How to Remove Coconut Oil Stains from Clothing

Coconut oil with fresh coconut half on wooden background

AshaSathees Photography/ Moment/ Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Whether cooking with coconut oil, using it in a craft, or moisturizing your skin, some of it may end up on your clothes. Luckily, with some household products you likely already have on hand, you can remove the stains from most fabrics.

Read on for our guide on removing coconut oil stains from clothing. Your shirt will look stain-free in no time.

Stain Type Oil-based
Detergent Type Heavy duty
Water Temperature Warm to Hot
Cycle Type Varies depending on type of fabric

Before You Begin

Check the care label on the clothing to see if it is washable or dry-clean-only to determine your next steps. If the fabric is labeled as dry-clean-only, use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to lift away any coconut oil solids. Blot away as much of the oily liquid as possible with a dry white paper towel or sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or talcum powder.  As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and be sure to point out and identify the stain.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 washer or large sink
  • 1 soft-bristled brush
  • 1 spoon, dull knife, or plastic credit card
  • 1 small bowl

Materials

  • 1 container heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • 1 container enzyme-based stain remover
  • 1 container cornstarch or talcum powder

Instructions

How to Remove Coconut Oil Stains from Clothing

  1. Treat the Stain ASAP

    These steps will make stain removal in the laundry room much easier.

    • Gently lift away any solid coconut oil with the edge of a dull knife or spoon as soon as possible. Or, blot the oily drip with a paper towel or napkin.
    • Liberally sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or baby powder to absorb as much of the oil as possible. It usually takes about fifteen minutes for the powder to absorb the oil (longer is fine).
    • Brush the powder away from the stain with a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Pretreat the Coconut Oil Stain

    • Pretreat the stain with an enzyme-based spray or gel stain remover.
    • Allow the stain remover to work on the stain for at least 15 to 30 minutes. This allows the enzymes to begin breaking apart the oil molecules, making them easier to flush out of the fabric fibers.

    Tip

    If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent directly to the stain and work it in with a soft-bristled brush like an old toothbrush or by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers. If you only have powdered detergent, make a paste with a bit of warm water and apply that to the stain.

  3. Wash the Stained Clothing

    • Wash the garment as usual in the hottest water recommended for the fabric along with the recommended amount of detergent for a regular load of laundry.
    • If the stain is on a synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon that wouldn't normally be washed in hot water, stretch the pretreated area of the fabric over a bowl and pour a steady stream of hot water directly onto the stain and then wash in cold or warm water.
  4. Check the Stained Area

    • When you remove the clothing from the washer, inspect the stained area of the garment before tossing it in the dryer.

    Warning

    Never place an oil-stained garment in a dryer. The high heat will make the oil even more difficult—possibly impossible—to remove.

    • If you're not sure that the stain is gone, air-dry the clothing.
    • Repeat the cleaning steps if needed.

Treating a Set-In Coconut Oil Stain

If the coconut oil stain is older, or you missed it and it went through the washer without pretreating, there is still a possibility it can be removed. This process should be used only on cotton fabrics.

  1. Enlist WD-40

    Place a white towel under the stain to protect the rest of the garment. Spray WD-40 onto a cotton swab or a paper towel, and carefully dab it on the stained area. A little goes a long way, do not use a lot of WD-40 as it will spread.

  2. Treat Stain With Additional Powder

    Sprinkle the area with cornstarch or talcum powder and brush with a soft-bristled brush. The powder will clump up and start lifting the oils out of the stain. Remove the clumps. Repeat this step a few times until there are no clumps, just fine powder.

  3. Finally, Use Stain Remover

    Pretreat the area with a stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent. Let the cleaner work for at least 30 minutes before laundering as usual.

Additional Tips for Handling Coconut Oil Stains

Here are some additional tips that will help ensure your success.

  • Don't let the stain stay on the fabric too long. The longer it sits, the harder it is to remove.
  • Don't rub or scrub a coconut oil stain without a cleaning solvent. You can push it further into the material fibers making it more difficult to remove.
  • Don't put the clothes in the dryer until you're sure the stain is gone. The heat from the dryer can set in the stain permanently.