Jeans getting rinsed in the built-in water faucet.

How To Get Oil Stains Out Of Clothes

Do you have stubborn oil stains that you don't know how to remove? It’s important to know what your stain is composed of before starting the wash process. Oil-based stains behave differently than other types of stains like coffee or grass and can include:

  • Cooking oils like olive, vegetable or canola oil
  • Condiments like salad dressing and mayonnaise
  • Cosmetics like liquid makeup and moisturizers
  • Oils from your skin that can build up on your shirt collar

It’s important to act fast so the stain doesn’t spread or set in further. Always check your garment’s care label for any specific requirements before starting to treat the stain, then count on these quick steps below to help you tackle oil stains in cotton, synthetics, wool and delicates.

Rinsing clothes in the built-in water faucet

How To Remove New Oil Stains

Step 1: Remove Excess Oil

Blot the stain gently with a paper towel to remove as much oil as possible. Scrape off any excess oil with a dull or smooth butter knife or spoon if necessary.

STEP 2: PRETREAT

Cotton & Synthetics: Gently rub liquid dish soap (if choosing to hand wash), stain pretreatment or liquid enzyme detergent into the stain and let sit for 10 minutes. If using liquid dish soap, be sure to fully remove the soap by rinsing the garment thoroughly before placing the item in the washer.

Wool, Knits & Delicates: Mix a mild detergent in the warmest water temperature recommended on the garment’s care tag, then add the garment to the water and gently massage the soapy solution through it. Soak for 5-10 minutes.

STEP 3: WASH

Machine wash the garment, or rinse if handwashing, in the warmest water temperature recommended on the garment’s care tag.

STEP 4: LINE DRY

Never machine dry anything that has ever had any type of oil on it as no washer can completely remove oil and could result in a fire. Heat can set stains that aren’t completely removed, so line dry the item.

Shirts soaking in the washer

How To Remove Set-In Oil Stains

Step 1: Pretreat

Blot the stain with a paper towel. Rub liquid dish soap (if choosing to hand wash) into the stain, covering it and let it sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to fully remove the soap by rinsing the garment thoroughly before placing it in the washer.

Step 2: Soak

Soak the garment in warm or hot water for at least 30 minutes. Check your garment’s care tag for specific fabric requirements. Dissolve store-bought stain fighter or detergent in the water if desired.

Step 3: Wash

Machine wash the garment, or rinse if handwashing, in the warmest water temperature recommended on the care tag.

Step 4: Line Dry

Never machine dry anything that has ever had any type of oil on it, as no washer can completely remove oil and could result in a fire. Heat can set stains that aren’t completely removed, so line dry the item.

Maytag tip icon

Maytag Tip: Always use hot water on oil-stained whites

Body oil buildup can cause whites to darken over time. Hot water does the best job of melting away oily stains from whites. Learn more about which water temperatures to use for which stains and always check the care tag before tackling any stains.

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