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How to Get Oil Stains Out of Polyester

In our house, doing the laundry is a chore that seems to never end. Laundry days drone on and on, and somehow we still manage to find errors in the science behind doing our laundry. From finding a surprise stubborn grease stain to accidentally drying the wrong material on high heat, laundry errors can have disastrously permanent effects.

In this article, we will discuss proven methods for how to get oil stains out of polyester safely and without causing damage. Unfortunately, there are some methods that may cause permanent damage to your polyester clothing, so you will want to join us as we discuss the methods that are safest for removing oil stains out of polyester.

How do Clothes get Oil Stains?

There are a variety of ways that clothes can wind up with oil stains on them. However, understanding where your oil stain comes from might actually help you to understand how to most effectively treat the stain. If you catch an oil stain before washing and drying the garment, for example, then you may be able to more easily remove the stain. For this reason, paying attention to the source of your oil stain can be beneficial in determining the best method for cleaning the stain.

Most obviously, polyester clothing can get an oil stain from the food you are cooking or eating. Most meats contain a certain amount of fat that produces oil and grease when cooked. Further, we often use oils or butter when cooking to help flavor our food and to keep it from sticking to our pots and pans. All of these factors can actually cause oil and grease to remain in your food once it is put on the dinner plate to eat. If you are not careful, you can get oil stains during cooking or while eating foods that contain oil.

Your washing machine is generally thought of as a thankless laborer within the walls of your home. This is why it actually may surprise you to know that your washing machine may be the culprit of sneaky oil stains found on your clothing. Over time, laundry detergent and fabric softener can cause a buildup to surface on the inside of your washing machine. This can cause oil and grease stains to surface on clean clothing. A more sinister issue may be caused by actual oil or grease leaking from the motor inside of your washing machine.

Why Does Oil Cling to Clothing?

Grease and oil stains are by far one of the most stubborn stains that the average adult has to deal with. Aside from being incredibly common, grease and oil stains are extraordinarily complicated to permanently remove from clothing. Even worse, if you wash and dry your polyester clothing without noticing a grease or oil stain, then you risk setting the stain into the clothing for good.

Grease is a natural lipid. Have you ever noticed how oils will separate from water when you are doing the dishes? This is because lipids are actually insoluble in water. This means that cleaning grease and oil stains out of your clothing is far more complicated than other stains. Water simply cannot combat the grease or oil stain.

For this reason, pre-treatment is absolutely the key to removing a grease or oil stain from your polyester clothing. Pre-treatments are solutions that are applied before the garment is washed in its normal cycle.

How to Get Oil Stains Out of Polyester and Household Items

Safely removing grease and oil stains from various fabrics is a delicate procedure that must be done with care. Using the wrong materials could damage the garment beyond repair. So, carefully reading about the proper procedures for cleaning grease stains from polyester clothing is essential to doing this correctly. Read through each of these cleaning tips to learn various methods for how to get oil stains out of polyester.

No matter which of the following techniques you choose to try, it is best to treat the stain as soon as you can. Waiting too long to manage the stain can cause the stain to set in the clothes, making it far more complicated to remove from your polyester clothing.

Use Paper Towels and Laundry Detergent

This method is especially effective if completed immediately after a stain is noticed. Of course, you want to make sure that you use a white paper towel and liquid laundry detergent. Begin by blotting the stain with a white paper towel. By doing this, you will absorb some of the excess grease and oil. You need to avoid rubbing the stain as this can actually cause the stain to set into the clothing.

Once you have removed the excess grease, you should prepare the clothing to go into the washing machine. Before washing the garment, you will need to apply liquid laundry detergent directly onto the stain. Inspect the garment before drying because the dryer may cause the stain to permanently set into the polyester clothing.

Dishwashing Soap

This is probably the most common method for cleaning grease from polyester clothing. Dish soap is designed to cut through grease and oil that we use to cook our foods. For this reason, dish soap can be incredibly effective at removing grease and oil from polyester clothing and other fabrics.

In order to use dish soap to remove grease from the fabric, place a small amount of dish soap directly onto the stain. Allow the stain to soak in the soap for 10 minutes and then proceed with laundering the clothes as directed on the washing instructions.

Spot Remover

You may also consider using a spot remover that can be found in your local store to remove grease and oil stains. These products are found near the laundry detergent and can be sprayed directly onto the stain to saturate it and then washed as usual. You may consider scrubbing the stain with an unused toothbrush to further work the formula into the stain.

Baby Powder, Cornstarch, Or Salt

If you catch a stain quickly enough, you can use household items that happen to be incredibly absorbent to remove a grease or oil stain from polyester clothing. Begin by blotting the stain with a plain white paper towel to absorb any excess grease and oil. Then simply liberally sprinkle the salt, baby powder, or cornstarch onto the stain. Allow the stain to sit for at least 15 minutes. Then, simply brush away the powder and wash the garment using the washing directions.

