How To Remove Old Oil Stains From Clothes? (7 Home Remedies)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Old oil stains are visually unappealing, but they are also a major headache. They can work wonders to ruin some of your favorite clothes, unless you use one of several easy home remedies. However, many people struggle with how to remove old oil stains from clothes.

Home remedies such as baking soda, white vinegar, and dish soap can remove old oil stains from clothes. You can also remove old oil stains with chalk, warm water, and strong laundry detergent. In extreme cases, you can soak the old oil stain in your clothes with WD-40 or bleach, but don’t let them sit too long to avoid fabric damage.

There is no reason to give up if the old oil stains in your clothes are stubborn and won’t break up. Act fast anytime that oil splashes onto your clothes and use warm water so that stains don’t form. Follow along as we explore how to remove old oil stains from clothes with home remedies.

Oil Stains On Clothes After Washing

It is frustrating when you remove your clothes from the washer or dryer and still find oil stains. However, you can never guarantee that washing your clothes will remove oil stains, and it’s not always enough. Some homeowners even notice that the oil stains grow darker after washing their clothes.

Detergent and water aren’t always enough to remove old oil stains from clothes. Oil sets and dries quickly, and that’s when it becomes much more difficult to remove. However, you will have great results when washing your clothes if you use the hot water setting. This will at least help weaken the stain so that you can use one of many home remedies to remove it entirely from your clothes.

Are Oil Stains Permanent On Clothes?

Oil stains on clothes are sometimes permanent. This is especially true if you let the oil soak, spread, and dry before washing your clothes. It’s much harder to remove oil stains from clothes once the oil dries in many cases.

Ideally, you should try to act fast and remove oil stains as quickly as possible. Never wash oil-stained clothes with a load of your other laundry or else you may stain the rest of it. Clean clothes that get splattered with oil right away so that the oil doesn’t dry and the stain doesn’t set.

How Do You Get Tough Oil Stains Out of Clothes?

Home remedies ranging from baking soda and chalk to bleach and white vinegar can remove old oil stains from clothes. You can often remove old oil stains from clothes without having to leave your house to buy special products. Let’s take a look at the best home remedies to remove old oil stains.

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a classic household remedy that you can use to remove old oil stains from clothes. The absorbent nature of baking soda makes it easy to soak up oil in fabric. You won’t likely need to use more than ½ cup of baking soda unless the oil stain is tough.

Splash a drop or two of warm water into the baking soda to get a perfect consistency. Brush the baking soda paste onto the old oil stain and spread it evenly. Set a timer for 50-60 minutes and remove the baking soda from the stain with a rag or dry towel. Wash the shirt and hang it to dry.

You can use baking soda alone or in combination with white vinegar. Brush the baking soda off the old oil stain and add a splash of watered-down white vinegar if the stain is still stubborn. Otherwise, baking soda alone is often enough to remove old oil stains from clothes.

2. Dish Soap

Mild dish soap is a popular home remedy that works to remove many types of stains, and that includes oil. You don’t need to use more than a dollop in most cases, and you likely already have dish soap in a cabinet. Look for dish soap that has an oil base because that will make it easier to remove the stain.

Pour the dish soap onto the oil stain and massage it into the fabric with a dry rag. Spread it around into the fabric around the stain so that it can soak. Don’t let the dish soap sit on the stain for too long because the acidity may damage the fabric.

Soak a rag in warm water and lightly scrub the oil stain after 2-3 minutes. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to if the stain remains. Otherwise, you can run the shirt back through your washer if the old oil stain is weakened.

3. Warm Water

The combination of warm water and a strong detergent can help remove old oil stains from clothes. Use your washer’s hottest setting for the best results. However, you must consider that you risk fading or shrinking your shirt when you use hot water.

Brands such as Tide and Persil offer detergent that is specifically meant for removing stains. Simply put your stained shirt in the washing machine, add detergent, and run a hot water load. Otherwise, you can manually apply the warm water and detergent.

Pour a drop or two of detergent onto the oil stain. Dampen a rag with warm water and scrub the oil stain. Use as much pressure as possible to help break up the oil stain without damaging the fabric. Hang the shirt to dry so that you don’t shrink it or run it through the dryer on low heat.

4. Chalk

Chalk is a cheap and easy way to remove old oil stains from clothes. White chalk is ideal because you won’t have to worry about a strong pigment tainting the fabric. Simply rub the chalk into the old oil stain until it is coated.

You can wet the stain with warm water before you apply the chalk so that it can absorb into the oil as well. Let the chalk sit on the stain for up to 10 minutes, then brush it off with a damp washcloth. Run the shirt through your washer using hot water.

