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How Do I Get A Cooking Oil Stain Out Of A Shirt?

By Dr. Laundry July 18, 2016

Q: How do I get a cooking oil stain out of a t shirt? A: You didn’t mention the color of the t-shirt or the fiber content.  That’s OK—I’ve got several different options for you to try based on what’s common for a typical t-shirt.   A really effective product to use on cooking oil stains is actually liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for hand washing dishes) because it is formulated for greasy dishes.  Because liquid dishwashing detergent generally makes lots and lots of suds, you only want to use it for pretreating and rinse it away before you put the item in a clothes washer; otherwise it’s possible you’ll end up with excessive foam.  Here’s a great technique you can use to get these stains out:  
  1. Work on the stain when the fabric is dry.  That is, don’t rinse the oily stain with water first.
  2. Use a little liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for hand washing dishes) to pretreat the stains.  Apply a few drops to each stain and let it soak in, rubbing it gently to help work it all the way in if you need to.  Wait 5 minutes, and then rinse with warm water
  3. For a white cotton or poly/cotton t-shirt (that doesn’t also include spandex—check the care label to be sure!), wash in hot water using a good laundry detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.
  4. For a t-shirt that has color (or a white tee that includes some spandex), wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.
  5. Air dry the item and check for success
  I know the air drying step can be a real pain, but it’s important—damp or wet fabric can hide residual oil left behind.  If you miss any of the oily stain when you pretreat with the dishwashing detergent, you’ll probably have some residual oil that you can get all the way out by repeating the treatment starting again on dry fabric.   I hope this helps!  Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for writing!   –Dr. Laundry