Removing Stains from Special Fabrics

Now that we have explored the most common methods for how to get oil stains out of polyester, we should take a look at other specific types of fabric.

No fabric is the same. Each different type of fabric will react with various treatments in extremely different ways. Before you try any of these solutions, you should check the care tags of your clothing to understand what type of fabric you are working with.


Cotton clothing and fabrics are actually quite easy to treat for grease stains.

  1. Lay the garment out flat on a clean, dry surface.
  2. Saturate the stain with liquid detergent
  3. Using the tip of your finger, gently massage the detergent into the stain
  4. Allow to sit for 10 minutes
  5. Follow the usual washing instructions


Linen fabrics are extremely common for tablecloths and have been experimented on for generations in the area of cleaning grease stains. While linens are typically more fragile than cotton fabrics, they are still easy to treat.

  1. Blot the stain with a white paper towel to remove excess grease.
  2. Sprinkle baby powder, cornstarch, or salt onto the stain.
  3. Allow the stain to sit with the powder for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Brush the excess powder off.
  5. If needed, follow up with dish soap and rinse in hot water.


Lucky for you, Nylon is a super tough fabric.

  1. Dip an unused toothbrush into dishwashing liquid.
  2. Scrub the grease stain with the toothbrush.
  3. Rinse the spot in the hottest water possible.
  4. Allow to dry. Repeat if necessary.

The Science of Laundry

If you want to truly understand your laundry, you must first understand the science that goes into the incredibly complicated task of cleaning your clothes. Unlike other household chores, dirt, grime, oil, and grease cannot be simply wiped away from the surface of your laundry.

Surfactants are agents that are added to laundry detergents in order to allow the water to reach the surface of your clothing. Surfactants actually change the behavior of a molecule of water allowing it to reach the grease, dirt, and oil that attaches to your clothing. Further, a surfactant aids the water in trapping these dirty particles and removes them from the clothing.

Essentially, water with the help of surfactants is able to reach into the fabric of your clothing and remove greasy particles from the surface of the clothing.

Cleaners with Surfactants

If you are looking for a cleaning product with an added surfactant to make washing your clothing a little more effective then we have compiled the list for you. Read about each of these surfactant cleaners below to learn how to get oil stains out of polyester.

Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser

We cannot speak for you, but we always love finding a cleaning product that will last a long time without the need to constantly restock the product. That is one of our favorite aspects of the Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser. This product comes in a 32-ounce bottle, but it holds the power to make 256 gallons of cleaner for your grease-stained clothing.

To use this cleaner on a grease stain, simply saturate the stain with the formula, let sit for 10 minutes, and then wash as directed on the care tag.

As an added bonus, this formula is also great to throw in with your regular loads of laundry to aid in removing dirt and grease from your daily clothing. This is also gentle enough to use on delicate fabrics. Simply wash by hand with the formula rather than throwing the garment into the washing machine.

Another great bonus for this particular product is that you can use it in a number of other ways beyond your laundry! It can be used for essentially any cleaning task that involves busting grease or oil. It truly is a great investment for your home.

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Champion Citrus Clean Multi-Purpose Cleaner

This is another great grease cleaner that has more than one use! This powerful fabric cleaner is best used for fabrics that require spot cleaning. This may include pet beds, pillows, furniture, or even rugs and carpet.

Before using this product place a small test spot on the fabric to test the reaction. Simply saturate the grease stain in this multi-purpose cleaner. Allow the cleaner to sit for around 10 minutes, and then scrub with a washcloth dampened with hot water. Repeat as necessary.

This cleaner has the added bonus of a fresh citrus scent.

Citrus Clean Banner 1


Champion Delicate Wash

Every once in a while, we purchase a special piece of clothing or a fancy table cloth. As hard as we try we can still come away from a dinner with a horrible oil stain. However, Champion Delicate Wash was designed for the delicate polyester fabric you are thinking of.

If you have delicate polyester garments that require washing on a delicate setting or in cold water, then this is the surfactant cleaner that you need for that occasion. Another great feature is that this detergent requires far less detergent per wash than typical leading brands.

You can use Champion Delicate Wash in the delicate cycle for washing delicate clothing in the washing machine. You can also use it for handwashing delicate garments if you have clothing that requires this special care. You probably want to allow these garments to air dry when you have finished washing them.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have read about how to get oil stains out of polyester, you are armed for caring for polyester clothing and fabrics properly. Remember to treat your stain as soon as you notice it. Cleaning a grease or oil stain quickly is essential for removing the stain fully from the clothing.

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