Chalk can also effectively remove fresh oil stains. In many cases, chalk works best when the oil stain is fresh because the chalk can absorb it quickly. Never use any color besides white or your clothes will have another stain that you will need to remove.

5. White Vinegar

White vinegar is like baking soda and dish soap in that it’s seemingly a cure-all when it comes to stains. It doesn’t work in every extreme case, but white vinegar can typically remove old and tough oil stains on clothes. White vinegar is quite acidic, however, so it’s important to limit how long you let it soak into the stain.

Ideally, you should mix water with white vinegar so that you don’t damage or lighten the fabric. Fill a container halfway with white vinegar and halfway with water. Either soak a rag with the solution or spray it onto the old oil stain and let it sit.

Wait 30 to 60 minutes, then scrub the stain with warm water. You can use white vinegar on its own to remove old oil stains from clothes, but it’s best used with other remedies. Many homeowners apply white vinegar after treating the stain with baking soda to get the best results.

6. WD-40

It may sound crazy, but WD-40 is a great way to remove old oil stains from clothes, especially if nothing else works. WD-40 is strong enough to break down oil, and many homeowners have a can of it somewhere around the house. Timing is the most important thing to consider because you don’t want to let it sit in your clothes for too long.

You risk staining your clothes if the WD-40 sits too long even if it removes the oil stain. Never let WD-40 sit in fabric for longer than 4-5 minutes. That is more than enough time for the chemicals in this product to break down the oil stain.

Scrub the area with a warm rag to remove the WD-40 from the fabric. Put your shirt in your washer without any other clothes and run it with warm water.

7. Bleach

Much like WD-40, bleach is an extreme yet effective way to remove old oil stains from clothes. You need to exercise caution if you use bleach because it is quite corrosive. Ideally, you should wear gloves any time that you handle bleach.

Not all fabric can withstand bleach exposure, however, so it’s important to check beforehand. Refer to the tag on your clothes to see if it’s appropriate to use bleach. Chlorine bleach is typically better than oxygen bleach when you have a tough stain.

Mix equal parts bleach and water to help tame the corrosive nature of the bleach. Put on gloves, soak a rag in the solution, and carefully scrub it into the oil stain. Otherwise, you can mix the solution in a spray bottle so that you don’t have to directly handle it. Let the solution sit for 5-15 minutes, then scrub it with warm water and dish soap.

Do Oil Stains Eventually Come Out of Clothes?

It is unlikely that oil stains will eventually come out of your clothes if you don’t do something to treat them. However, oil stains may fade over time if you regularly wash your clothes with warm water and strong detergent. It isn’t necessarily ideal to frequently wash clothes with water that is too hot, as you can fade the dye and shrink the fabric.

Your oil stain is unlikely to fade or break down if you wash your clothes in cool water or with mild detergent. That is why it’s ideal to wash the stained clothes separately and to use home remedies like bleach, baking soda, and white vinegar.

Vegetable oil in particular can eventually come out of clothes if you treat the stain quickly. Heavy oils used in electronics or automotive work are more likely to permanently stain your clothes.

Will Baking Soda And Vinegar Ruin Clothes?

Baking soda and vinegar won’t ruin clothes, but you should be careful when you use them to remove oil stains. You are unlikely to damage clothes with baking soda, but vinegar can be harmful in some cases. Vinegar is acidic, so you always have the potential to discolor the fabric in your clothes if you let it set for too long.

However, both baking soda and vinegar make it easy to remove old oil stains from clothes, so it’s worth a shot. Don’t let vinegar soak into your clothes for over an hour, or you are more likely to cause damage. The only way that baking soda can ruin clothes is if you don’t properly scrape it off after it absorbs the oil. Always wash the fabric with warm water and dish soap or white vinegar after you clean your clothes with baking soda.

Summing It Up

Baking soda, mild dish soap, and even warm water can help remove old oil stains from clothes. Even home remedies such as chalk can absorb and break down oil stains. Scrub the oil stain with a piece of white chalk to cover it, then brush it off to help remove the stain.

In extreme cases, you can use bleach and WD-40 to remove old oil stains from clothes. However, you need to be careful if you use bleach or WD-40 because they can both damage fabric. White vinegar is among the best home remedies that you can use because of its high acidity.

Brush baking soda onto the stain, let it sit, remove the baking soda, and add white vinegar for the best results. Old oil stains aren’t necessarily permanent, but they can be in some extreme cases. That is why it’s important to clean your clothes right away if they get splashed with oil so that no stains form.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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