How to Clean Oil Stains From Polyester

Although polyester is fairly stain resistant, oil will still leave a mark. Fortunately, since polyester is easier to clean than natural fibers, removing the stain can be done with a few simple steps.

You Will Need:

  • Dawn dish soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm water

Steps to Remove the Oil Stain:

  1. Begin by moistening the area with warm water.
  2. Apply a grease-fighting dish soap such as Dawn. Be sure to choose one that does not contain bleach, or it may discolor the fabric.
  3. Work the dish soap into the stained area with your fingers or a stiff brush.
  4. Rinse the area to see if there is improvement.
  5. If needed apply more dish soap, scrub and allow it to set on the stain for several minutes, but do not allow it to dry.
  6. Wash the garment as usual with regular laundry detergent.
  7. Allow the piece to air dry until you are sure the stain is removed.
  8. Retreat if necessary.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the oil stain is old, you can make it “fresh” again by spraying it with WD-40. Once the oil is absorbed again, treat the stain using the above method.
  • Polyester is a strong fabric that remains colorfast with most cleaning methods. Still, if you have any concerns about fading or adverse effects, test a small hidden area first.
  • There are a variety of commercial stain removal products that are also designed to treat grease stains. These can be applied to the surface as well to aid in removal.
  • Although warmer water temperatures can set some stains, in this case it is helpful to break down the oils. Avoid using cold water for the best removal success.


  1. Dawn dishwashing liquid will wash makeup right out of a polyester blouse and it won’t damage the fabric. Just wet the stain, gently work a little Dawn into the fabric, then rinse the spot out.

  2. Don’t mess around with homemade stain remedies when there are a dozen different kinds of pretreatment stain remover products in the laundry aisle at the store – and most of them are safe for polyester and blends. Be careful not to use a stain remover that contains bleach on colored clothes.

  3. If you have a home dry cleaning kit, the kind that works in your dryer, you can use some of the dry cleaning spot solution that came with the kit to get out an oily stain without damaging the fabric. Read the kit’s directions before you use it, but normally you just have to thoroughly work the solution into the stain and then blot it off with an absorbent pad from the kit.

  4. If you have oily skin or hair that leaves stains on your shirt collars, you can wash the oil stains out with a little of your regular hair shampoo. Just work the shampoo into the stain and then wash it out. If the stains are really bad, you may have to shampoo the collar more than once.

  5. I used this to get a splatter of oil-based paint out of my favorite polyester jacket. Pour the alcohol on the paint and then start picking as much paint as you can off of the fabric. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually get all the paint off.

  6. First, you will need to go to your local hardware store and get some WD-40. Then, get some Dawn dish soap. Spray WD-40 on the stain and let it sit for a bit (~5 minutes), then rub Dawn into the stain with a scrub brush.

    You will see an immediate change. Then throw it in the washer (Note: Do not add laundry soap or you will have bubbles everywhere). This worked for me so I am passing it on to you…

  7. You can put any powder (baby powder) on the oil; let it be there for some time, and then wash it in the laundry.

  8. Anneatica says:

    Why do stains get off better on polyester rather than other fabrics? Also, why hot water rather than cold water?

  9. CleanStuff says:

    Hi Anneatica,

    Stains are easier to remove from polyester because it is a synthetic fiber and therefore does not absorb the stain as easily or quickly as a natural fiber would. Natural fibers, such as cotton, swell and absorb moisture, including dyes and stain molecules. When removing the stain, it first requires a method to pull these dyes and stain molecules back out of the fiber. Since the synthetic fibers found in polyester do not absorb in this same fashion, the stains are not as deeply set. They simply need to be removed from the surface of the fibers.

    Hot water is usually not recommended in stain removal as it can set the stain. In some cases, polyester fibers can tolerate the extra heat and it can be beneficial to “break up” the stain, such as oil, so that it can be removed.

  10. Really worked on my polyester motorcycle jacket.

  11. Wow, thanks for the advice Ferro! I used some carb cleaner similar to WD-40 and it got the oil stains right out!

  12. Emmalene says:

    I have an Adidas track suit top that is made from polyester. I took it to a club and it was dropped on the floor without me noticing it. While it was on the mucky club floor, it was trampled. There were beer spills on the floor that were trampled into it. It is a right mess, as the color is white. Is there any chance of removing all these stains? At the minute, I have it soaking in the bath in cold water and have applied some Vanish stain remover (powder form) over the top of the jacket. Please help. x

    Look! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

  13. Thanks so much! I spilled olive oil on my ottoman and this worked like a charm!!

  14. My best friend’s toddler squeezed out an entire tube of Jessica Alba’s organic diaper rash cream into her ottoman while I was babysitting. In my defense, I was making dinner and was only away for five minutes! Anyone with a toddler knows the destruction they can cause in short time frames! HELP!

  15. Hi.
    My daughter has a beige puffer coat; the label says it 100% polyester. It stains easily and when I wash it on the recommended temperate (30), the stains do not come out and it looks as if I haven’t washed it. It’s so frustrating. What can I do?? The label does not mention anything about dry cleaning.
    Thanks in advance.

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