How To Get Rancid Oil Smell Out Of Clothes
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How To Get Rancid Oil Smell Out Of Clothes

Dirty Laundry in Basket
Let’s learn to remove the unpleasant rancid oil smell on our clothes!

Have you ever wondered “how to get rancid oil smell out of clothes?” The bad odor keeps lingering on your clothes all day and makes you feel super uncomfortable! Don’t worry! There’s always something to deal with!

Some detergents are born to support you in removing the wrong smells from clothes. They are available around your house that you might not notice! Let’s see what they are and how you can use them to treat the stubborn rancid oil smell on your clothing!

Where Does The Oil Smell Come From?

Oil is such a slippery and versatile liquid. It appears everywhere in your life, from cooking to automobiles to medication. It has a diverse smell, texture and there are tons of ways to use it. It will be very unpleasant if the smell of oil, especially rancid oil, lingers on your clothes.

If your clothes smell oily, you must have stayed near the oil sources. If you stand in the kitchen for too long for cooking, the cooking oil smell will surely permeate your garments and leave a foul, long-lasting smell even when you get out of the kitchen.

If you come to a restaurant and have a seat near the cooking area, the smell from that place can also impact your clothes and linger on your clothing even when you get home. How frustrating is that?

The automobile’s oil is also a headache-causing problem, especially with a mechanic who has to fix the cars and equipment every day. The oil used in automobiles is usually dark color and dense texture, leaving ugly and smelly stains on your clothes.

Coconut oil is also something that causes a stinky smell on your clothes. If you happen to use it to treat your hair or massage your baby, the coconut oil smell is easy to stay on your garments for quite a while.

If someone has oily skin, the oil from his or her skin may also be a cause for the rancid oil smell on garments. The oil will dive in the fibers of the clothes, especially the wool, and stay there for quite a while before washing. 

The oil particles effortlessly float in the air and get themselves embedded in the fabric. It’s even worse when the oil smell from one item contaminates other garments in the closet when you don’t check on them regularly.   

No matter where it comes from, the rancid oil smell does not go off easily, just with some ordinary washing treatments such as regular laundry detergent, fabric softeners, or dryer sheets, making it a huge nuisance!

Therefore, more special treatments should be applied to your clothes to eliminate the foul odor of rancid oil completely. I will provide you with some most helpful and easy-to-find detergents that you can use in this circumstance. Stay tuned for more!

Oil in Fixing Cars
The oil used in fixing cars can be a giant cause of the oil smell on clothes!

Excellent Detergents To Remove Rancid Oil Smell From Your Clothes

When dealing with the heavy smell or stains of oil and grease, using cheap and low-quality products to get rid of them is completely useless and a waste of your time. You should always purchase high-quality cleaners for the best result on the very first attempt!

Looking for something that is affordable and easy to use? Try my suggestions below! They are the most efficient and time-saving detergents and combination of detergents that I have ever tried! I think they may be helpful for you, so read on!

Distilled White Vinegar

Vinegar is always on top of the cleaner list, especially in eliminating the worst odors from clothes! It is widely used for multiple cleaning purposes. It is well-known for breaking down the remaining particles that cause a bad smell to clothes and fabric products.

The distilled version of white vinegar is recommended since it has a lower acid content, decreasing the strong acidic smell easily permeating your clothes in the cleaning process.(1) Follow these simple steps and you may get the best reward!

Distilled White Vinegar
White vinegar is the most common cleaner you can find to solve the oil smell problem!


  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Regular detergent


Step 1: Wash your clothes with regular detergent as usual by hand or in the washing machine.

Step 2: While rinsing the clothes, add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar all over the clothes. If you use the washing machine, pour vinegar into the rinse cycle. The water will dilute the strong vinegar and prevent them from decreasing the quality of the fabric.

Step 3: You may want to rewash the clothes to eliminate the sour smell of vinegar on the clothes completely. Since you use distilled white vinegar, the smell won’t be too heavy, but it might still be there. So, re-wash them with regular detergent if you want.

You can reduce the smell and stains of rancid oil and grease significantly after this process. But if they don’t, just repeat the process from the beginning.

