How to Remove Oil Stains from Carpet


Patti asked: How do I clean olive oil off of carpeting? I have off-white carpeting, and I spilled olive oil on the carpet.

Oil spills on carpet are some of the trickiest clean-ups in any home. Spilling oil on the hard kitchen floor is frustrating enough, but when it soaks into the carpet fibers, it’s a whole new challenge to pull it out. Fortunately, oil is not permanent and can be removed. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a clean carpet in no time.

You Will Need:

  • Absorbent cloths/newspapers/brown paper bags
  • Grease-fighting dish soap (ex: Dawn)
  • Cornstarch (baby powder will also work)
  • Vacuum
  • Toothbrush
  • Bucket
  • Sponges or soft cloths
  • Water
  • Towels
  • Patience

Steps to Remove the Oil:

  1. Begin by soaking up as much of the oil as possible with one of the absorbent materials above. Press towels, newspapers or brown paper bags onto the area to soak up the oil. If using newspaper, do not allow the print to set on the carpet for long or the ink will transfer to the carpet.
  2. Once a majority of the oil has been soaked up with the paper or cloths, cover it completely with cornstarch. Brush it over the area slightly to work it into the fibers. The cornstarch will soak up the oil from the fibers, leaving you with less to scrub out later on.
  3. Allow the cornstarch to set on the area for at least one hour.
  4. Vacuum the area to remove the powder or cornstarch.
  5. If the spill was large, repeat with a second coat of powder or cornstarch and allow it to set for another hour.
  6. Vacuum the excess away.
  7. Now you are ready to tackle the last bits of oil still left in the carpet.
  8. Apply a small amount of grease-fighting dish detergent to the area. Spread it around to form a thin layer. Work it into the fibers a little with your fingers so that all of the areas are covered.
  9. Scrub with a soft brush or old toothbrush to work it into the fibers further.
  10. Removing the dish soap is the most time consuming part of this process. Though only a small amount was used, it suds up when water is added.
  11. Pour a small amount of water onto the area and immediately blot it up with a clean cloth.
  12. Repeat until all of the soap is removed.
  13. If a carpet cleaner is available, it will make this “rinsing” part much easier. Keep in mind that many units do not like suds, and the dish soap suds up when it is vacuumed out. Empty the water container often to keep them from becoming a problem.
  14. When the area is completely rinsed, place a couple of towels over the area and press down firmly. This will absorb the extra water.
  15. Allow the area to dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • A fan or dehumidifier can be placed near the area to help speed the drying process. Allowing the carpet to stay moist for too long may result in mold.
  • Dry cleaning solvent can also be used to treat oil stains. Blot it onto the stained area with a clean cloth and blot with a separate cloth to remove.
  • For extra cleaning power, mix vinegar with the dish detergent, then apply to the stained area.


  1. JoAnn says:

    I had a bottle of olive oil spill on a throw rug. I have tried to wash it. It came out on the top part of the rug, but the rubber backing is still oily feeling. How do I get that off the backing?

    Thank you

  2. Hilary says:

    I put vinegar on the spot and the stain disappeared. No need for the dish soap!

  3. Mary says:

    Any suggestions on removing oil stain from a seisal mat?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

  4. Alan says:

    This works for furniture oil as well.

  5. Nick says:

    Spilled olive oil on the back seat of my car. How do I remove the oil?

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

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