Vaseline and greasy ointments are good for soothing the skin but can end up smeared on your clothes or other fabrics and cause oily stains. Oil-based stains can come from vaseline, food, greasy products, and even deodorants. Synthetic fabrics especially attract greasy stains and make them hard to get rid of.
The key to removing oily stains is quickly breaking down the oils. Even though cleaning such stains can be tough, it is possible by using common items that you probably already have at home.
Before you begin cleaning the grease stain, test the solution that you chose in a small, inconspicuous area. Make sure it does not cause damage or discolouration to the fabric. Always start by removing any blobs of vaseline or ointment by using a plastic scraper or a dull knife. Blot the stain with dry paper towels. As with most stains, the sooner you take action the easier it will be to get rid of the stain altogether.
If the garment is labelled as dry clean only, bring it to a professional as soon as possible. For removing oily stains from vintage or fragile upholstery, call a professional company, and do not attempt anything on your own. The chances of damaging the fabric are high.
How to remove oily vaseline or ointment stains from clothing
If you are outside or do not have time to properly take care of the stain, sprinkle some cornstarch, talcum powder, or baby powder all over the stained area. The powder will absorb some of the oil and make it easier to get rid of later. If you are ready to start the process, follow these steps.
1. Remove solids – Use a plastic scraper or a spoon to get rid of any vaseline blobs. Do not rub since you will end up pushing the ointment deeper into the fabric fibres.
2. Treat with stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent – Use a stain remover that contains enough enzymes to break down the oil in the stain. This step will work especially if you are treating synthetic fabrics that hold on to greasy stains well. If you don’t have a stain remover handy, use a heavy-duty laundry detergent. Apply it to the stained area and work the product in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Allow the product to sit on the fabric for at least 15 minutes, then scrub with the soft-bristled brush, and rinse with hot water.
3. Wash as usual – Wash the garment using the hottest water suitable for the fabric (check the care label for that information). Check the stained area before placing the garment in the dryer. The high heat may set the stain making it hard to remove or even permanent.
4. Remove dyes with oxygen bleach – If the ointment is tinted, you may want to take some extra steps to get rid of the colour. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach and cold water, following the package instructions. Submerge the garment in this mixture and let it sit for at least 8 hours. When done, check the fabric for any traces of dye.
If the stain remains, you can repeat the steps above, or make a fresh oxygen bleach and water solution if the grease is gone but the colour stain remains.
Extra tips for handling greasy vaseline or ointment stains:
The longer vaseline and ointment stains remain on the fabric, the darker they become. They will also become extremely hard to remove and sometimes, can even become permanent if not treated. Once you notice the spot, start cleaning it right away to prevent this from happening. If you accidentally skipped a vaseline-stained garment and threw it in the washer or dryer along with the rest of your laundry load, the stain will set. Follow these steps to deal with such occasions.
• Use cornstarch or baby powder. Sprinkle it all over the stained area and let it sit for 30 minutes. The powder will soak up the oil from the stain.
• Ten use heavy-duty laundry detergent or a stain remover. Gently work it in the stained area, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and then wash it as usual.
• If the stain remains, repeat the steps again. You may need to repeat these steps multiple times in order to get rid of the stain completely. Make sure you do not put the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone. For fragile fabrics, do not scrub too hard since you may damage the fibres.
In general, the sooner you start cleaning the stain, the easier it will be to get rid of it. Make sure you always follow the instructions on the fabric care label and use cold water when treating the stain. We hope those tips helped you.