Heavy-Duty Laundry Detergents

Most regular detergents can’t get rid of strong odors or stains on clothes. However, some strong laundry detergents are created with special formulas to remove the most stubborn smell lingering on fabric things.

These heavy-duty detergents can help you a lot more than just using the regular ones. They may be more expensive, but the effective outcome they bring is worth every penny! Read the following instruction for more information.


  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Hot water


Step 1: Check the labels of your bad-odor clothes to confirm the hottest water temperature that they can stand. If some of them cannot, just use the cold plain water as usual.

Step 2: Wash them as usual, but instead of using your regular detergent, add the heavy-duty laundry detergent. Use the hottest water setting that is suitable for your clothes to get the best result.

Step 3: Squeeze your clothes to remove the permeating water if you wash them by hand or take them out of the washing machine, then hang them up for drying. Dry your clothes in fresh air so that the bad smell surely evaporates. 

This may be the easiest way since it’s exactly like how you normally wash your clothes, just with the special substitute of regular detergent. It can solve the toughest problem of eliminating the rancid oil smell from your clothing.


Bleach is a really strong stain remover that is only used to resolve the most severe problems in cleaning fabric stuff. Be careful when using this cleaner since it may leave collateral damage on your clothes all together when everything is done.(2)

Keep in mind that this cleaner should only be used for your white or light-colored clothes. If you use them for vibrant and colorful clothes, the outcome may be awful with many noticeable stains on your clothing! So use it considerably!

Bleach Stain Remover
Bleach is a useful but dangerous detergent that you shouldn’t use around your kids and pets.


  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Regular/Heavy-duty laundry detergent


Option 1: Washing by hand

Step 1: Mix ¼ cup of bleach with warm water in a tub or bucket, adjust the amount of this solution to the amount of your oil-smelling clothes.

Step 2: Soak your clothes in the prepared solution for no more than 10 minutes. Please notice the time because it’s crucial to maintain the quality of your laundry.

Step 3: Rinse them with plain water and wash them as usual with regular detergent.

Option 2: Washing in a washing machine

Step 1: Before setting a washing cycle, add ¾ cup of bleach into the machine’s bleach dispenser. Then, add regular detergent (or heavy-duty laundry detergent, if you have) to another tray.

Step 2: Place the clothes into the washing basket. Set the hottest setting that your clothes can stand (you should read their labels first). Then let the machine run a full cycle.

Step 3: Take them out of the washing machine and dry them as usual.

Reminder: You should wear rubber gloves and always wash your hands after exposing yourself to bleach since your skin might be itchy when directly in contact with bleach. 

Dish Soap

The oil stains on garments are usually caused by some reasons related to cooking. The dish soap is used to wash and dissolve the grease derivatives on culinary equipment. So it actually works well when you use it to remove the oily smell and stains on the clothing.


  • Dish soap
  • Container (tub, bucket, etc.)
  • Wooden spoon (optional)
  • Rubber gloves (optional)


Step 1: Prepare the solution with ¼ cup of dish soap and some gallons of water. Mix them together in a plastic tub or bucket.

Step 2: Soak all of your clothes in the container with the dish soap solution for no more than 30 minutes. You can use a wooden spoon to stir them gently, or use your hands but remember to put on rubber gloves.

Step 3: Take the soaked items out of the container and put them all in the washing machine. At this step, you can use regular detergent or heavy-duty detergent (if you are not sure that the unpleasant is gone or not) to wash the clothes as usual.

Dish soap can also be added in this step, but please make sure that you use a moderate amount of it to avoid creating too many suds and messing things up.

Step 4: Take the garments out of the machine and hang them in a spacious place.


Coke is a popular worldwide beverage. It has a signature dark color and refreshing taste. Coke may sound unusual as a cleaner at first, but it can be an adequate product in cleaning! It includes a high acid content that can work well in breaking down awful smells and stains.

Just a can of Coke will do! Don’t worry that it may leave other stains with the dark color. If you do it right, it may save your clothes from the bad oil smell! Most of all, it is totally friendly to the environment, your children and pets because it’s drinkable!

