How to Get Coconut Oil Out of Fabric: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you tired of struggling with the pesky issue of coconut oil stains on your favorite fabrics? Whether it’s a splash on your shirt or a spill on your sofa, dealing with these stains can be quite a challenge. Fear not, as we have put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you tackle and remove coconut oil stains from fabric with ease.

Coconut oil stains can be particularly stubborn due to their greasy nature, making them difficult to remove with a simple wash. Understanding the properties of coconut oil and how it interacts with different fabrics is crucial in effectively treating these stains. From pre-treatment methods to the actual stain removal process, we will walk you through each step, ensuring that your fabrics are restored to their pristine condition.

In this article, we will delve into the step-by-step process of getting coconut oil out of fabric. We will cover everything from pre-treatment techniques to the stain removal process, including special considerations for delicate fabrics and stubborn stains. By the end, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you need to conquer coconut oil stains and preserve the integrity of your favorite fabrics.

Understanding Coconut Oil Stains

Coconut oil’s water-repellent nature makes it notoriously difficult to remove from fabric, creating a barrier that normal washing won’t budge. This type of stain is oil-based, demanding more specialized removal techniques. Over time, untouched coconut oil stains darken as the oil oxidizes, becoming even more visible and stubborn.

It’s important to note that whether it’s unrefined or refined, coconut oil can lead to staining because of its fat content. Although refined oil has a marginally lower likelihood of staining, precaution is still advised. When coconut oil sinks into the fabric, it can leave a long-lasting mark that’s not easy to get out without the correct approach.

Prompt action is key in preventing coconut oil from bonding with the material and creating permanent discolorations. For those unavoidable spills and splatters, there are particular steps you can follow to lift the oil from the fibers and restore your fabric to its original state.

Remember, the type of fabric also influences the removal process—delicate fabrics require gentler care to avoid damage, while more durable textiles can withstand vigorous treatments. With the right know-how, those problematic coconut oil stains can become a thing of the past.


Before tackling the troublesome coconut oil stain on your fabric, it is essential to initiate a pre-treatment routine that will aid in lifting the stubborn oil. Start by applying a liquid laundry detergent, degreaser, or dishwashing detergent directly onto the stain. These substances have properties designed to break down the oils, making it easier to cleanse the fibers of your fabric effectively.

Once you’ve chosen your pre-treatment solution, work it into the coconut oil stain by gently rubbing it with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. This motion allows the detergent to penetrate the fabric fibers more deeply. Don’t be too forceful; a light treatment can be just as effective.

After working in the detergent, allow it to sit on the stain for 3–5 minutes. This waiting period is crucial as it gives the detergent time to emulsify the coconut oil, breaking down the grease and preparing it to be washed away. Pre-treating is especially important for fresh coconut oil stains, as it prevents them from setting and causing permanent discoloration. By undertaking this step, you’re setting the stage for a successful cleaning process that greatly increases the likelihood of complete stain removal.

Assessing the Stain

In order to tackle a coconut oil stain effectively, it’s important to first assess the type of fabric and the extent of the stain. Check how deeply the oil has penetrated the material and take note of the size and age of the stain, as these factors will dictate your cleaning strategy. Determine if the fabric is delicate or sturdy, as upholstery and other fragile fabrics may require a different approach than more durable textiles.

Understanding the hydrophobic nature of coconut oil will help guide you towards suitable stain removal methods. Delicate fabrics might need a milder treatment, avoiding harsh chemicals or excessive scrubbing. Additionally, considering the fabric’s color and type is imperative, as certain cleaning agents could potentially alter the fabric if used indiscriminately.

Removing Excess Coconut Oil

To deal with any chunks of coconut oil present on the fabric, use a tissue or a piece of cardboard to scrape them off gently. Avoid rubbing them into the fabric as this can push the oil deeper into the fibers, making it harder to clean. After removing solid pieces, use paper towels or white towels to blot any liquid coconut oil. Press down on the stain with the paper towel to absorb as much oil as possible without further spreading it.

If you encounter liquid coconut oil on your carpet, particularly light-colored ones, baking soda serves as a great absorbent, while cornstarch is preferred for darker carpets. Sprinkle the absorbent liberally onto the stain, let it sit for about 30 minutes to absorb the oil, and then vacuum over the area to remove the powder.

For dried coconut oil stains, activating the fats with an application of WD-40 prior to washing can be beneficial. This helps loosen the stain from the fabric fibers, allowing for more effective removal during the subsequent cleaning process.

