How to Remove Most Food and Grease Stains from Clothes

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For best results, try to remove stains right away.
For best results, try to remove stains right away. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Stains make clothes look sloppy and dirty, and can be difficult to get out without knowledge of proper removal techniques. Removing grease and oil stains from food or non-food sources requires different strategies than removing other food stains. Correct stain removal for food stains also varies depending on whether the stain is protein-based or from fruit and most beverages. For example, stains from wine, berries, coffee and jam require different stain removal techniques than stains from protein-based egg whites, pudding, baby formula, gelatin and sherbet.

Things You'll Need

  • For grease stains:
  • Paper towels
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Pretreatment stain remover
  • Hot water
  • Laundry detergent
  • For fruit and beverage stains:
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • Sponge or rag
  • Alcohol
  • Enzyme presoak product
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Laundry detergent
  • For protein stains:
  • Cool water
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Ammonia
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Laundry detergent

Grease Stains

Set the stained area of the fabric on top of absorbent paper towels if the fabric has a severe stain.

Cooking oils and other greases do not come out with regular laundering.
Cooking oils and other greases do not come out with regular laundering. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Apply dry cleaning solvent to the stain over the absorbent paper towels.

Let the stain dry.

Rinse the stain.

Soak the stain with a pretreatment stain remover and let it sit for about a minute.

Wash the garment as usual using the hottest water safe for the fabric, as Ohio State University experts suggest.

Fruit and Beverage Stains

Soak the fabric in cool or lukewarm water with 2 tsp. liquid detergent and 1 tbsp. white vinegar. Do not use regular soap, which can set the stain into the fabric.

Fruit and wine stains usually come out with detergent, vinegar and alcohol.
Fruit and wine stains usually come out with detergent, vinegar and alcohol. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Blot the stain with alcohol.

Soak the stain in a quart of water mixed with 1 tbsp. of an enzyme presoaking product.

Bleach the stain if the above steps did not remove it, but first check the garment label to see whether the fabric is bleach-safe.

Protein Stains

Soak the stain for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1/2 tsp. hand dishwashing detergent, 1 tbsp. ammonia and 1 quart lukewarm water.

Protein stains from dairy come out better with cold rather than hot water.
Protein stains from dairy come out better with cold rather than hot water. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Rub the stain to loosen it.

Soak the stain for 30 minutes in an enzyme presoak product.

Launder the clothes normally.

Bleach stubborn stains if the fabric is bleach-safe.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not attempt to rinse a protein stain in hot water, because the hot water can cook the protein and make it set into the fabric.

References

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