How to Clean Salad Dressing Off Clothes

Although any salad dressing can be difficult to remove from clothing, it’s the oil in the dressing that tends to leave the stain. Naturally, the oilier the dressing, the more problematic the stain.  The best thing to do is attack the mess as soon as you notice a drip or spill. Even if that’s not possible, if you follow these instructions you should be able to clean or improve most salad dressing mishaps.

You Will Need:

  • Cornstarch or baby powder
  • White paper towel or cloth napkin
  • Laundry pre-treater or liquid detergent
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washing machine

Steps to Remove the Salad Dressing Stain:

  1. As soon as you notice the stain, blot the mark with cornstarch or baby powder. This will start to absorb the oils in the dressing that can lead to those nasty stains.
  2. Wipe excess powder from the stain with a napkin. Repeat the blotting if necessary.
  3. Once you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, pre-treat with a laundry stain remover or a liquid laundry detergent.
  4. Wash in the hottest water recommended for the fabric with your regular laundry detergent. The hot water along with the detergent will break down the oils in the dressing and remove the stain.
  5. After the wash cycle, check to see if the stain is gone. If it’s still there, repeat stain removal attempts BEFORE you dry the clothing.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you’re in a restaurant and need a quick stain remover, try using artificial sweetener.
  • Do not dry the clothing until the stain has been removed to your satisfaction. Drying tends to set stains, which may make them impossible to remove.


  1. Corinne says:

    I must be the biggest sloppiest eater ever. It seems all too often that I come home from eating dinner with friends, look into the mirror, and see a greasy spot on my blouse or t-shirt looking like it will stain. Here’s the tip everyone: Don’t wash that item in the washer yet! Rub that spot with Fels Naptha Soap using cool or lukewarm water. Rinse and repeat until the spot is gone. Then, you can safely wash it in the washing machine. Check before putting it into the dryer. The stain is most probably out. If not, repeat the treatment. It’s amazing how many tops I’ve saved this way. In fact, I make it a habit to keep a piece of Fels Naptha in my bathroom and use the quick mirror check before heading to bed. (Yes, Fels Naptha bars are still available at the grocery store near other soaps.)

    P.S. NEVER put a stained item in the dryer. The heat will set the stain and you’ll be unable to get it out.

  2. Julie says:

    I just dropped two pieces of oil-covered lettuce on a favorite cotton dress. First, I blotted with water. The water dried, and the spot was still there. So I looked this article up online. I covered the stains with baking soda, and blotted. Then I dusted it off, and now cannot see the spots at all! I’ll still be careful before drying, but I am truly amazed and grateful.

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