the grease can help you choose the best treatment method to tackle the stain effectively.

Pre-Treatment Methods For Grease Stains

Before washing, it’s crucial to pre-treat grease stains to enhance the chances of successful removal. Here are some effective pre-treatment methods:

Blot The Stain

Use a paper towel or cloth to gently blot away excess grease, being careful not to spread it further. Blotting helps to lift the top layer of grease from the fabric, reducing the stain's intensity. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can push the grease deeper into the fibers and make it more difficult to remove.

Apply Baking Soda Or Cornstarch

Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch generously over the grease stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb the grease. These powders work by drawing the grease out of the fabric and into the particles, making it easier to brush away. After the waiting period, gently brush off the powder and proceed with further treatment.

Use Dish Soap

Dish soap is designed to cut through kitchen grease, making it a powerful tool for treating grease stains on fabric. Apply a small amount directly to the stain and gently rub it in with your fingers or a soft brush. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to allow the soap to break down the grease before washing the garment.

Vinegar Solution

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply the solution to the grease stain. The acidity of the vinegar helps to break down the grease and lift it from the fabric. Allow the solution to soak into the stain for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water to remove the vinegar and any loosened grease.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

Apply a few drops of liquid laundry detergent directly to the grease stain and gently rub it in with your fingers. The enzymes in the detergent help to break down the grease molecules, making them easier to wash away. Let the detergent sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes before laundering the garment as usual.

Using Household Items To Remove Grease

Household items can be surprisingly effective at removing grease stains. Here are some commonly used methods:

Baking Soda

After blotting the stain, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the affected area and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The baking soda works by absorbing the grease from the fabric, lifting it away from the fibers. Afterward, gently brush off the powder, and wash the garment as usual. This method is particularly effective for fresh stains that haven’t had time to set.


Similar to baking soda, cornstarch can be used to absorb grease from fabrics. Apply a liberal amount of cornstarch to the stain and allow it to sit for at least 10-15 minutes. The cornstarch will draw the grease out of the fabric, making it easier to brush away. Once the powder is brushed off, proceed with laundering the garment to remove any remaining residue.

Dish Soap

Known for its ability to cut through kitchen grease, dish soap is also highly effective for treating grease stains on fabric. Apply the dish soap directly to the stain, gently rub it in with your fingers or a soft brush, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The soap's grease-fighting properties help to break down the stain, making it easier to wash out. Follow up with a regular wash cycle to completely remove the stain.

White Vinegar

Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply the solution to the grease stain. The acidity of the vinegar helps to break down the grease, making it easier to rinse away. Let the solution sit on the stain for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water. After rinsing, launder the garment as usual to ensure all traces of grease and vinegar are removed.

Aloe Vera Gel

Apply a generous amount of aloe vera gel to the grease stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Aloe vera has natural cleansing properties that can help to break down grease. After the gel has had time to work, rinse the fabric with cool water. This method is gentle and safe for most fabrics, making it a good option for delicate clothing items.

Tips For Stubborn Grease Stains

Sometimes, grease stains can be particularly stubborn and require extra effort to remove. Here are some tips for dealing with tough grease stains:

Repeat Treatments

If the stain doesn’t come out after the first attempt, don’t be afraid to repeat the pre-treatment and washing process. Stubborn grease stains often require multiple treatments to completely break down the grease. Persistence is key, and with each treatment, the stain should become progressively lighter until it’s fully removed.

Avoid Heat

Heat can set grease stains, making them much harder to remove permanently. Always use cold or warm water when treating grease stains, as hot water can cause the grease to bond more firmly to the fabric fibers. Avoid using the dryer until you are certain the stain is completely gone to prevent setting it permanently.

Use A Stain Stick

Keep a stain stick handy for immediate treatment of fresh grease stains. These portable sticks can be applied directly to the stain as soon as it occurs, helping to prevent the grease from setting. Quick action with a stain stick can significantly improve the chances of complete removal when the garment is washed.