Coke Clean Smells
Coke is not only a nice gas drink but also a useful cleaner if you use it the right way!


  • A can of Coke
  • Regular detergent
  • Washing machine


Step 1: Put all of your oil-haunting items in the washing basket of the washing machine.

Step 2: Add a can of Coke to the machine together with the normal detergent in the tray.

Step 3: Set a washing cycle and let the machine do its job.

Step 4: Take the laundry out and dry them outdoors for fresh air and wind. 

It’s just like how you do the daily laundry. Can it be easier?


Ammonia used for cleaning purposes is not the regular one that you’re used to. There is a lot of scented ammonia, such as citrus scent. It is a dynamic degreaser that can help you eliminate the strong smell from grease stains on the fabric.

You should use ammonia only when you’re not using bleach since it’s dangerous to mix the two together – the mixture may produce toxic fumes! See the following steps for more information.


  • Scent ammonia
  • Washing machine


Step 1: Put your terrible-smelling clothes in the washing machine. Pour a cup of scented ammoniac into the detergent tray.

Step 2: Set up a wash cycle and wait for the machine to wash the clothes.

Step 3: Take them out and dry them as you usually do.

Warning: Ammonia must not be seriously inhaled in any case.

Pine-Sol Or Lestoil

Pine-Sol and Lestoil are all-purpose cleaners. They can help eliminate the weird odor completely. However, these two are much stronger and more powerful than vinegar. If you use too much of them, they may damage your clothing harshly.

Pine-Sol and Lestoil can be used for general cleaning by adding to the wash water. They are heavy-duty chemicals that are designed to remove stains and need to be handled with care. Therefore, always use rubber gloves to deal with these detergents! 

Find the more detailed instruction below!


  • Pine-Sol/ Lestoil
  • An old toothbrush


Step 1: Pour a tiny amount of Pine-Sol or Lestoil directly onto the grease stains appearing on the garments, then scrub them gently with an old toothbrush.

Step 2: Leave the liquids there on your clothes for about 20 minutes.

Step 3: Wash them as you would normally do with regular detergent. Dry them in a cool, airy place.

Pine-Sol is a popular multi-surface cleaner with powerful cleaning characteristics!

GOJO Hand Cleaner

GOJO hand cleaner is a typical soap that mechanics often use. It may be one of the best pre-wash treatments for clothes on the market. If it can dissolve the grease stains on your hands, it can also eliminate those stubborn stains on your clothes.


  • GOJO hand cleaner
  • An old toothbrush
  • Regular detergent
  • Baking soda


Step 1: Pour a bit of GOJO hand cleaner onto the oil stains on the clothing. After that, scrub them carefully with an old toothbrush if they are heavily stained. Let the clothes be with GOJO for a few minutes.

Step 2: Wash them as you would normally do with regular detergent. You may want to rewash them with baking soda to eliminate both the oil and GOJO hand cleaner smell.

Step 3: Hang them outside for better drying.


Borax is another powerful soldier in the cleaning kingdom. It is strong enough to get rid of all types of grease stains. It helps modify the pH level of the washing water, thereby neutralizing the acidic environment of the oil stains and removing them quickly. It’s the alkaline of nature.  

One important thing about Borax that you should know is that pure Borax may burn your body parts (eyes, skin, etc.) if you expose yourself to it without any protection. It’s unsafe to leave it around your children or pets! Please note this fact down carefully.(3)

Borax Clean Stains
Borax is so strong that it can deal with most of the stains!


  • Borax
  • A container (tub, bucket, etc.)
  • Regular laundry detergent
  • Washing machine


Option 1: Pre-soaking the clothes.

Step 1: Pour 1 tablespoon of Borax with 1 gallon of warm water in a tub or bucket. Add more solutions based on the amount of your bad-odor clothes.

Step 2: Soak your garments in the borax solution for about 30 minutes. Then, pour the whole thing, including the clothes and the mixture, into the washing machine.

Step 3: Set a washing cycle, wait for it, and hang them to dry as usual. 

Option 2: Washing it directly with borax solution.

