How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes, Cloth, Couches & More: Multiple Methods

(Drymaster Systems|

Oh, darn! You just stained your favorite cotton t-shirt with grease, or perhaps it’s upholstery like your living room couch. Grease stains can occur from liquid spills as well as detergent or fabric softener in the laundry that doesn’t fully dissolve. Either way, you want the grease out ASAP. How do you remove grease stains?

Here are some grease stain removal options for clothing and textiles:

  • A dollop of dish soap or even some table salt can clean your clothes of grease
  • WD-40, baby powder, or powdered laundry detergent will transform the appearance of your jeans
  • Baking soda can treat grease-stained upholstery
  • Cornstarch will leave your towels looking fresh and new
  • White vinegar can solve a stained carpet issue
  • Dishwashing detergent will get grease stains out of bedding

Keep reading for detailed information and step-by-step instructions for cleaning grease from your clothing and textiles for good. No matter where the grease stain, you’ll soon have a solution for preserving your favorite clothes and furniture.

How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

Of all the places to expect grease stains, clothing would be the most common. Whether you spent a day working hard in your garage or your clothes just came out looking dingy and stained from the washer, you don’t have to throw away your shirts. Instead, it’s time to get proactive.

Polyester Clothes

Before you get started with stain removal, check your clothing label. Is your shirt primarily polyester? This ester group of polymers is also known as polyethylene terephthalate. Polyester often comes from petroleum.

As a synthetic, polyester is found in lots of textiles, clothing among them. A polyester shirt or pants with a grease stain will require different measures than garments made of cotton, but your clothes are likely savable.

Here’s what you have to do.

Step 1: Take some common table salt and grab a pinch, just enough to cover the entire grease stain. Then, rub the salt in some.

Step 2: Leave your polyester shirt or pants for 60 minutes. During that time, the salt will get right to work absorbing the grease so the stain is less apparent.

Step 3: Pick up your shirt or pants and shake out the salt.

Step 4: Next, grab some paper towels, at least a handful, and place them on a flat surface like your kitchen counter or a laundry table. Put your shirt or pants down so the opposite side of the stain is showing. Cover that side with a laundry-safe stain remover to saturate into the stain from the other side.

Step 5: With some more paper towels, begin wiping up the stain remover. The grease should come out with it.

Step 6: When only a few traces of the stain remover and the grease remain, hang up your polyester garment so it can air dry a bit. Then, clean any leftover residue with cold water only.

Step 7: Now tackle the grease stain aggressively, adding more liquid detergent to the stain’s front side. Use your hands to push the stain remover into the fabric, then wash your shirt or pants in the washing machine. It should come out grease-free.

Cotton Clothes

If you have clothes that are primarily cotton, you can skip the table salt. Instead, you’ll want some dish soap handy. Here are the steps to follow to clean your cotton garment.

Step 1: Lay your cotton shirt or pants somewhere flat. Apply a dollop of dish soap, the size of a button or a teaspoon’s worth. Even if your stain is bigger than that, overdoing it on the dish soap can make it suds up.

Step 2: Pinch the stained cotton garment between both hands and rub in the dish soap on the shirt so now the entire stain is covered. Let 5 to 10 minutes go by so the dish soap can get deep into the grease stain.

Step 3: Put your shirt or pants in the washer. You may have to wash the garment twice for especially stubborn grease stains, but most stains will come out the first time you wash them.


You don’t mind your denim distressed or bedazzled, but not covered in grease. You can use all sorts of household products to combat grease-stained jeans, among them WD-40, dish soap, shampoo, baby powder, or powdered laundry detergent.

Here’s how to use WD-40 for removing grease from jeans:

Step 1: Take WD-40 and spritz it on your denim stain. Yes, WD-40, the same lubricant people use when their door gets squeaky or they want to ward off corrosion and rust. WD-40 is a degreaser, so it’s definitely helpful here.

Step 2: Let the WD-40 saturate into the denim for 20 minutes or longer. Then, apply dish soap where the WD-40 is without removing the lubricant. Rub the mixture into the jeans.

Step 3: Turn your tap on cold and rinse the jeans. Add more dish soap, then wash your denim in the washing machine.

Got dish soap? Save your stained denim pants or jean jacket with these steps:

Step 1: As a pretreatment, squirt some grease-busting dish detergent over the whole stain.

Step 2: After 15 minutes or more, wash your denim in the washing machine.

A combination of baby powder and shampoo can also remove grease stains from jeans if you have those items handy at home. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Lay out your denim garment somewhere flat and cover the stain in baby powder.

Step 2: Leave the jeans be all night. In the morning, when you come back to your denim garment, dust off the baby powder.

Step 3: Take shampoo from the bottle and cover the stain. Then toss the jeans in the washer.

Last but certainly not least, here’s how you can use powdered laundry detergent to clean your jeans of grease stains:

Step 1: Take some powdered laundry detergent and the same quantity of water. Combine them and mix until they become paste-like.

Step 2: Rub the paste over your stained jeans. Then, with a soft cloth, work the detergent paste further into the stain as well as you can. Wash your jeans in the washing machine.

How to Remove Grease Stains from Couch Fabric

What if your clothes are fine but you somehow tracked grease onto your couch? It can be disheartening to discover such a stain. Clothes you can replace relatively inexpensively, but your couch? Not at all. Is it done for?

