Clothes Stained With Oil

Powder applied to the epic amount of olive oil that splashed on these pants.

It was a Saturday night, a typical evening with plans to visit my mother-in-law for dinner.  I arrived late to to her apartment only to find both she and my husband Frank hovering over my mother-in-law’s bed, silent.  I could feel the panic in the air, smelled the odor of baby powder wafting from her bedroom, viewed my husband in just his boxers and knew immediately that something major, with possible irreversible consequences, was going on that involved a stain, a big one.

Turns out I was right.  As I was told, my husband walked into my mother-in-law’s kitchen just as she dropped an entire container of olive oil all over the floor and it splashed up and down the leg of his pants.  Now, my husband, who works in real estate and needs to wear a suit everyday, happened to have worked that Saturday and was (as luck would have it) wearing one of his best suits when the “Great Oil Spill of 2012” happened in his mother’s kitchen.   You can see from the photo that this wasn’t just an oil spot, it was an oil tidal wave.  His entire pant leg was soaked.

The best solution for clothes stained with oil

The smart thing that was going on when I walked in on the scene was the baby powder application.  It is a tried and true trick and one of the few ways to actually get oil out of clothes stained with oil.  How it is applied is crucial, however.  You don’t just sprinkle a little powder (cornstarch, baking powder or any other powder product also works), you douse the fabric with powder, work the oil into the stain and then shake off the remainder– almost like how you used to apply glitter to glue projects when you were a kid.  After you shake it off, you look at the stains again, work more powder into the stain if the oil looks like it has already absorbed the powder and keep going with this method until the oil stains are generously covered.  You want to work in the powder but don’t rub too hard.

Clothes Stained With Oil

Oil Free Pants after Powder and a Good Dry Cleaner

Next, you want to let the powder do its job.  Don’t immediately throw your piece into the laundry (or in our case send to the dry cleaner), the powder needs time to soak up the stain and really get into the fibers.  For us, we waited about 24 hours, but I’ve heard a longer sit time is sometimes necessary.

Now, I can’t credit the powder method alone to why my husband’s pants are now oil free.  I took the pants to the dry cleaner who must have some sort of magic detergent and even he snorted a bit when he saw the disaster that was my husband’s pants.  However, when I picked them up today, they were free of any stains whatsoever.

This oil mess was of great discussion on my FB Page and I got some other suggestions from fans that they believe also get out oil stains including using cream of tartar and vinegar, Shout in an aerosol can which was recommended by a massage therapist who often gets massage oil stains on her clothes, dish soap that cuts grease for washing machine safe clothes not dry clean only garments, and chalk.  I’ve not tried any of those methods but thought they were share-worthy.