How to Remove Grease Stains from Fabric

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What You'll Need
Grease lifting dish washing liquid
Pine Sol or Formula 401
Scrub brush
Baking or washing soda
Upholstery cleaning kit

If you are trying to remove grease stains from fabric, the method and cleaner used will depend upon a few factors. Be sure to determine your specific situation before proceeding.

Step 1 - Determine Fabric Type

You need to know your fabric type before you try to remove grease. It will also be helpful to know what type of grease it is, either from food and cooking or machine grease. Read the label on the garment to determine fabric content. There will be water temperature information on most labels. When trying to remove grease, the hotter the water the better the results. You need to be careful, though, to not use water that is too hot or it can damage or shrink the fabric. If the fabric says "dry clean only," then take the garment to a reputable cleaner and tell them what type of grease it is. It is best to not try to remove grease from this type of fabric at home.

Step 2 - Remove the Grease

If your fabric is washable such as 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, removing the grease, especially cooking grease, should be relatively easy to do. Squirt a bit of dishwashing liquid, Pine Sol, or 401 onto the grease area and let it sit overnight. Do this only if the garment is colorfast and you have tested it in an inconspicuous place. After it has set, use the scrub brush to work the liquid into the fabric and greasy area then immediately wash in the hottest water allowed by the manufacturer. Remove the garment from the washer and check to see if the grease has been lifted. If not, repeat the process.

If you don't want to use those products, you can try using a paste of baking soda or washing soda and water scrubbed into the grease stain. It may take several applications for this method to remove the grease.

Do not put the garment or fabric into the dryer until you are positive all of the grease has been removed as the heat from the dryer may set the grease stain and you won't be able to remove it after drying.

Machine Grease

Machine grease is a very stubborn stain and in many cases cannot be completely removed. The best cleaner for this type of grease is Pine Sol, Formula 401, or any pine tar based soap. Wet the area and rub a substantial amount of the cleaner into the grease. Allow it to sit for at least 24 hours then wash it in the hottest water allowed. Check to see if the grease is removed before you put the item in the dryer, or the heat can set the remaining stain.

Grease on Upholstery

Grease on upholstery is problematic since many upholstery fabrics don't have care labels. You need to assume the fabric is not color fast and proceed accordingly. Apply a bit of dishwashing liquid on a wet sponge and rub the area. Use a dry towel to clean away the soap and as much liquid as possible. Continue this until the grease stain is removed.

DIY home dry cleaning kits are also available for upholstery grease removal.