How to get grease stains out of clothes

Learn how to get grease stains out of clothes and save your favourite garment

How to get grease stains out of clothes
(Image credit: Getty)

Oh grease stains – is there anything more annoying than tucking into a nice burger, only to find your favourite blouse with a big fat mayo/beef fat stain on it? Grease stains can be very difficult to get out of clothing, and the thinner the fabric, the harder it is. Timing is always of essence with removing grease stains (blot, blot, and blot!), but if you've noticed the stain after it's settled, there still are cleaning tricks you can try to get rid of it. 

Get more cleaning tips at our hub page. 

1. The washing-up liquid grease stain removal method

After all, washing up liquid is formulated to cut through grease from food, so it can be very effective on grease stains, particularly if you're working on tougher garments like coats and jackets, or thicker cotton. Simply blot a little washing-up liquid and let it sit on the stain for 1- minutes. Remove with a damp cloth. 

2. The baking soda/starch method

Another effective way to remove grease stains is by sprinkling the stain with baking soda, starch, or corn flour. These powders will work by absorbing the grease, and all you need to do is brush off the excess afterwards. However, this method tends to be more effective on fresh grease stains than old and dried ones. 

3. The ammonia/ steam cleaner method

If you do have a dried grease stain, you need to bring out the heavy guns – namely, ammonia. Ammonia has an extremely alkaline chemical profile (pH o 11.6), which is perfect for treating organic stains that are acidic in nature (mayonnaise has a pH of 3.6, for example). Use very sparingly, as it's strong stuff, and never on delicate or non colourfast garments. Blot a little ammonia in, then apply steam from a steam cleaner, blotting away the rest of the stain as you go.

4. Best stain removers for grease stains

If all these methods sound a bit too time-consuming, you can just chuck your grease-stained clothing item into the wash, onto the hottest temperature the fabric will tolerate, but you'll likely find that the stain won't budge even after washing. To have any success with laundering out a grease stain, you'll need to pre-treat it with a stain remover; Vanish Oxi Action is still the most effective stain remover to the job, from all the different ones we've tried: you can either put it on the stain before washing and work it in, or you can add it to your laundry detergent and select you washing machine's pre-wash/stain removal cycle. 

5. How to remove grease stains from delicate fabrics

If you've got a grease stain on a silk garment/thin synthetic one, you can't use any of the methods above, sadly, apart from, with caution, the washing-up liquid one. Sadly, if you have a grease stain on a silk shirt, you'll have to accept that it's there for good; it may diminish over time with laundering, but is unlikely to completely disappear. If you notice the stain while it's still fresh, you should be able to blot away most of it, but again, if the grease has soaked through the silk thread, it's likely to be permanent.