How to get grease stains out of clothes

Don’t you hate it when your favourite shirt gets a big, obvious grease stain right in the middle of it?  I’m not sure what I’ve been doing lately, but I have stained two of my favourite sweaters pretty much in exactly the same spots.

grease stain on red sweater grease stain on pink sweater

I didn’t know how to get grease stains out of clothes, so I tried running them through the wash a few times but I had no luck.  I wrote them off as clothes that I could only wear around the house, until I came across an image on Pinterest that suggested using chalk to get out the grease stain.

sidewalk chalk for grease stains on sweater

I don’t have any chalk, but with an almost 3 year old running around the house, I do have tons of sidewalk chalk!  So I assumed it was the same stuff and I pulled out a white stick of sidewalk chalk to give it a try.

rubbing sidewalk chalk into grease stain

You can see in the photo above that the stain really absorbed the chalk when I rubbed it in.  I rubbed the chalk on both the front and the back of the sweaters and tried to work it in as best as I could.

coloured clothes in washing machine

I put the sweaters on the delicate cycle with my other coloured sweaters, using regular Tide as the detergent, and I hung them to dry.

grease stain on red sweater

I was really excited to see if it had worked, but there was no such luck.  I don’t know if I had washed the grease stains too many times already, or if I needed to work the chalk in more?  Or maybe sidewalk chalk isn’t the same as regular chalk?  The stain faded a little bit, but the sweaters still weren’t wearable.

palmolive dish soap for grease stain on sweater

So back to Google I went to find another solution, and I found that dish soap is also commonly recommended to combat grease stains.


So I squeezed a generous glob of dish soap onto the stains and worked it in a little bit and sent it through the delicate cycle again with a tiny bit of Tide.


This time it was really sudsy in the washing machine!  I hung the sweaters to dry and was excited to find out that the grease stains had disappeared!

grease stain gone from red sweater

And I don’t know if the dish detergent had anything to do with it, but my sweaters also looked a lot brighter and less dull after they came out of the wash!  (Although, I didn’t wash them with my assorted colours this time, so that also might have had something to do with it).

grease stain gone from pink sweater

My next step was going to be taking a little bit of baking soda and working it into the stains with a toothbrush, but luckily it didn’t come to that.

I’m sure everyone’s stains are a little different, and sometimes you have to try different methods, but for me, chalk did not work very well, but the dish soap did the trick.

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  • MAC

    One of my husband’s dress shirts has a nasty grease stain. I am going to try the dish soap. Hope I am as successful as you were.

    • Debbie @ One Little Project

      You’ll have to let me know if it works for you!

  • Shelby

    It’s the dish soap that does it! Even with REALLY old, dried-in-the-dryer-many-times grease stains, it still gets it out. You put some directly on the spot and squeeze it with your fingers to make sure it really penetrates the fabric fully, then wait a few minutes, 5 or so, not long enough for it to dry, and wash as normal. Blue Dawn works the best but any dish soap will do a decent job. For a front loader, you should not put dish soap directly into the machine because the bubbles can mess up the internal sensors, but spot treating directly on the garment is just fine :).

  • Jessica Donohue

    I agree that it’s the dish soap. It’s the only thing that works on every grease stain I’ve had. I’ve used Dawn and Palmolive with similar results. The chalk thing was completely ineffective for me as well.

  • Penny-Linda P. Thompson

    I use Blue Dawn and borax. Works every time

    • Debbie @ One Little Project

      Great tip with the borax! I wouldn’t have thought of trying that.