How to Get Tough Grease Stains Out of Clothes

How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

The Spruce / Tara Anand

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 20

Grease stains are some of the toughest stains to tackle in the laundry room, and they can be a real pain to get out of clothing. Natural fiber fabrics like cotton and linen are easier to clean, but if the fabric is synthetic like polyester or nylon then grease molecules form a strong bond with the fibers that can be difficult to break.

Fortunately, greasy oil stains can be removed if you act quickly and use a heavy-duty laundry detergent, corn starch, and a toothbrush. Keep reading for our guide to remove grease stains.

Stain type  Oil-based
Detergent type  Liquid, heavy-duty
Water temperature  Hot
Cycle type  Normal

How to Remove Oil Stains From Clothing, Once and For All

Before You Begin

The key to removing an oil-based stain from any fabric is to use an enzyme-based heavy-duty detergent or stain remover and the hottest water possible that won't damage the fabric.

If you have many clothes or linens with heavy grease stains, wash them separately from your other laundry. Heavy grease can spread to other fabric surfaces.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife or spoon
  • Clean, dry cloth or white paper towel
  • Old toothbrush (optional)
  • Washing machine


  • Corn starch
  • Solvent-based spray or gel
  • Heavy-duty liquid detergent


Materials needed to remove grease stains from clothing

The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

How to Remove Grease Stains From Clothing

  1. Remove Solid Material

    • Remove any grease solids from the fabric with the edge of a dull knife or spoon.
    • If the grease is liquid, blot with a clean, dry cloth or white paper towel. Do not rub because that will only push the grease deeper into the fibers.
    • You can also sprinkle the stain with a bit of cornstarch to help absorb the grease. Leave the powder on the stain for at least 15 minutes and then brush away.
    Blotting the grease stained area with a clean cloth

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  2. Treat With a Solvent-Based Cleaner

    • Treat the stain with a solvent-based spray or gel-like Zout or Shout or Spray 'n Wash.
    • If you don't have a solvent-based stain remover, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent like Tide or Persil directly to the stain and work it in by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers or an old toothbrush.
    • If you only have powdered detergent, make a paste with a bit of warm water and apply it to the stain.
    Spraying the grease stain with a solvent stain remover

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  3. Wait and Wash

    • Allow the stain remover to work on the stain for at least 15 minutes; 30 minutes is even better. This will allow the chemicals to break apart the grease or oil molecules and make them easier to flush out of the fabric fibers.
    • 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 garment is made of synthetic fabric like polyester that wouldn't normally be washed in hot water, then stretch the pre-treated stained area of the fabric over a bowl and pour a steady stream of hot water directly onto the stain before washing as usual.

    Letting the stain remover work before laundering the garment

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  4. Inspect and Repeat as Needed

    • Inspect the stained area of the garment before drying and repeat the treatment if necessary (high heat will make the stain even more difficult to remove).
    • Repeat the cleaning steps if necessary.
    Inspecting the shirt to ensure the stain is gone

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

When to Call a Professional

When grease lands on a dry-clean-only garment, lift away the solids as directed in the above steps. Then, blot away as much of the oily liquid as possible with a cloth or white paper towel.

If the grease stain is small, you may be able to remove it by spot-treating with a dry cleaning solvent. For bigger stains, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

blotting a grease-based stain

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo