Oil is a versatile substance. It can be transformed and implemented for a variety of uses, from automobiles to cooking depending on the form that you purchase it in.
No matter what the case, getting it in your clothes can be problematic.
When you’re around oil for long enough, there’s little doubt that it will get into your clothing. The bad part about this is that the oil can permeate your clothing and create a lasting, unpleasant smell that lingers around the fabric.
Even with laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners, you may not be resolving the problem.
Sure, it may help the smell initially, but if you can’t remove the oil deep within the clothing, the smell will rear its ugly head at some point.
To make matters worse, the oils in the fabric of your clothing can rub against other fabrics and contaminate them. It can smell like oil and grease has spread throughout your entire wardrobe.
This is because the oil particles, microscopic in nature, can travel several feet through the air and embed itself in the fabrics.
Water generally struggles to get the oil out, but there are things that can be done before your clothing ends up in the trash.
There are a huge range of options that you can use. Some of them will require but a single ingredient while others will require a concoction to effectively remove the problem.
Here are a few things that you can attempt to use to get that pesky oil smell out of your clothing.
Stay Away From Low-Quality Detergent
It is understandable that most households are on budgets. Looking for savings anywhere possible is a normal way of life.
But paying less for a lower-quality detergent will bite you in the rear end when it comes to stain removal.
If you tend to get heavy-duty stains, such as oil and grease, that occur on a regular basis, you’re wasting your time and money.
Low-quality detergents won’t get the job done and will more often wear down your clothing rather than provide a deep clean.
High-quality laundry detergents cost more but there is an excellent reason for this.
1 – Bleach
Bleach is like the bazooka of the cleaning world. It is meant for heavy-duty situations and it may leave some collateral damage, but it will get the job done.
Bleach is generally only used in the most extreme situations to ensure that the toughest of stains come out.
Bleach is a great stain remover so long as it is used responsibly.
Going too heavy with it can lead to your clothes having noticeable bleach stains when all is said and done.
Adding a little bit of bleach to your whites in particular can leave them looking brighter than ever and should get rid of that pesky oil smell that has become so prevalent.
2 – Heavy-Duty Laundry Detergents
The first and probably easiest place to start is by using a heavy-duty laundry detergent.
This is because they have been specially formulated to get out the tougher stains in our lives, including oil and grease stains that can be all too common.
The difference between heavy-duty detergents and the regular kind that you would use on the rest of your clothing is that it has additional enzymes included to break down things such as oil and grease that can become trapped in the fabric.
It also doesn’t hurt to use pre-treat on the tougher stains as well. This allows for the stain to begin being broken down before it even gets into the laundry.
With the toughest possible stains, any additional help can go a long, long way toward getting rid of that smell.
3 – White Vinegar
A commonly used household cleaner is white vinegar. It has natural agents that break down even the deepest of stains.
The acid in the vinegar works to break down the deep dirt, grease, and oil particles that can get stuck within the fabric of the clothing.
Make sure to use distilled vinegar, though. Too much of the acid can damage the clothing, wearing down the coloring in the process.
That’s not even mentioning the very strong smell that vinegar produces which can permeate your clothing as well.
Generally speaking, all you need is about a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to get the job done. Add it into the rinse cycle of your next wash to reduce any odors from sticking to your fabric.
4 – Use a Can of Coke
What may surprise you is that a can of Coke can help you to remove those pesky oil stains that can damage and permeate your clothing.
Pour the can of Coke into the washing machine with your clothes and whatever regular laundry detergent that you normally use.
It is the acid of the Coke that works to break down particularly tough particles, particularly those of grease and oil.
It will also work to lift particularly difficult stains that you may be having a difficult time removing.
Best of all, it is not only completely safe to use on your clothes, but it also has no environmental impact and is totally safe for use around kids and pets.
If you’ve been struggling with difficult oil stains, give a can of Coke a try. You may be surprised at just how effective a solution this is.
5 – Ammonia
Ammonia is another very powerful cleaning agent that needs to be handled with care.
Ammonia is also a very powerful degreaser that can help break down and remove any stubborn oil and grease stains that may be stuck in your clothing.
If you aren’t using bleach, try adding about a cup of ammonia into your wash cycle. It will not only break down the oil and grease stains, but leave your clothing smelling better than it did before.
There are even different types of ammonia that have different scents like lemon. This is because it not only smells better, but the acidity of the citrus can help to fight those stubborn odors and stains.
Ammonia is extremely potent, and its fumes are not to be inhaled under any circumstances.
Use a small amount for any stains and give it proper time to ventilate. Those fumes can burn your respiratory tract and sinuses if you don’t exercise extreme care.
6 – Dish Soap
When we’re talking about cleaners, it kind of only makes sense that a kitchen cleaner would work at getting out oil and grease stains.
The key is to dilute the dish soap. You can use any kind of dish soap that you want, but Dawn dish soap tends to work the best.
Start by mixing in a quarter-cup of the dish soap with a couple gallons of water. Soak the garment in the mixture for around 30 minutes, gently mixing here and there over the duration.
The soap works to eventually break down the oil and grease stains.
You can avoid contact with your hands by using something such as a large wooden spoon or some other kind of mixing tool that will stir the clothing throughout the mixture.
Be sure to allow ample time for the soap mixture to soak into the clothing.
After the soaking process has completed, it is time to transfer the garment into the washing machine.
Dawn in particular is formulated to break up oil and grease, making it a very impactful stain remover. It can even remove motor oil, which is notorious for staining clothes of all kinds.
Be careful not to use too much of the dish soap, however. Washing machines do not handle overly sudsy soaps very well and liquid dish soaps can get quite sudsy.
Overuse can damage your washer or, in extreme cases, result in the need for a new unit.
7 – Borax
Borax is another cleaning agent meant for the more extreme stains and odors that can collect on clothing.
You’ll want to mix just a tablespoon of the Borax for every gallon of warm water that you use.
Like you would with the dish soap mixture, give it about 30 minutes to properly soak.
When the mixture has finished soaking, dump the entirety of the bucket – water and all – into the washing machine.
Borax works because it is alkaline in nature. This property works to neutralize the acidity of the stains themselves.
It also works to change the pH level of the washing water. This helps make the laundry detergent far more effective at breaking down difficult stains.
You can even start by simply adding a half-cup of Borax into your laundry. This should help to improve the smell of your clothes, the ones that have not been soaked in oil.
The only danger is in the handling of pure Borax. It can potentially burn your eyes, skin, or insides if you get Borax in your eyes or ingest it.
It is also a bad idea to have Borax around your children or pets.
8 – Pine-Sol or Lestoil
If you plan on going this route, pour just a little of the chemical onto the oil and grease stains. Scrub them thoroughly into the fibers using a small cleaning brush with soft bristles, something like an old toothbrush.
When you have finished scrubbing the Lestoil or Pine-Sol into the stain, give it 20 minutes to sit before putting it into the washing machine.
You can also add these cleaners right into the washing water for a general cleaning purpose. Both of these cleaners have a pine scent to them and are all-purpose cleaners.
Both make for equally strong detergents that are meant to remove the toughest of stains.
If one ingredient isn’t working out so well, there are a couple of concoctions that will work just as well and the majority of them involve household cleaning agents of some sort.
9 – Baking Soda and White Vinegar
One of the most common household cleaning concoctions is baking soda and vinegar.
This is due to the acidic nature of the vinegar in combination with the power of the baking soda to absorb and lift tough stains and odors.
You can even use this mixture in place of traditional laundry detergents. Just mix a cup of both together into a small tub and add it into your mixture, using just enough water to cover the clothes and giving them a good stir for about 30 seconds.
Give the solution around four hours to soak so that the acid can break down the stains and the baking soda can lift them up.
When the four hours is up, you can then put the entire mix into the washing machine and run your load as you normally would.
10 – Don’t Discount Pre-Wash
Pre-wash is something that can help to break down the stains before the laundry detergent gets added to the mix. It is an extra boost of stain-fighting power that is great for the toughest of stains.
There are a wide variety of pre-wash treatments, some stronger than others.
There is a specific soap used by mechanics called GOJO hand cleaner. This is meant for tough, oily stains that mechanics deal with on a regular basis.
Before adding your oily clothes to the washing machine, rub in some pre-wash on those particularly difficult spots.
The best type of pre-wash cleaners won’t require water and should contain lanolin.
Lanolin is the agent that breaks down the stain before it hits the wash. In tandem with the laundry detergent, the pre-wash should be enough to break down even the toughest of oil stains.
Oil stains can become fairly common, especially if you work in an industry that puts you in situations with a lot of oil or grease.
Instead of letting that smell permeate your clothing and ultimately ruin them, implement a few stain and odor-fighting methods that can get greater longevity out of your clothing.
It may take a few different implementations to fully get the oil smell out of your clothes, but you can leave them smelling better than ever before and prolong their life as well.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies…I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house.