Beat the Grease: Removing Grease Stains from Clothing

"Grease" written in a greasy frying pan.

Nothing is more frustrating than discovering a grease stain on your favorite blouse or your son's best blazer. Grease stains come in all shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources. Whether your stain is from cooking oil or automotive grease, there are several ways to successfully remove it and have your clothing looking as good as new.

Treat as Soon as Possible

The best advice when dealing with grease stains is to treat them as soon as possible. Most treatments can work on set-in stains as well as fresh ones, but the sooner you tackle the stain, the easier it will be to remove it.

Use hot Water

Use the hottest water possible when washing out a grease stain. This gives the detergent the boost it needs to remove the grease. Check each time after washing to make sure the stain is completely removed before drying the garment. A stain that has gone through the dryer will be much more difficult to remove.

Remove Excess Grease or Oil

If you are dealing with thick automotive grease, the excess grease should be scraped from the stain with a knife before you treat it. Many people have found that absorbing as much oil from the stain as possible before treating it helps the stain removal process go more smoothly. This can be done using an absorbent powder. Cornstarch, baby powder, and baking soda are some of the best products to use for this purpose. Simply apply the powder to the stain, working it in very slightly if necessary. Let it sit for a few hours or even overnight, and then brush it off. This method is especially useful when dealing with more delicate fabrics that may not be able to handle harsher treatments.

Pre-Treat with any Kind of Liquid or Powdered Soap

After absorbing as much of the grease as possible, you may need to move on to other treatments to completely remove the stain. A variety of products can be used for this. If you are someone who consistently has to deal with grease stains, you should stock up on solutions that are formulated to deal with tough grease stains on laundry. Otherwise, buying specific products isn't always necessary. Most people find that applying plain old dish soap to the stain will do a fine job of removing it. Just work a little soap into the stain, being careful not to spread the grease. Let the garment sit for at least a few minutes, and then launder as normal. Liquid laundry detergent, dish washing detergent, and even shampoo can also be used in this way. You can also make a thick paste out of powder laundry detergent and water to pre-treat the stain.

Try Harsher Methods if all Else Fails

Hair spray and WD-40 have also been used to combat grease stains, but these methods are harsher and may not be suitable for all fabrics. Testing these products on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment will let you know if they are safe to use. After treating a stain with one of these chemicals, follow it up with a pre-treatment of detergent or soap and then launder as normal. Ammonia is also good for grease stains. If you have a whole load of greasy laundry, adding up to a cup of ammonia to the wash can help remove all of the stains.