Always read the garment care tag before attempting to remove any stain.

How to Clean Stains From Body Oil on Clothes

by M.H. Dyer

Common but annoying and unsightly, body oil stains often show up on cuffs and collars. The stubborn stains are often difficult to remove and may shorten the life of even the most expensive garment. Treat body oil stains as soon as possible, because leaving the garment untreated decreases the chances that you can safely remove the stain. Be persistent because a stubborn stain may require several attempts before the spot is eradicated. Never place a stained garment in the dryer because heat sets stains, making them nearly impossible to remove.

Mix 1/2 teaspoon of liquid hand soap and 1 tablespoon of ammonia into a quart of warm water in a sink or plastic basin.

Soak the stained garment in the solution for 15 minutes, then loosen the body oil by rubbing the stain from the inside of the fabric. Soak the garment for an additional 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Alternatively, you can mix regular powdered laundry detergent with water to make a thin paste, then rub the paste into the stain.

Inspect the garment carefully. If the stain is gone, launder the garment with regular laundry detergent and the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. Read the care tag to determine whether hot water is safe for your garment.

Tackle the problem with bleach if the stubborn stain is still apparent. Fill the washing machine with hot water, then add your regular detergent. Begin the wash cycle and add up to 1/2 cup of bleach to the water. Place the garment in the machine when the bleach is thoroughly blended. Bleach is a strong chemical that can damage some fabrics and may strip the color. If bleach is not recommended for your garment or if you're concerned that bleach may affect the color, use a color-safe, oxygenated bleach instead.

Dry the garment, using the technique recommended on the care tag. Some garments are safely dried in the dryer while others should be hung up to dry.

Items you will need

  • Liquid hand soap
  • Ammonia
  • Sink or plastic basin
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Enzymatic pre-soak
  • Chlorine bleach or oxygenated bleach


  • Take dry clean-only garments to a professional dry cleaner as soon as possible to remove stains.


  • Never combine bleach with other cleaning products, especially ammonia. The combination of bleach and ammonia creates a toxic gas. Similarly, don't combine ammonia with any product containing bleach.
  • Be sure to keep cleaning products safely out of reach of children.
  • Always wear gloves when handling bleach because even diluted bleach can dry and irritate the skin.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

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