Will Dish Soap Remove Grease Stains from Clothes?

27 February 2023
Est. Reading: 3 minutes
What's in This Guide?
Cleaning Items You'll Need.
Dish soap
Washing machine

The Truth About Dish Soap: Does it Really Remove Grease Stains?

How is it that grease stains have a sneaky habit of landing on your favourite shirt? Could it be that oily salad dressing that you were mixing up last night or that hot buttered toast you had this morning? Chances are you’ve dealt with grease stains on your clothing. And if you have, we all know that they can be notoriously difficult to remove.

We know that dish soap is formulated to break up tough grease on dishes, so it stands to reason that it could work on fabric too. You may be wondering if it will work on your clothing.

We are fine material specialists based in Ireland and run courses in carpet and upholstery cleaning, and we are seeing a lot of claims that dishwashing liquid can be used to get rid of grease stains from fabric. In this article, we look at this trending hack to find out if there is any substance to this claim - or if it is just a gimmick?

How We Removed a Grease Stain from a Garment

We have a favourite t-shirt that has a grease stain; must be that butter from this morning! Normally, washing soda would be our go-to household product to get rid of it. But we think that dish soap should do the same. There are a lot of hacks online about it, so we have decided to head to the kitchen and give it a go.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Note: Only dish soap made specifically to remove grease will work for this; natural, eco-friendly ones will not.

Step One:
Apply a small dot of dish soap directly onto the fabric, making sure that you cover the stained area. When working with delicate fabrics, use extreme caution.

Step Two:
Gently rub the dish soap into the stain using your finger. Do not scrub the dish soap into the fabric, as this will only cause the stain to set in the fabric. Dish soap enzymes specifically work to break down the bond that keeps oils and fats bound to fabric.

Step Three:
Leave it to sit for a few minutes.

Step Four:
Wash the garment in the washing machine according to the label instructions. We ran it on a 40-degree Celsius (104F) cotton wash, for 2 hours and 26 minutes (cycle times may differ).

Step Five:
When we took the damp garment out of the machine, there was a faint circle where the stain had been. Which did fade away once the garment dried out. You may have to let the garment air dry so that you can inspect it when it is fully dry. Note that using a dryer while the stain is still on the fabric will cause it to become set in the fibres.

Top Tip!
Dish soap can be used to pre-treat a stain, but it is not recommended to replace washing powder in a washing machine. Apart from the unbelievable number of bubbles all over the floor, it will also leave a residue on your clothes.

Tips to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

  • Act fast and try to treat a grease stain as soon as possible.
  • Soak up the excess oil by using an old towel or paper towel. Start by blotting the stain to get as much out as possible.
  • Refrain from vigorously rubbing the towel across the fabric, as this may cause the stain to spread, or set into the fibres.
  • Before you begin, always check the tag on your clothing to see if it is for dry cleaning only or only suitable for hand washing.
  • Perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the fabric if you are treating delicate garments.
  • Do not start by rinsing the grease stain with water. The reason is that grease stains repel water. Only add water to the stain if you are treating it immediately.

The Answer to "Will Dish Soap Remove Grease Stains from Clothes"

So, will the dish soap successfully remove grease and oil stains from clothes? The answer is……… it depends.

The majority of grease and oil stains can be removed as a pre-treatment with dish soap. However, it is probably not the best option to get rid of tough or persistent grease. You might need to use a stronger cleaning solution or a different kind of cleaner for tougher stains. Have a look at our guide on how to make washing soda at home should you want a better solution to treating grease stains.

We hope this article was helpful and that you now have more of an idea of whether to use dish soap to remove grease stains.

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