Soak In Warm Water

For deeply ingrained stains, soak the garment in warm water with a few drops of dish soap or laundry detergent for a few hours before washing. The soaking process helps to loosen the grease, allowing the detergent to penetrate and break it down more effectively. This method is particularly useful for older or more stubborn stains that have settled into the fabric.

Consult A Professional

If home treatments fail, consider taking the garment to a professional cleaner. Professional cleaners have specialized tools and chemicals that can tackle tough stains more effectively than standard home remedies. They can assess the fabric and stain type to apply the most suitable and powerful treatment, ensuring the best chance of restoring your garment to its original condition.

Preventing Grease Stains In The Future

Preventing grease stains can save you time and effort in the long run. Here are some strategies to help keep your clothes grease-free:

Wear An Apron

When cooking or working with greasy substances, always wear an apron to protect your clothing. Aprons act as a barrier between your clothes and potential grease splatters, keeping your garments clean. Choose a heavy-duty apron for better protection, especially if you frequently work with high-splash items like frying oil.

Be Cautious With Food

When eating greasy foods, use napkins or paper towels to shield your clothes and minimize contact with grease. Cut food into smaller pieces to reduce the chance of splattering grease on yourself. Eating over a plate and using utensils properly can also help contain the grease and prevent it from reaching your clothing.

Use Protective Clothing

When working with machinery or automotive parts, wear old clothes or coveralls that you don’t mind getting dirty. These protective garments are designed to take on the brunt of any grease or grime, sparing your regular clothes from stains. Opt for dark-colored or heavy-duty fabrics that are better at hiding and withstanding grease.

Act Quickly

The faster you address a grease stain, the easier it is to remove. Keep a stain remover pen or stick handy for immediate treatment. Quick action can prevent the grease from setting into the fabric, making the stain easier to clean during the next wash.

Use Placemats

Place a napkin or paper towel under your plate to catch any drips or spills that could land on your lap. This simple precaution can help protect your clothes from unexpected grease stains, especially when dining on particularly greasy foods. Placemats and tablecloths can also serve as additional barriers to safeguard your clothing during meals.


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Final Thoughts

Grease stains are a common but manageable problem if you know the right techniques. By understanding the types of grease stains and using effective pre-treatment methods, household items, and commercial products, you can successfully remove even the most stubborn stains. Additionally, by following preventative measures, you can protect your clothes from future grease stains. With these tips and tricks, you can keep your wardrobe looking fresh and stain-free.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Grease Out Of Clothes

How can I remove old grease stains from clothes?

Apply a paste of baking soda and water to the stain, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash as usual. For stubborn stains, consider using a commercial degreaser.

Can dish soap remove grease stains?

Yes, dish soap is effective at cutting through grease. Apply it directly to the stain, rub gently, and wash the garment.

What household items can remove grease stains?

Baking soda, cornstarch, white vinegar, and dish soap are all effective household items for removing grease stains.

Is hot water effective for removing grease stains?

No, hot water can set grease stains. It’s best to use cold or warm water for treating grease stains.

How do I prevent grease stains while cooking?

Wear an apron and use splatter guards to prevent grease from getting on your clothes.

Can commercial stain removers handle grease stains?

Yes, products like Shout, OxiClean, and Goo Gone are formulated to tackle grease stains effectively.

Should I dry my clothes if the grease stain is still visible?

No, avoid using the dryer until the stain is completely removed, as heat can set the stain.

How does baking soda help in removing grease stains?

Baking soda absorbs grease and helps lift it from the fabric, making it easier to wash out.

Can I use vinegar on all types of fabrics?

While vinegar is safe for most fabrics, it’s always best to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.

What’s the best way to remove automotive grease from clothes?

Pre-treat the stain with a commercial degreaser or heavy-duty laundry detergent, then wash in warm water.

Chad McElligott