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The 3 Best Ways to Remove Even the Toughest Grease Stains

Someone handwashing a pink piece of clothing.
Kittima05/Shutterstock.com

Got a greasy spill or stain that needs cleaning? It doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. In fact, some of the easiest ways to remove these types of stains involves a few common ingredients you probably already have in your home.

When attempting to remove a grease stain, resist the urge to rub at it, as this will just work it deeper into the fabric or surface. You also want to use products that break down the bonds that cause grease to adhere to material. With these easy tips and and a few basic products, you’ll never have to stress about greasy spills, splatters, or stains again.

Dish Soap

A bottle of blue Dawn soap being poured onto a stain on white fabric
Dawn

Liquid dish soap is one of the best-known treatments for breaking down grease. That’s why it’s used to clean everything from cookware to oil spills. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s also an effective way to remove grease stains from fabric, as well.

It’s important to use a dish soap that’s specifically meant for grease removal, as not all formulas contain those ingredients. Go for a classic, like Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Soap, which is well-known for its grease-fighting formula.

Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap

This grease-fighting classic works just as well on fabric as it does in the kitchen.

The key is to pre-blot the stain to remove as much grease as possible, then treat the remaining spot without rubbing the stain in further. Follow these steps to remove a stain with dish soap:

  1. If the stain is on clothing, place a bit of cardboard behind the stain to avoid transferring the grease to the other side of the garment.
  2. Blot away any excess liquid or oil that’s still on the material.
  3. Apply a few drops of liquid dish soap to the stain, and then gently rub it in.
  4. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes, and then launder as usual.
  5. Allow it to air dry. Avoid putting the piece of clothing in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

If the stain is on upholstery, the steps will be slightly different:

  1. Sprinkle some cornstarch or baby powder on the stain.
  2. Let it sit for a few hours to absorb as much oil as possible.
  3. Brush or vacuum away the powder.
  4. Apply dish soap to the stain as described above.
  5. Blot the soap away using a clean cloth and cool water.
  6. Repeat the process as needed.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of those common pantry items that come in handy for a lot of tasks, including stain removal. Not only does it work well on most stains, but it’s also fairly gentle on material and fabrics.

The steps are pretty simple, although you might have to repeat them a few times:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain until it’s completely covered.
  2. Let it sit and absorb the grease for 10 minutes.
  3. Use a cleaning brush to work the soda into the stain.
  4. As the baking soda turns brown, shake or scrape it off
  5. Reapply the baking soda and repeat steps 1-4.
  6. Launder as usual.
  7. Allow the item to air dry. Avoid putting the piece of clothing in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

There are a few variations on this method that might work, as well, depending on the nature of each individual stain. For example, you might want to combine this with the dish soap method. If so, start with the baking soda, and then move on to the dish soap.

For larger pieces of fabric or something you can’t launder, like upholstery, apply the baking soda the same as above, but leave it on for much longer. Depending on how large and greasy the stain is, you might even want to leave it on for up to 24 hours before brushing it away. You also might want to spot-treat it with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.

Salt

Someone pouring salt on a stain.
Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com

Like baking soda, salt can also remove grease stains by absorbing and pulling the oil out of the fabric. For smaller stains and spot treatment, you can probably just use salt, and then launder the item as usual. For larger stains, you might need to double up with another stain remover.

Start by blotting away the worst of the grease, and then follow these steps to let the salt work its magic:

  1. If the stain is on clothing, place a bit of cardboard behind the stain to avoid transferring the grease to the other side of the garment.
  2. Blot away any excess liquid or oil that’s still on the material.
  3. Sprinkle salt across the stain, and then let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Shake or scrape off the salt.
  5. For stains other than tiny drops of grease splatter, spot-treat with a grease-cutting stain remover.
  6. Launder as usual.
  7. Allow it to air dry. Avoid putting the piece of clothing in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

For the two-pronged method, look for a stain remover that is specifically designed to cut through oil and grease. OxiClean Max Force Foam, for instance, is formulated to penetrate into the fibers of any material and lift away grease.

OxiClean Max Force Foam Laundry Pre-Treater

Grease-fighting stain removers can help with particularly stubborn stains.

Avoid using the salt method on delicate or vintage materials, or particularly dark or colorful fabrics. It tends to work best on sturdy materials and lighter colors.


Getting a grease stain on your clothing, furniture, or linens is frustrating, for sure. Now, however, you have a few methods for getting rid of that nasty grease without damaging materials or fabrics.  But why stop there? We have some tricks for removing greasy stains from your kitchenware, too.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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