How Can I Get an Oil Stain Out of Cotton Pants?

Don't let oil stains ruin your clothes.
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Greasy foods may taste delicious, but all that oil can spell disaster for your favorite clothes. If you drop a French fry on your pants, for example, the fabric quickly soaks up the grease like a sponge. Oil gets embedded in the fabric, so it's a challenge to get it back out. If your pants are made of cotton, though, you're in luck. Cotton can take more abuse than delicate fabrics, so it's safe to try a variety of stain-removal tactics on the fabric.

Dampen the oil-stained area with lukewarm water. Use enough water to soak all the way through the fabric.

Sprinkle flour, talcum powder, artificial sweetener, cornstarch, chalk dust or baby powder over the stain. If the oil has soaked through the fabric, turn the pants inside out and apply more powder to the stain. It's best to do this as soon as possible after the garment gets stained.

Let the powder soak into the stain and absorb the oil for a few minutes, then brush it off.

Rub a few drops of grease-cutting dish soap into both sides of the stain.

Place the stained fabric face-down on a paper towel. The paper towel will absorb some of the grease. Let the garment set for about five minutes.

Launder the pants in hot water with your usual laundry detergent. Allow the pants to air-dry.

Check for stains. If the oil remains, dab it with dry-cleaning solvent, then wash again.

  • Don't put the pants in the dryer until you're sure that the oil stain is gone. The dry heat may cause the stain to set permanently.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.