How to Get Butter or Oil Stains Out of Clothes

We’ve all been there – you accidentally smear some butter on your shirt instead of your toast, or your ghee splatters out of the pan and onto your favorite jeans. Headache ensues.

But don’t fret! Although butter or ghee stains can be difficult to get out due to its greasy composition, it’s not impossible! In fact, cooking oils aren’t even considered the most difficult to remove because their chemical makeup is mostly triglycerides. These molecules are emulsified by the surfactants in laundry detergent during the wash, which makes it more likely that the stain will be removed, especially after proper pretreating.

These techniques will help you tackle those dreaded oil stains. Just remember that the key is to act quickly!  

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What You’ll Need

  • Liquid dish soap or stain remover
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent
  • White clean cloth or soft-bristle brush

Blot Gently

Timing is everything so try to act as soon as you notice the stain. Remove any excess butter or ghee and gently blot the area to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Try to avoid rubbing or you risk pushing the stain further into the fabric.

Very small stains may not require pretreating and can be washed right after blotting. Just be sure not to dry the fabric until you’re 100% sure the stain is gone (more on that below).

Use Stain Remover or Dish Soap

After blotting, pretreat the stain with a stain removal product. Be sure to follow the label instructions and make sure the product is suitable for the fabric type.

If you don’t have a stain remover, then you can apply a small amount of dish soap (Dawn works best) directly onto the stain with some water and gently rub the fabric together. You can also use a soft-bristle brush to work the detergent into the stain. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes for small stains or at least 15 minutes or large stains before washing.

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Wash as Normal

After pretreating, wash the fabric as per the label instructions. Use the hottest water setting recommended for the fabric type.

Carefully inspect the stained area after washing. Keep in mind that oil/grease stains can be more difficult to see on wet fabric, so it may be best to let the fabric air dry. If you put the fabric into the dryer before the stain is gone then you risk setting the stain into the fabric permanently.

For Stubborn Stains

If you can still see the stain after washing then you can try baking soda. Sprinkle a bit onto the affected area and gently scrub with a damp cloth or soft-bristle brush. Wash the fabric again on the same setting and air dry before inspecting.

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Get Help from the Pros

For very delicate fabrics or extremely tough stains, you can try taking your fabric to a dry cleaner. They have the expertise and specialized techniques to deal with hard-get-out stains without harming your garment.

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