How to Remove Oil Stains from Cotton

Moaz asked, “How to remove oil stain from cotton?”

Oil stains often come out of clothing during a regular wash. If the stain remains or if you want to pre-treat the stain before washing, use one of the steps below.

You Will Need:

  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • A spot remover
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • WD-40
  • Lighter fluid
  • Talcum powder
  • Baking soda
  • Chalk
  • Eucalyptus oil

Steps to Remove the Stain:

  1. One of the easiest ways to remove an oil stain from cotton clothing is to use a dry cleaning solvent.¹ Follow the instructions on the package of your selected solvent, or take the garment to a professional dry cleaner for treatment.
  2. Lay the front of the stain on a cloth or stack of several paper towels. Apply a spot remover, such as Carbona Stain Devils, to the back of the stain and blot the back of the stain to push the oil out the front side of the fabric.¹
  3. No spot remover? Use acetone nail polish remover instead. Place the front of the stain on a towel or folded paper towel, apply the nail polish remover to the back of the stain, and blot the back of the stain.¹
  4. Spray the stain with WD-40 and allow the WD-40 to soak for about ten minutes. Then, rub liquid dish soap into the oil stain and wash the garment as usual.²
  5. Soak the oil stain with lighter fluid, then launder as usual.³
  6. Cover the stain with a powder to soak up the oil, such as talcum powder⁴ or baking soda. You can also rub the stain with white chalk and the chalk will absorb the oil.⁵ Allow the powder or chalk to soak for an hour or two, then wash as usual.
  7. If the stain is stubborn, it can likely be removed by dabbing with eucalyptus oil.⁶ Dab the eucalyptus oil onto the stain, then launder as usual.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Cooking oil stains can sometimes be removed simply by rubbing the stain with liquid dish soap, then rinsing with warm water.⁷
  • It is better to use warm or hot water when cleaning an oil stain.
  • Ventilate the area well if using WD-40 or lighter fluid.


  1. Clean It Fast, Clean It Right by Jeff Bredenberg
  2. The Queen of Clean’s Complete Cleaning Guide by Linda Cobb
  3. 99 Cent Solutions by Reader’s Digest
  4. The Cleaning Bible by Kim Woodburn & Aggie MacKenzie
  5. Natural Green Home Cleaning for Beginners by R. Kishore
  6. Haley’s Hints by Graham & Rosemary Haley
  7. Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck


  1. TIP: Don’t try the nail polish fix on dyed cotton garments; I did and the colour drained out where I used the acetone and I ruined my daughter-in-law’s top… :-(

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