Grease stains might not be as easily noticeable as some of the brighter or condiment-based stains, but they're still a huge problem. They can make the wearer look sloppy, they can be hard to find at first and they can happen easily. Just a tiny splash or a few stray droplets of grease when cooking is all that's needed to make a stain — and when you're eating, you might not notice a bit of cooking oil or grease getting on your shirt. And even the smallest splatters can ruin an otherwise perfectly good shirt if you don’t know how to remove them.
No matter the case, if you have a stain, you want to act on it. In fact, the longer you wait, the worse it gets.
To that end, here are five DIY methods you can use to get grease stains out of your clothes using cleaning products you already have around the house:
1. Using Baking Soda to Eliminate Grease Stains
Baking soda is one of the most useful and versatile cleaning agents out there, whether by itself or combined with something else. And because it’s so absorbent, it could be the perfect solution for getting grease out of clothes. Let's start with the basics and try this if it is a simple grease spot that you don't think will require much effort to remove:
- After removing what grease you can using a paper towel or cloth, put some baking soda on the affected area. In this case, it’s better to use too much rather than not enough. Put on more than you think you might need (you can do no harm) and make sure it covers the entire stained area. Contact is vital.
- Wait for the baking soda to work properly. We recommend giving the pre-treatment process 24 hours if you can, but you need to wait at least a few hours. Just leave the item alone in the meanwhile as the baking soda soaks up the grease.
- Check for progress. If the stain has gone away by now, that's great! If not, then use a mixture of white vinegar and warm water on the stain as well. After applying, give it a few minutes and then use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub at the stain gently. If using an old toothbrush, make sure it’s completely clean before scrubbing the garment. You don’t want to add another stain!
- Repeat as needed or until you decide another method is required. If the stain comes out using this method, throw the garment in your washing machine and launder using cold water and your regular laundry detergent. Let air dry.
2. Using Baking Soda and Dish Soap as a Stain Remover
Sometimes, baking soda isn't enough, especially with those tougher or deeper grease stains. However, you don't need to despair if you’re dealing with a stubborn stain. You just need something stronger. In this case, that's a combination of baking soda and dish soap. Liquid dish detergent, especially Dawn dish soap, works well for dealing with these tough stains because it’s made to cut through grease. Here's how to use liquid dish soap and baking soda for stain removal:
- After removing what you can using a paper towel or cloth, lay out the clothing on a flat surface (with the stain centered, if possible).
- Apply a few drops of dish soap (the exact amount depends on the size of the stain) and rub it in using a toothbrush or your fingers. Be gentle, depending on the fabric you're cleaning.
- Add baking soda and brush it into the stain. Again, be gentle if possible, and be sure to mix evenly over the stain. When you’re finished, you should have a thick paste covering the entire stain. If it’s too thick, squirt on a bit more dish soap or add a bit of warm water. If it’s too thin, add more baking soda.
- Wait at least an hour for the mixture to work properly.
- Rinse the affected area, using either hot water or cold water, depending on the fabric you are cleaning.
- Check if the stain is gone.
- If it is gone, wash the article of clothing normally and air dry it. If it is not gone, then repeat all the above steps. Once the stain appears to be fully gone, throw the garment in your washing machine and launder as usual.
3. Using Chalk (Instead of Baking Soda) to Get Grease Stains Out of Clothes
When it comes to stains, chalk has many of the same properties as baking soda, and therefore you can use it in similar ways. For example, to use it to help remove grease stains, do the following:
- Rub chalk into the affected area, or sprinkle a liberal amount of chalk dust on the stain. Chalk can't cause any harm, so don't worry about how much you use.
- Once it is applied, wait for a few hours. Try to make sure that the article of clothing isn't disturbed (you don't want chalk dust everywhere, do you?).
- Check the clothing to see if the grease stain has been removed or at least diminished. Brush off and reapply the chalk if you need to.
- Check again until you see progress. Once you are satisfied, run the article through a wash cycle as usual (if only to get the chalk off) and then air dry. Make one last check for the stain.
- Repeat as necessary if the stain is not gone, or move on to another method.
One last note: Considering how messy chalk can be, you might want to do this outside if the weather permits, or at least do this in a place such as a garage.
Bonus Tip: Try Adding Dish Soap
If the chalk alone isn’t getting the job done, try adding a little dish soap. Follow the same instructions as those listed above for using dish soap and baking soda.
