Skip to content
Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Olive Oil Stains

By Dr. Laundry October 29, 2009

Q. How do you get out olive oil?

Thanks! — Nola

A. Hi Nola;

One of the best things to use for olive oil is actually liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for handwashing 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 you’ll likely end up with excessive foam. Here’s what you can try:

  1. Work on the stains when the fabric is dry. That is, don’t rinse them with water first.
  2. Apply a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to each stain and gently massage it in. Wait 5 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.
  3. Next, if your item is white and bleachable (check the care label for the fiber content and don’t bleach it if it has any spandex), wash the item in hot water using a good laundry detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach2.
  4. If the item has any color, or it contain any spandex, wash it in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster.
  5. Air dry 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 stains 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 is helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks again for writing!

—Dr. Laundry