Using Baking Soda and Baby Powder

Baking soda and baby powder are your allies in the fight against coconut oil stains because of their remarkable ability to absorb oils. For fresh or recent stains, sprinkle a generous amount of either baking soda or baby powder onto the affected area. The powder’s gentle abrasive nature won’t harm your fabric but will help lift excess coconut oil from the weave of the clothing.

If you’re dealing with a dried stain, a combination of baking soda and a few drops of WD-40 can reactivate the oils. Be sure to protect unaffected areas with a piece of cardboard and lightly scrub using an old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush in a gentle circular motion. This mixture should be left to sit for 15-30 minutes before laundering. As with any treatment, testing the baby powder on a hidden section of the fabric beforehand ensures no detrimental effects on the appearance or integrity of the fabric.

Applying Dish Soap or Laundry Detergent

Dishwashing liquid is a powerful ally when it comes to dealing with coconut oil stains on clothing. Designed to cut through grease, it works effectively without damaging the fabric. For a balanced solution, mix one teaspoon of dish soap with four parts of water. If the coconut oil stain is particularly stubborn, adding 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to the dishwashing soap can create a potent combination that you can rub onto the stain, leaving it for 30 minutes before washing.

When opting for laundry detergent, verify that there’s no bleach content within the formula to prevent any unwanted discoloration on the fabric. If using detergent on fabrics that are unsuitable for machine washing, dampen a clean cloth with the soap solution and apply it to the stain gently, ensuring not to oversaturate the fabric. Follow up by rinsing with warm water to wash out the detergent.

In both cases, the cleaning process benefits greatly from the application of warm or hot water if the fabric can withstand it. Remember to check your care labels beforehand. However, for truly delicate fabric, cold water may be necessary. After applying your chosen solution, wash the item in the washing machine or by hand as appropriate. Repeat these steps if needed to eradicate stubborn coconut oil stains from your cherished clothing and upholstery.

Treating the Stain

When faced with a coconut oil stain, time is of the essence. Immediate action can increase the chances of completely removing the stain. Ensure to pretreat the fabric without introducing water, as adding moisture before treating can cause the oil to set deeper into the fibers. Instead, use a clean, dry cloth to blot the stained area, pressing gently to avoid spreading the stain. For more severe or set-in stains, an old toothbrush can be employed to agitate the area and help lift the oil. It is crucial not to rub the fabric too harshly to prevent driving the oil deeper into the material. Remember, after the stain has been treated, refrain from using a dryer until you are positive that no residue remains, as lingering oil could pose a health and safety concern if exposed to high heat.

Hot Water and Paper Towels

Hot water has a natural affinity for breaking down oils, which can be advantageous when attempting to remove coconut oil stains from fabric. Heat helps to dissolve the oil, allowing the molecules to become more pliable and less adherent to the fabric. To employ this method, lay the affected area over a bowl or sink and pour hot water directly over the stain to pre-treat it before laundering. Immediately following this, blot the stain using a white paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Be vigilant to blot gently and not rub, as rubbing could cause the stain to set deeper into the fabric’s weave. Check that your fabric can handle hot water without sustaining damage or shrinking before undertaking this step.

Using White Vinegar and Warm Water

White vinegar, known for its acidity and grease-cutting capabilities, can be an effective treatment for coconut oil stains on fabric. Create a solution by mixing approximately 100ml of white vinegar with warm water in a pail or a similar container large enough to submerge your stained clothing. Soak the fabric in this solution, massaging the stained area between your fingers or with a soft brush to help the vinegar penetrate and break down the oil. After rubbing the area, let it soak for an additional 5-10 minutes for maximal effectiveness. Once this is done, proceed to launder the item in your washing machine, ideally with hot water, to further treat the stain.

Applying Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder is a natural remedy that’s often found in the kitchen, yet it can also be a valuable tool for tackling coconut oil stains on delicate fabrics. As a safe and gentle starch, it absorbs oil efficiently without risking damage or discoloration to the garment. To use, simply sprinkle an ample coating of arrowroot powder directly onto the stain. Allow the powder to sit for 15-30 minutes to give it adequate time to pull the oil out of the fabric. Once the time has elapsed, carefully brush off or shake out the powder. For lingering or stubborn stains, this method can be repeated to enhance the arrowroot powder’s oil-absorbing action.

