Grease stain removal can be tricky, depending on what type of material is stained and how long the stain has been sitting without treatment. Fortunately, even the toughest grease stains can be removed with the proper care.
Causes of Grease Stains
Grease can easily stain any number of fabrics and surfaces, from clothing and linens to carpeting, upholstery, and even concrete. There are many things that can cause grease stains, including:
- Food spills, such as cooking oil and fried foods
- Mechanical lubricants, such as axle grease or motor oil
- Oil-based cosmetics, creams, and lotions
Grease Stain Removal Steps
With so many causes of grease stains, understanding proper stain removal is essential to keep your clothing, fabrics, and other household items looking their best. How you remove a grease stain, however, depends on what surface the grease was spilled on.To remove grease stains from durable fabrics:
- Clean up any excess grease as quickly as possible to minimize the size of the stain. Use the blunt edge of a knife to scrape thick grease off the surface, or blot liquid grease with a clean, white paper towel to remove excess.
- Absorb as much grease as possible by sprinkling a thick layer of cornstarch, baby powder, or baking soda over the spill. Work the powder gently into the fabric and let it sit for several hours or overnight, then shake out the powder or vacuum it up to remove as much grease as possible.
- Apply dish soap to the stain and work it into the fabric slightly. Let the soap sit for several minutes, but do not let it dry out. Specialized grease removal cleaners or a solution of half ammonia and half water can also be effective.
- Launder the fabric as recommended, using the hottest possible water temperature that the fabric can stand.
- Check that the stain is completely removed, and retreat the stain if necessary. If the stain cannot be seen on damp fabric, let the fabric air dry to check for the stain. Do not put the fabric through the dryer, as this will set the stain and make it much more difficult to remove.
To remove grease stains from delicate fabrics:
- Gently blot the stain with a clean, white paper towel to remove as much excess grease as possible. Do not scrape the fabric, as this could stretch or distort delicate fibers.
- If the fabric is machine washable, treat the stain as indicated above for durable fabrics, paying special attention to the fabric's care instructions.
- If the fabric must be dry cleaned, do not attempt to treat the stain yourself. Instead, have it professionally cleaned, and notify the cleaner about the stain so they can treat it appropriately.
To remove grease stains from carpet:
- Remove as much of the grease from the carpet as possible by scraping it up or blotting with a clean, white paper towel.
- Absorb more grease by sprinkling a layer of corn starch, talcum powder, or baking soda over the stained area. Use a soft bristle brush to work the powder gently into the carpet, and let the powder sit for several hours before vacuuming.
- Make a solution of half water, half ammonia and add a small squirt of dish soap to it. Spray the carpet liberally with this solution and allow it to sit for a few minutes, but do not allow it to dry.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum or steam cleaner to remove the ammonia solution and the grease along with it.
To remove grease stains from concrete:
- Use newspaper or paper towels to blot up as much of the grease as possible without spreading it to a larger area.
- Sprinkle a thick layer of kitty litter over the stain and leave it sit for several hours or overnight.
- Sweep up the litter and discard.
- If the stain persists, scrub the area with a strong dish soap or laundry soap solution and rinse thoroughly. A thick layer of oven cleaner topped with plastic wrap can be left on the stain overnight to remove it as well.
- Grease stain removal is much easier when the stain is fresh. Treat stains as quickly as possible for the best results.
- Always read and follow the care instructions for fabrics when attempting stain removal from clothes and upholstery. If you are uncertain about the proper care, test the stain removal technique in an inconspicuous area first to check for colorfastness.
- Grease stains can spread easily, so work from the outside edge of the stain to the center to be sure you cover the entire area without making it larger.
Avoiding Grease Stains
The best way to keep your clothing, carpets, and other surfaces free of grease stains is to avoid grease spills in the first place.
- Position rugs in front of a stovetop to catch grease spatters before they reach the floor.
- Always wear an apron to protect your clothing from spills and stains while cooking.
- When working with greasy materials, wear old clothing that can be discarded.
- Use properly sized pans and lids to prevent grease spatters while cooking.
- Position a drip pan or layers of newspaper underneath cars to catch oil drip and leaks.
- Put makeup on before getting dressed to avoid spills on clothing.
Once you know how to do it properly, grease stain removal can be easy and effective. No matter what type of surface you are trying to clean, it is possible to remove most grease stains without damage or discoloration.