How to remove grease stains

Whether you have a cooking stain, a greasy dropped-chip stain, or grease from the bicycle chain to remove, here’s how to vanish that grease or oil stain from clothes and furnishings.

Removing grease stains on clothing

  • Blot as much of the grease as possible with white paper towels.
  • Keep blotting with fresh paper towels until paper is clean.
  • Run hot water through the grease to loosen it up (if fabric permits – check the care label to make sure it can take the heat and the dye is colourfast).
  • Rinse with hot or warm water and then wash as normal.
  • For tough or older stains, soak in a solution of detergent overnight. If the stain remains, try ironing the stained fabric once it’s dry with a piece of brown paper on either side of the fabric to draw out the grease.

Removing grease stains on unwashable fabric

Fried chicken on the couch? Turn an “uh-oh” sigh into a surprised “Oh wow, that stain is out” sigh of relief.

  • For fresh stains, blot as much of the grease as possible with a white paper towel.
  • Then, lay a clean paper towel over the stain, and weigh it down with a heavy book. Leave for around 30 minutes.
  • Test on an inconspicuous piece of fabric first, but try using an oil solvent like a citrus-based cleaner, or drycleaning fluid, and dab the stain gently from the inside out.
  • Dab with a dry, white towel.

Removing grease stains from carpet or furnishings

  • Start by blotting as much of the excess grease as possible using a paper towel or tea towel.
  • Sprinkle with cornflour, allow the oil to be absorbed, and then vacuum.
  • Repeat these steps if necessary.
  • More stubborn stains may need treating with oil solvent or drycleaning fluid. Use method above for unwashable fabric.

Stain remover notes

  • The quicker you deal with a stain, the more likely you are to remove it.
  • Unless it’s a fat stain, cold water is best for rinsing a stain, so as not to set it and make it harder to remove later.
  • Before using a cleaning solution, test on an inconspicuous section, such as the inside of a sleeve, to check it won’t ruin the fabric.
  • Always rinse out one cleaning solution before trying another to remove a stain as certain chemicals are not supposed to be mixed.
  • Read the care instructions on the item of clothing before attempting vigorous stain removal. Some clothing may be too delicate to attempt stain removal and are better taken straight to the drycleaners.
  • Don’t rub fabric harshly to remove stains as this can abrade fibres and cause fading.
  • The white towel blotting method is often recommended for stain removal. Simply fold a clean white towel and, once you have treated the stain with water, gently dab it with the towel and check to see how much of the stain has transferred to the white towel.
  • If using commercial stain removers and detergents, always follow the product label to understand the proper use and safety precautions you may need to take.
  • It’s always easier to treat a stain on a washable fabric.

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