Oil Removal on Sweaters

Don't let an oil stain ruin your favorite sweater.
Don't let an oil stain ruin your favorite sweater. (Image: Allen Simon/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

It only takes a second for cooking oil, hair oil or even motor oil to splash onto your clothing. Unfortunately, oil is one of the most challenging stains to remove from fabric because it is not water-soluble. If you notice an oil spot on your favorite sweater, you may be tempted to toss it in the rag pile. But with the right products and some patience, you can remove the oil spot and wear your sweater with pride.

Things You'll Need

  • Cornstarch, flour or talcum powder
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Cloth
  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • Towel

Remove the sweater immediately and lay it on a flat surface. Open a box of cornstarch, flour or talcum powder and sprinkle it liberally over the oil stain until you can no longer see it. Let the powder sit for 30 minutes to absorb as much of the oil as possible. Shake the sweater over a sink or a garbage can to remove the cornstarch.

Open a bottle of dishwashing liquid designed to cut grease. Squeeze a quarter-sized amount onto a soft cloth and dab the soap onto the sweater completely covering the oil spot. Let the soap sit undisturbed for five minutes.

Locate the care label on the sweater, which is often at the neck or along a side seam on the inside. Determine the temperature of water that is recommended and fill a washer with the hottest water allowable.

Insert the sweater into the washer and fill the washer with a cap full of laundry detergent designed to remove stubborn stains. Set the washer to the gentle cycle, close the lid and allow the wash cycle to complete.

Remove the sweater from the washer and lay it on top of an open bath towel on a flat surface. Allow the sweater to air dry, flipping it over after 30 minutes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instead of dishwashing liquid, you can pre-treat the oil stain with a laundry stain remover spray.
  • For best results, treat the oil stain as soon as possible after it occurs.
  • Don’t use hotter water than is recommended on the fabric care label, since it may shrink the sweater.
  • Do not place the sweater into the dryer, since this may also shrink it, making it unwearable.
  • Do not hang the sweater on a clothes hanger to dry, since this can stretch the shoulders.

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