How to Remove Oil Stains From Nylon Clothes

care of nylon
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The introduction of nylon fibers in the late 1930s changed both the textile and manufacturing worlds. Not only do women have sheer stockings now, but fishermen have stronger lines, promising ballerinas can buy tutus less expensively, and more durable floor mats are in most cars.

Nylon is extremely durable but is sensitive to high temperatures in the washer, dryer, or when ironing. Its fibers are dyed during manufacturing so the finished fabric is colorfast and resistant to fading, mold, insects, and water (umbrellas are made of nylon). The fibers used for clothing and accessories are usually soft and silky. However, due to how it is manufactured, nylon material attracts oil stains. You can handle these stains at home, just keep the material away from heat.

Stain Type Oil-based 
Detergent Type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold to warm
Cycle Type Gentle

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5
  • Total Time: 45 minutes

Before You Begin

Nylon does not exist in nature. It is a form of plastic developed by a DuPont chemist, Wallace Carothers. Nylon is often manufactured first in large plastic chips which are melted at high heat and drawn through a plate with dozens of tiny holes (a spinneret) to create strands of nylon yarn. The strands can then be woven into fabrics that range as sheer as women's stockings to heavy tarps or tent fabrics.

Unless the nylon fibers are combined with non-washable fibers, nylon clothes can be machine or hand-washed using cool or warm water and any commercial or homemade detergent (always check the manufacturer's care label).

If the item is delicate, like lingerie, consider hand-washing or use a gentle cycle with the item placed in a protective mesh bag.

It is always best to wash nylon garments with similar synthetic fabric items after you have closed all zippers and turned the garments inside out. Washing a nylon shirt with a pair of blue jeans can result in snags and pulls.

Nylon is quick-drying and air drying is most gentle on these clothes. However, nylon garments can be tumbled dry on low to warm heat. The problem with tumble drying is that nylon clothes can develop static cling. This can be reduced by using natural wool dryer balls or a dryer sheet.

What You'll Need


  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent
  • Stain remover (optional)


  • Washing machine
  • Clothes dryer (optional)

How to Remove Oil Stains From Nylon

Most stains can be removed from nylon following recommended stain removal steps for the specific stain. Oil stains can be tough but are usually easily removed if treated immediately.

  1. Pre-Treat With Enzymatic or Heavy-Duty Detergent

    Use an enzyme-based pre-treater or a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent (such as Tide or Persil) that contains enzymes to break apart an oil or protein stain.

  2. Wash as Usual

    Follow the washing directions on the label for the clothing item. Nylon can be hand washed or washed using the delicate cycle in a machine in cold or warm water.

  3. Allow It to Dry

High Heat Can Melt Nylon Fibers

  • Ironing nylon clothes is not recommended because an excessively hot iron can actually melt the fibers. If you must press something nylon or with nylon content, use a low iron temperature and always place a pressing cloth between the nylon fabric and the surface of the iron.
  • Using a clothes steamer can remove wrinkles from nylon, but high heat can also cause melting and create holes. Excessive heat can cause the garment to shrink, and that cannot be reversed. Always hold the steam wand at least 12 inches from the clothes and keep it moving. To remove wrinkles, rewash the garment or spritz with water and allow the item to air dry.

If the stain persists, repeat the cleaning instructions as necessary. Check the garment to be sure the stains have been removed before drying. Heat from a tumble dryer or iron will set oil stains and make them almost impossible to remove from the nylon material.