Oil Stain Removal
~Pooja Chakrabarty

The Basics of Oil Stain Removal

Oil repels water. Hence oil stain removal cannot be accomplished by washing the fabric with water and detergent. Different types of oil stains demand different kinds of treatment for oil stain removal. This article provides some pointers for oil stain removal in general, as well as for some specific types.

Before you start off on the process of oil stain removal, make it a point to read up on the fabric care instructions. Oil stains can come from as wide ranging a list of things as motor oil, oil-based make-up, grease, butter, and ointments, among other things.

Oil Stain Removal for Specific Kinds of Oils
For baby oil stain removal, you could rub the stain with a dishwashing liquid, and let it stand for about 15 minutes. After this, launder the fabric as usual in hot water. You could repeat the process if some of the stain remains. This treatment can be carried out for a variety of light oils such as sewing machine oil, hair oil, etc.

It is tougher to do motor grease or motor oil stain removal on non-washable fabrics

Fatty stains, butter stains, cream stains can be removed by washing the cloth in warm soapy water. However, if the cloth is non-washable, sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning fluid.

For heavy oils such as motor grease and motor oil, stain removal should be initiated by scraping off the excess oil from the fabric using a blunt knife. Washable fabrics would benefit if you rubbed Vaseline or lard into the stain. This would help moisten the stain. Alternatively you could use a pre-soaking treatment. Follow this up by washing the fabric in a good detergent, and rinse thoroughly.

It is tougher to do motor grease or motor oil stain removal on non-washable fabrics. The undersides of such stains should be treated with dry-cleaning fluids with the stained surface placed downward on paper towels to absorb the stain. Sponge the stain with a synthetic detergent, and wash with warm water.

Sometimes metal particles (like iron) may be mixed in the motor oil leading not only to oil, but also to rust stains.

Oil Stain Removal in General
In general, for lighter stains, you could soak the stained area in a suitable pre-treatment stain remover. Let it remain that way for some time. This would allow the stain remover to percolate through the stain, thereby loosening the bonds of the staining agent with the fabric. Follow this up by rubbing the stain with a strong detergent and then laundering as usual.

Residual oil stain removal can be done by using chlorine bleach, but first make sure that the fabric is bleach-safe. Test the fabric for colorfastness while you are at it.

Heavier oil stains should be placed with the stain facing downward on absorbent paper towels, while dry-cleaning fluid is applied to the back of the stain. This should be continued for as long as the stain soils the towels (which should be replaced frequently). The fabric should then be allowed to dry naturally. It should then be washed in hot water (as hot as is safe for that particular fabric), and should be followed by a thorough rinse.

This treatment works for most kinds of oil stains ranging from butter and mayonnaise to motor oil.

[The picture used in this article has been taken from the photo library of stock.xchng.]