4. Using Aloe Vera Gel
In addition to offering a wide variety of health benefits, aloe vera gel can be a helpful tool in getting rid of grease stains. To do so, go by the following steps:
- Dab at the spot with a paper towel or cloth to remove as much of the grease stain as possible.
- Soak the area or entire article of clothing in water at the proper temperature for the article. For best results, use the hottest water the fabric can handle.
- Scrub the affected area with aloe vera gel, ideally using a circular motion to ensure an even spread over the stain.
- Wait at least 15 minutes for the gel to work, though you can wait longer. You don't want to wait forever, though, as it could dry out eventually. Be sure to rinse before this happens or you’ll have to deal with removing dried aloe in addition to removing the stain.
- Once you think it has set in enough, wash the garment as you would normally and check to see if the stain is still there as well as you can.
- Air dry the article of clothing. Once this is done, repeat the process until the stain is gone or see if another method might be better.
5. Using Hairspray
As it turns out, hairspray can be great for getting rid of grease stains. It's simple to use, and while it might not be the most powerful stain removal method, you can try it out first to see if it works. Try the following steps:
- Put a paper towel on top of the stain.
- Spray the hairspray on the stained area. Use plenty of hairspray so that the stain seems completely drenched in it.
- Wait for 30 minutes or a little longer for the hairspray to work.
- Wash your clothes as usual.
- Check to see if the stain persists. If so, then repeat the process or try another method.
Additional Notes and Tips
Each of the above methods for getting grease out of clothes is great, but there are also some things you should know and tips you should follow regardless of what you're doing. Take note of the following:
- As a rule, it is best to address grease stains as soon as you see them. The sooner you can act on the stain, the less time it has to set in. While you can remove stains that have been there a while, you might need to use a stronger method or more abrasive cleaner. Alternatively, you might need to try the methods above several times, which can be a chore and take extra time.
- There are, of course, other methods to get rid of grease stains on top of those listed above. We wanted to avoid more abrasive or potent cleaners, like bleach, for this list, though they remain an option for the toughest of circumstances. Just make sure they won't damage your clothes in the process!
- You can use cornstarch as an alternative to baking soda or use baby powder instead of chalk.
- As mentioned, in some cases, see if you can blot away some of the grease with a cloth (ideally one you don't care about), paper towel or napkin before starting. While it might not remove the stain, it can reduce the amount of grease you will have to deal with and prevent it from spreading.
- Do take care not to rub the stain in more deeply by doing so or spreading the stain. Blot gently.
- Some people like to put a piece of cardboard on the other side of the stain. We think this is an excellent idea if you worry about the grease spreading to your table, etc. Placing cardboard between the layers of fabric also prevents large stains from soaking through to the other side.
- Avoid using a machine to dry clothes with grease stains if possible. If you put stained clothes in a dryer, you can effectively bake the stain in, making it much, much harder to get out.
- Be safe when cleaning your clothes. If there are heavy grease stains involved, keep the clothing away from heat sources. And if you try using stronger cleaning products to remove the stain, make sure your laundry room (or wherever you’re working) is well-ventilated.
- The fabric you are treating matters. While you can try almost anything on your average cotton t-shirt, there are other times where you will want to be more careful. You cannot scrub silk or lace items too hard, for example. In other cases, you will want to check to see if items are color-safe. While we picked some of the safest methods possible, paying attention will protect your clothes. We suggest visiting a dry cleaner (more on that below) if you need to remove a grease stain from delicate fabric.
- While the type of grease might matter to a limited degree, in terms of cleaning it up and removing stains, there is little difference in what removal method you should use. The strength of the stain matters much more than anything else.
- When washing your stained clothes, it is often best to clean them separately from the rest of your laundry. While unlikely, you don't want the stain mixing in or the grease affecting other clothing. It is better to be cautious in these situations, especially if clothes you love are involved.
- If you can’t wash your stained clothes right away, store them separate from your other dirty laundry until you are able to do so. However, remember to act as quickly as possible to ensure the best chance of successfully removing the stain.
- It is still wise to see a professional with some fabrics or stains, which likely means dry cleaning. Some stains are just too harsh, and many clothes are dry clean only for a reason. Don't risk your best items because you don't want to take a trip to the cleaners or pay a small amount for professional cleaning.
Grease stains can be a huge eyesore and are a cause of laundry worries. Yet, they don't have to be. They can be an easy chore to take care of with the above tips. We hope that you find a method that works for you and that you can get back to wearing your favorite clothes with confidence.