How to get oil out of fabric? Specifically, I want to get motor oil out of jeans and butter out of my favorite silk shirt.
Nina Johnson, Paris, KY
The trick for how to get oil out of clothes is to treat it as soon as possible, just like when you need to remove paint from fabric. So let’s tackle how to remove butter from the silk shirt first. Follow the next steps if this is a garment you typically wash at home. If not, take it to the dry cleaner.
Use a knife to remove large pieces of butter. Once you scrape away as much butter as possible, cover the spot with cornstarch. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the powder into the stain. Let the cleaning solution sit overnight.
Use a dry brush to eliminate the powder from the stain. If the spot hasn’t disappeared when you brush away the powder in the morning, repeat the process. Wash as usual with your standard laundry detergent and water setting.
As for the jeans, denim is a tough fabric so that you can be more aggressive. If the oil is fresh, blot as much of it as possible with a paper towel. If you have a commercial stain remover like OxiClean, try that first. Otherwise, try coating the stain with dishwashing liquid and working it into the spot with a toothbrush.
Other home remedies for oil stain removal include rubbing alcohol, shampoo, and even WD-40. See the full oil stains removal list here. Once you’re satisfied that the motor oil has faded from the fabric, wash the jeans in the hottest water they can stand. But don’t dry them in the dryer until you’ve had a chance to check that the stain is completely gone.
If you can still see a mark, treat it with the detergent again. Or try a different method like rubbing alcohol. Successful stain removal depends on allowing enough time for the product to work.