Perhaps you were eating a delicious plate of pasta aglio e olio and got a little carried away while twirling the spaghetti. Or maybe you were frying up some delicious fish fritters and got spattered with oil. Regardless of how it happened you now have a big fat olive oil stain on your shirt, dress, or pants and aren’t really sure what to do about it.
Well fear not, and definitely don’t throw that garment away. It just needs a little TLC to get back to its former glory.
In this article, you will learn you how to get olive oil out of clothes.
Why does olive oil stain?
Olive oil is a fat made of triglycerides, which are molecules made up of fatty acids. Fat does not mix well with water. At least not with cold water.
In fact, exposing a fat stain to cold water can cause it to become darker or more repellant to rinsing because it's not water soluble. Therefore, the stain requires something that can cut through the fat.
How to get olive oil out of clothes
The fastest and most efficient way to get olive oil out of clothes is with a dish soap, such as Dawn. It's just like when you’re washing dishes and you need something that will easily cut through the fat leftover from food.
You can do this by adding a bit of soap to the garment and letting it sit or scrubbing with a brush or your hands. Work the soap into the stain so it will really help break down the fat. Then rinse the area. If the stain is very large or has set you might have to do this several times.
But before you add soap, it's important to clear the area of any excess oil. You can do this by adding a bit of baking soda to absorb the oil. Since baking soda is alkaline it helps to break down fat. If it's a very large stain you may want to also dab at it with a paper towel but be careful not to push down because this can result in pushing the oil further into the garment resulting in deeper staining.
Steps by step guide:
- Dab any excess oil off the garment using a paper towel.
- Apply a generous amount of dish soap. Allow the soap to absorb for several minutes.
- Scrub the area with a toothbrush or rub in the soap using your hand. Add a little bit of warm water as you scrub.
- If possible, rinse with warm or hot water.
- Repeat this process several times if the stain is especially bad or has set.
- Wash the garment as you normally would.
Hot vs Cold Water
If possible, use warm or hot water to remove olive oil from clothes. This is because oil and cold water do not mix. In fact, the product is very water repellant and the colder the temperature the thicker it becomes. In fact, olive oil solidifies at 43°F, which is why you shouldn't store it in the fridge.
If you have a garment that will shrink in warm or hot water you can try using a degreasing spray and room temperature water. However, be careful if the garment is delicate.
For removing olive oil out of delicate garments such as silk you can apply as gentle soap directly to the area, such as The Laundress. However, if it's a very nice coat, or extremely delicate fabric then you might be better off taking it to the dry cleaner ASAP. This way you won't risk ruining the item.
Meat vs fat vs color stains
There are many different types of stains. The most common in our house are olive oil, meat, or color stains. These should all be treated differently. However, some stains are more complex because they are a combination of several types of stains. An example of this is a stain from a bolognese sauce which is technically a fat, meat, and color stain.
Do not machine dry
Whatever you do, do not machine dry a garment that has a stain on it. This also includes allowing a garment to dry in the sun. It will set the stain and become nearly impossible to get out.
What do I do if the stain isn't coming out?
Sometimes you simply cannot get an olive oil stain out. And that's okay, you did your very best... But now it's time for the professionals. Take the garment to the dry cleaner and let them take care of it.
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