How to Get Grease Stains Out of Jeans

Getting grease stains out of jeans can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and products, you can often restore your denim to its original glory. Whether you’ve spilled oil while cooking or come into contact with grease at work, tackling grease stains promptly improves your chances of success. We’ll walk through everything you need to know to remove grease stains from jeans and other denim clothing items.

Understanding Grease and Oil Stains

Before diving into stain removal methods, it helps to understand what exactly causes grease and oil stains so you can target them more effectively.

Grease and oil contain fatty acids that bind to fabric fibers. This is what causes the stain. The longer the grease or oil sits, the more it soaks in and bonds. Heat can also set in stains.

Common culprits for grease stains on jeans include:

  • Cooking oils like vegetable, canola, olive, etc.
  • Motor oil or lubricants
  • Makeup and cosmetics
  • Butter, lard, or bacon grease

The composition of the grease or oil impacts how easy it will be to remove from the denim fibers. For example, plant-based oils like olive oil are easier to treat than mineral oils.

Grease stains may appear as:

  • Glossy spots
  • Darker areas of discoloration
  • Translucent splotches

The faster you can treat a fresh stain, the better. Avoid applying heat and letting the stain set.

Pre-Treating Grease Stains on Jeans

Pre-treating is a key step for grease stain removal. Pre-treating involves applying a stain-fighting solution directly to the stain to help break down the grease before laundering.

Dish Soap

One of the most effective pre-treaters for grease on jeans is regular dish soap or dish detergent. Apply a few drops directly to the stain and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The surfactants in dish soap help detach oily grease from fabric.

Baking Soda

For a more abrasive pre-treatment, make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently rub the paste into the stain using a toothbrush or cloth, allowing it to sit for 10-15 minutes before laundering as usual. The alkaline baking soda helps degrease the denim fibers.

Laundry Pre-Treatment Sprays

Look for laundry pre-treatment sprays or sticks formulated for grease at the grocery store or on Amazon. Spray or roll onto the stain according to package directions before washing. Many contain surfactants and solvents tailored to cutting through oils.

Shout or Spray ‘N Wash

Shout and Spray ‘N Wash are two popular stain remover sprays found in most households. Check the label and confirm they state effectiveness against oil/grease. Spray liberally over the stain and massage in prior to washing.

No matter the pre-treatment used, allow it time to penetrate and work before laundering. 10-15 minutes is ideal.

Washing Grease-Stained Jeans

The next phase is proper laundering to remove any residue after pre-treating.

Hot Water

Wash grease-stained jeans in the hottest water safe for the fabric. The heat helps dissolve and release oily stains. Check your jeans’ care tag before using extremely hot water. Warm or hot is ideal for most denim.

Extra Detergent

Use an extra dose of laundry detergent, like 2-3x the normal amount. Detergents contain surfactants that cut through greasy oil, so more is better for these stains. Liquid detergents are ideal.

Oxygen Bleach

Adding an oxygen bleach like OxiClean to the wash can further help lift stained areas and brighten the denim. Avoid using chlorine bleach on colored denim.

Extra Rinse Cycle

Run jeans through an extra rinse cycle after washing to remove all traces of detergent and pre-treatment. This prevents residue from attracting dirt over time.

Air Dry

After the thorough wash, allow jeans to air dry fully. Avoid drying grease-stained jeans in high heat, as it could set in any remaining stain. The heat could also cause discoloration.

Hand-Washing Grease Stains

If the ‘ole washing machine isn’t cutting it, give hand-washing a try:

Bowl or Sink Basin

Fill a basin or bowl with warm water and a heavy dose of liquid detergent. For extra power against grease, add a splash of dish soap.


Submerge the stained area of jeans in the soapy water mix. Allow to soak for 15-30 minutes, gently massaging the fabric every so often. This gives time for the detergents to penetrate.

Rinse & Repeat

Drain the dirty wash water and refill the basin with clean water. Rinse the jeans thoroughly. Repeat the soak and rinse cycle as needed until stain is removed.

Air Dry

After hand-washing, lay jeans flat or hang to air dry fully before wearing or tossing back in the laundry.

How to Remove Old, Set-In Grease Stains

The sooner you treat a grease stain, the easier it’ll be to remove from jeans. But with some persistence, you can still tackle older, set-in stains:

  • Pre-treat the area liberally before washing. Really work the dish soap, baking soda paste, or spray into the fibers.
  • For heavy stains, try laying jeans in direct sunlight. The UV rays in sunlight help break down oil discoloration.
  • Repeat wash cycles as needed, using hot water and extra detergent each time. It may take several washes.
  • Consider using a laundry booster or amped up detergent like Persil Powercream for stuck-on stains.
  • After washing, blot lingering stains with an absorbent cloth and rubbing alcohol. The alcohol helps cut grease.
  • If a faint stain remains, apply lemon juice and lay jeans in the sun. The acidity and sunlight together target the blemish.
  • For really stubborn oil stains, take jeans to a professional dry cleaner. Their industrial solvents remove difficult stains.

With repeated treatment, even longtime grease stains on beloved jeans can eventually be removed.

How to Remove Different Types of Grease Stains

Not all greases and oils will stain and clean up the same way. Here are tips for some common grease varieties:

Cooking Oil Stains

  • Pre-treat with dish soap, which emulsifies cooking oils.
  • Soak in very hot water before washing.
  • Use heavy duty detergent and add baking soda for extra degreasing power.
  • For older stains, apply vinegar and scrub with a brush before washing. The acid in vinegar cuts oil.