Stain Removal Process

When tackling coconut oil stains on fabric, undertaking a systematic stain removal process is essential. The steps begin with the assessment of the type of fabric and the suitable treatment method. Certain fabrics may respond well to gentle brushing, while others might need a soaking or washing method. Understanding the characteristics of both the stain and the fabric will guide you through an effective cleaning regime.

Using a Soft-Bristled Brush

For soft cotton fabrics, using a soft-bristled brush can be a particularly effective way to address coconut oil stains. Begin by gently lifting and loosening the oil with the brush, taking care to do so in the direction of the fabric’s weave to avoid damage. The soft bristles allow you to work a detergent or a specialized cleaning solution into the fabric forcefully but without abrasiveness. This ensures thorough coverage and treatment of the stain, improving the chances of complete removal. If the stain persists, the brushing action can be repeated to further break up and disperse the coconut oil, prior to washing.

Washing the Fabric in the Washing Machine

Once you have pre-treated the coconut oil stains, cautiously proceed with washing the fabric. However, avoid placing coconut oil-stained fabric directly into the washing machine, as this can spread the stain to other garments. It’s also crucial to act swiftly—delay can cause the heat from the wash cycle to set the stain further. Employ warm water, which aids in breaking down the oil, and use a hefty dose of laundry detergent. After washing, it’s important to air dry the garments rather than using the dryer since heat could set any remaining oil into the fabric. If the coconut oil stain remains visible after the first wash, repeat the pre-treatment and washing steps before air drying again.

Final Rinse with Cold Water

A final rinse with cold water plays an important role, particularly for delicate fabrics and upholstery, where cold water helps to remove any remaining traces of coconut oil stain. This method is particularly effective because cold water does not set the stain as hot water might. Begin by soaking the stained garment in extremely cold water that’s been mixed with laundry detergent, ideally for a duration of 2-8 hours. Follow with a wash in the washing machine, ensuring you continue to use cold water. After laundering, lay the item flat or hang on a drying rack to air dry. For stubborn coconut oil stains, several repeats of this cold water rinse may be necessary to fully eradicate the stain.

Special Considerations

When addressing coconut oil stains on delicate fabrics or upholstery, the right approach is critical to preserve the integrity of the material. This section will detail some essential guidelines to follow while managing such stains.

Delicate Fabrics and Upholstery

Delicate fabrics, such as silk, lace, wool, and leather, necessitate a tender touch during the stain removal process to avoid causing any damage. Begin with a careful blotting of the coconut oil using a white towel or a piece of cardboard to remove any excess oil. It’s imperative to avoid rubbing the stain, as this can push the oil deeper into the delicate fibers or even create holes in the fabric.

For luxurious materials like silk, a safer alternative for pre-treating stains is to use unscented baby powder or arrowroot powder rather than baking soda and hot water, which can be too harsh. Gently dust the powder over the coconut oil stain and let it sit for 15-30 minutes to absorb the oil before lightly brushing it off with a clean, soft-bristled brush.

Upholstery requires a specific approach as well. Test your cleaning method in an inconspicuous area to ensure there’s no discoloration or fabric damage. If you are treating coconut oil stains on non-machine washable upholstery, spot-clean the area with a mixture of warm water and a small amount of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent. Use a soft cloth to gently dab and lift the stain, and then rinse with a cloth dampened in cold water.

Stubborn Stains and Commercial Stain Removers

Sometimes, coconut oil stains can be particularly stubborn, especially if they’ve had time to set. When home remedies fail to remove the stain, commercial stain removers can be a powerful ally. These products are formulated to tackle tough stains, but it’s essential to choose the right type for your fabric—particularly for delicate and non-washable materials. Always follow the instructions carefully and test for colorfastness.

Furthermore, for items like silk or wool, be wary of leaving enzyme-based removers on the stain for extended periods (no more than one hour) as these could cause damage. Always rinse thoroughly with cold water after treatment to remove any residue from the cleaning product.

When selecting a commercial stain remover, ensure the product is labeled as safe for use around children and pets, if applicable. For fabrics that cannot be machine-washed, consider gentle blotting, steam cleaning, or using a specialized upholstery cleaner to lift out oil stains without relying on a washer’s rinsing action. Before using any commercial product, consult the garment’s care label to confirm its suitability for use on your specific type of fabric.


In conclusion, getting coconut oil out of fabric may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be easily done. Remember to act quickly, blot the stain, and use common household items like dish soap and baking soda to effectively remove the oil. By following this step-by-step guide, you can ensure that your fabric remains clean and oil-free.

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