Oil and fabrics are never a good mix. Oil can stain clothing faster than just about anything else that touches it. And t-shirts, being made of breathable cotton, can be especially vulnerable to it. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to take out the oil before it permanently damages the t-shirt. If caught in enough time, there’s no reason that an oily t-shirt that looks hopeless can’t end up looking as good as new.
One home remedy that many use against oil is shampoo. A baby shampoo can be used if the stain is mild, or a harsher shampoo can be used if the stain is more severe. The shampoo should be rubbed into the stain for a few minutes and then rinsed out with warm water. The t-shirt can then be washed in the laundry as usual. The oil should run out of the shirt and leave it looking like it did before.
If that doesn’t work for your particular oil spot, try a dishwashing detergent. It may sound strange, but a liquid dishwashing soap may be the most effective thing you can use on a tough oil stain. Dishwashing detergents are made to cut the oil that is left behind on pots and pans and to allow it to be rinsed away. This same principle can be used for your t-shirts. The dishwashing soap can be applied in much the same way as the shampoo- rub it into the oily area, rinse it away and then wash the shirt as you normally would.
If the stain is particularly tough, try changing the way you apply the dishwashing soap. Instead of rubbing it into the fabric of the t-shirt, scrub it into the fabric with an old toothbrush. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging the fabric or causing too much wear to the oily area.
If either of these methods doesn’t work for a stubborn stain, combine one or both of these methods with a hot-water soak. Add some shampoo or dishwashing soap into the water and allow the t-shirt to soak for about half an hour. Then, take the t-shirt out and wash it in the washing machine.
Baby powder is another home remedy that many people swear by. The powder soaks up the oil which can then be removed when you remove the baby powder. The problem with baby powder, however, can often be the smell that is left behind. It may also stain dark t-shirts. If you want to try it anyway, use cornstarch instead. This has a similar effect but will not leave the same strong scent behind. It is also less hazardous to those with asthma or other respiratory problems as talc can be.
Whichever method of oil remover you decide to use, never put your clothes into the dryer until you are certain the stain has come out. Drying clothes in the dryer will set the stain and make it far more difficult to remove.