Motor Oil / Automotive Grease Stains

  • Generously cover stain in talcum powder or cornstarch before washing. This soaks up grease.
  • Use a laundry detergent made for greasy auto shop rags, like Greased Lightning or Sard.
  • Try spraying WD-40 on the stain prior to washing. The solvents help dissolve motor oil residue.
  • For stains that resist washing, use an oil stain remover like Carbona or Krud Kutter.

Lipstick / Makeup Grease Stains

  • Apply a makeup remover like Micellar water before washing. Massage it into the stain.
  • Use a short wash cycle with cold water to avoid setting in makeup stains.
  • Make a paste from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Rub onto stain and let sit before washing.
  • For lingering stains, try rubbing with white chalk before laundering. The chalk helps absorb discoloration.

Butter, Lard, and Bacon Grease Stains

  • Soak in very hot, soapy water before washing. The heat melts fats.
  • Pre-treat with vinegar or lemon juice – acids break down fatty oils.
  • If stain remains, lay jeans in direct sunlight which degrades food oils.
  • For set-in stains, gently rub with a bar soap paste before washing.

Salad Dressing and Marinade Stains

-Blot up excess staining liquid immediately.
-Pre-treat with dish soap or baking soda scrub.
-Spray stained area thoroughly with WD-40 before washing. The solvents cut through oils and vinegar.
-For stubborn stains, make a paste from meat tenderizer containing papain or bromelain enzymes. This breaks down proteins.

How to Keep Jeans from Getting Grease Stains

A little prevention goes a long way to keeping jeans looking their best and avoiding grease stains:

  • Wear an apron or cover up when cooking and grilling with oil.
  • Apply a protectant spray like Scotchgard to make denim more oil and grease resistant.
  • Avoid contact with greasy machinery and oils while wearing your favorite jeans.
  • Hang jeans inside out in direct sunlight regularly. The UV rays help dislodge oils.
  • Wash jeans on a regular basis as grease can still accumulate over time with wear.
  • Immediately change out of jeans if they come into contact with oils and greases.
  • Keep jeans away from open oven doors when baking foods with butter and oil to avoid spatters.
  • Treat any minor grease stains as soon as possible by spot cleaning.

With the right mix of pre-treatment, cleaning methods, and preventative care, grease doesn’t stand a chance against your favorite denim. Armed with these tips, you can keep jeans looking like new.

Common Questions About Removing Grease Stains from Jeans

Can I use bleach to remove grease stains from jeans?

Avoid using chlorine bleach on colored denim as it can damage dyes and lead to discoloration or fading. For tough grease stains on white denim, bleach may be effective but test a hidden area first. Oxygen bleach is safer for colors.

How do you get grease stains out of black jeans?

Treat grease on black jeans promptly since stains can be harder to remove after they set. Pre-treat with dish soap then wash with hot water, extra detergent, and oxygen bleach. For stubborn stains, lay in sunlight then rinse with vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

How do you get old grease stains out of jeans?

First pre-treat the area thoroughly. Soak in hot, soapy water for 30 minutes or more. Repeat wash cycles with heavy detergent, adding laundry booster for stuck-on stains. Try blotting with rubbing alcohol. For tough set-in grease, lay jeans in direct sunlight then take them to the dry cleaner.

How do you get cooking oil stains out of jeans?

The key is to act fast before the oil has time to set. Try dish soap, baking soda scrub, or cornstarch to pre-treat. Wash with very hot water and extra detergent. For cooked-in stains, soak in vinegar then scrub with a brush before washing. Multiple cycles may be needed.

Should you wash grease stained jeans in cold or hot water?

Wash grease-stained jeans in the hottest water safe for the fabric, according to the care label. The heat helps dissolve and release oily stains. Detergent also works best in warm or hot water. Just avoid extremely hot water on delicate denim.

Why do my jeans still have grease stains after washing?

If stains remain after washing, the grease has likely penetrated the denim fibers and needs further treatment. Try laying jeans out in direct sunlight then repeat laundering with hot water and added stain-fighting boosters. For heavy staining, take to the dry cleaners.

How do you get salad oil stains out of jeans?

First blot up excess oil immediately after spill. Pre-treat by applying dish soap or baking soda paste. Generously spray staining area with WD-40 before washing. Use hot water, extra detergent, and an oxygen bleach. Repeat cycles as needed. For stubborn stains, use meat tenderizer paste.

What is the best way to hand wash grease out of jeans?

Fill a basin with warm water and heavy dose of liquid detergent plus dish soap. Soak jeans 15-30 minutes, massaging fabric. Drain and refill with clean water. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat soak and rinse until grease is removed. Lay flat or hang to fully air dry.

Why do my jeans turn shiny after washing out grease stains?

If jeans appear shiny or darker after treating grease stains, there may still be oil residue left behind. Try repeating washes with hot water and extra detergent. Run an extra rinse cycle. Avoid over-drying. The heat can set in grease. Air drying is best.


Removing grease stains from jeans takes a bit of work, but armed with the right techniques almost any fresh or set-in stain can be conquered. By pre-treating with agents like dish soap or baking soda, washing with ample hot water and extra detergent, and taking steps to break down oil residue, you can restore jeans to their original look. Acting quickly when stains occur and taking preventative measures like wearing an apron while cooking can also save your denim. With some persistence, keeping jeans grease-free is certainly possible.