You can recover your couch cushions to their former glory with the following grease stain removal method.

Step 1: Take a soft, clean cloth and try to absorb some of the grease with the cloth. In a pinch, paper towels will do for this task.

Step 2: Take baking soda and cover what remains of the stain, ensuring the entire surface of the stain is evenly coated.

Step 3: Wait for 15 minutes, during which time the baking soda will suck up the moisture left in the grease that your cloth or paper towel didn’t get.

Step 4: Plug in your vacuum and suck up the baking soda until no residue is left.

Step 5: Depending on what your couch label says, your next steps vary. For W couch labels, combine dishwashing detergent (2 teaspoons) with water (a cup) and clean the stain with that. The best dishwashing detergent for the job is that which scrubs through grease.

If your couch has an S code, then you can use a dry-cleaning solvent.

Okay, so what the heck are W and S labels? We’re glad you asked! A W label means you can use cleaning agents that are water-based on your couch. That said, you must only clean with distilled water instead of tap water, as the minerals in tap water can fade the upholstery.

An S label stands for mild cleaning solvents only, but no water. You also can’t dry-clean the couch, more than likely.

What if your couch has an S/W label? That means you can use water-based or waterless cleaning products, but still no tap water. Oh, and if you see an X label, then you can only brush or vacuum stains away, no cleaning products allowed!

How to Remove Grease Stains from Towels

When that big oily grease stain happened, your first inclination was to grab a towel to try and blot it up. What you didn’t realize was that you now stained the towel too. If you can, you’d like to clean your towel so it doesn’t have to go in the trash heap.

Be sure to follow these steps for cleaner towels.

Step 1: Lay your towel completely flat. Take some cornstarch and cover the entire stain.

Step 2: Let at least 5 minutes pass so the cornstarch can absorb most of the grease.

Step 3: Hold your towel over a garbage can and, with a brush or even your hand, sweep the cornstarch into the can.

Step 4: Use a laundry pretreatment, applying it over the stain and then pushing the pretreatment into the grease with a soft, clean cloth like a washcloth. Let the pretreatment sit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: Throw your towel in the washer. Before you run the wash cycle though, add white vinegar, half a cup, into the washer. Don’t skip your laundry detergent either. The combination of these products will remove the grease stain and the smell too.  

How to Remove Grease Stains from Carpet

Carpet stains are never fun, especially with a seemingly impossible stain like grease. Fortunately, we have not one but two methods for cleaning your carpet of grease. The first is to use white vinegar and the second method involves cornmeal or cornstarch.

Here are the grease stain removal steps with white vinegar.

Step 1: Wet a kitchen sponge with water and moisten the grease stain.

Step 2: Cover the stain in white vinegar, but incredibly sparingly. You only need a couple of drops here.

Step 3: Add a wet spotter on a pad, which consists of water (8 parts), glycerine (1 part), and dishwasher detergent (1 part). Your wet spotter should be in a container such as a bottle. Make sure you shake it ahead of using the spotter so the ingredients are well-incorporated.

Step 4: As the pad begins losing absorbency, cover it in more wet spotter and reapply to the grease stain.

Step 5: Repeat this as necessary until the grease stain is gone from your carpet. Then, clean the residue away with water.

If you have cornmeal or cornstarch instead of white vinegar, here are your steps for cleaning up your grease-stained carpet.

Step 1: Using a soft, clean cloth or a paper towel, remove any standing grease on the carpet.

Step 2: Cover what remains of the stain in cornmeal or cornstarch, both of which will absorb the grease.

Step 3: Grab a stiff-bristled brush and rub it into the cornmeal or cornstarch.

Step 4: The stain may be gone at this point, but if it’s not, use a sponge and dry-cleaning solvent to tackle what’s left of the grease.

Step 5: Apply a dry spotter. Unlike a wet spotter, a dry spotter includes coconut oil (1 part) and liquid dry-cleaning solvent (8 parts). Do the same thing as before, putting your spotter on an absorbent pad and placing the pad over the grease stain.

Step 6: Repeat the above step a few times as needed until the stain is completely gone.

How to Remove Grease Stains from Bedding

Your own body oils can create grease stains on your bedding. You don’t want to get rid of perfectly good bedding that’s just a little dirty-looking, but what can you do? It’s dishwashing detergent to the rescue to get rid of grease stains.

Step 1: Take a dollop of dishwashing detergent and apply it over the stain.

Step 2: Make a paste with equal parts non-chlorine booster and laundry detergent. Apply this over the stain.

Step 3: Saturate the stained part of the bedding in warm water and let it sit until the morning. Make sure you avoid using hot water, as that can destroy the integrity of certain fabrics.

Related Questions

Does WD-40 remove oil stains from clothes?

We suggested WD-40 to save your greasy jeans, but what about a cotton or polyester shirt? Attesting to its nature as a degreaser, WD-40 should work for those garments as well. Spritz the lubricant on both sides of the stain and see what a difference it should make.

Are oil stains permanent?

If you do spill grease or another type of oil on your clothes or carpeting, it’s important you don’t delay in cleaning it. Oil may dry bright at first, but beneath that brightened area is a darker portion of the stain that can settle in permanently.

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