Step 1: Pour half a cup of Borax directly into the washing machine. 

Step 2: Put the bad-smelling clothes in the washing basket, then let the machine go through a washing cycle.

Step 3: Pull them out of the washing machine. Dry them as you would do.

You can actually use Borax for more cleaning purposes! Watch this video:

Watch this video: Borax is Awesome for Cleaning!

Combination: Dish Soap And Eucalyptus Oil

Dish soap is one of the listed degreasers, so guess that I don’t need to talk about its effects anymore. Eucalyptus oil is an organic essential oil that can help those unpleasant smells fade away quicker.


  • Dish soap
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • An old toothbrush
  • Regular detergent


Step 1: Mix ¼ cup of dish soap with 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. Apply the mixture directly to the oil stain spots on your clothes.

Step 2: Scrub those areas considerably with an old toothbrush for a few seconds.

Step 3: Let the items sit there with liquid for a few hours, waiting for the liquid to absorb in the fabric.

Step 4: Wash and dry them as you want to.

Combination: Baking Soda And White Vinegar

The collaboration of the two most common cleaners is the best thing ever! Baking soda is a famous odor-absorbing detergent that can help remove any foul smell on your clothes, while white vinegar is an excellent source of acidity that can remove the most stubborn stains!

Baking Soda Mix Vinegar
Baking soda and white vinegar is a heaven-sent mixture to eliminate the pungent odor of mothballs.


  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A container (tub, bucket, etc.)
  • A wooden spoon


Step 1: In a container, mix baking soda and white vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 and enough water. Submerge the clothes in the solution and stir gently for 30 seconds with a wooden spoon.

Step 2: Let the clothing and the liquid sit for 4 hours. After this time, dump all the clothes with the solution inside the washing machine.

Step 3: Run the washing cycle as you usually do. When it’s done, take them out and hang them in a spacious area with wind and sunlight. 

Combination: Dish Soap, Ammonia, And Hydrogen Peroxide

With a mixture of three powerful detergents, this is the most thorough method in this list. There can be a triple effect when you use this combination to eliminate the foul smell from rancid oil or grease.


  • Dish soap
  • Scented ammonia
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Regular detergent
  • Washing machine


Step 1: Blend the three cleaners: a quarter cup of dish soap, a cup of citrus-scented ammonia, and another cup of hydrogen peroxide. Stir them gently so that they can mix well and create a solid liquid.

Step 2: Turn on the hottest water setting of the washing machine that your clothes can sustain (check the labels beforehand). When the machine is full of water, put your clothes and the prepared solution in at the same time.

Step 3: Soak your clothing in the mixture for 20 minutes. After that, set a washing cycle and wait for the machine to complete its duty.

Step 4: Keep all of them inside and restart a new washing routine with the usual detergent to remove all the bad smells.

Why Do My Garments Smell Rancid Oil After Washing?

Sometimes, your washed laundry still smells of bad rancid oil and you don’t know why. Here are some of the possible reasons.

It Has Something To Do With Washing Machine

The machine that you put your clothing in for washing can be the problem. Some malfunction can be there with the machine’s parts. You should check every part of the washing machine to find out the cause, because an oil leak may happen.

If there is something wrong with the washing machine, you should contact a professional to deal with it. They will know how to fix it and the machine will get back to normal with no oil smell on your clothes anymore.

Washing Machine Clean
Your washing machine may have some malfunction that causes the oil smell when washing clothes.

The Contaminated Oil-Stained Clothes

If you don’t check and sort out the clothes carefully before washing, the oil-stained items may still be there in the laundry. The rancid oil odor may contaminate the whole. Even when they are dry, those grease-stained clothes can rub off others and spread the smell to them.

In this case, you should rewash them all with the recommended solutions in the above list, until they are completely uncontaminated with the awful oil smell. 

Oil Buildup In The Washing Machine

Cleaning your washing machine routinely is easy but there are not many people insisting on it, causing the oil buildup in the machine over time. This can be a huge cause if you usually wash the oil-stained clothes in the washing machine.

You can repair this problem without calling in a professional. Run an empty load with the hot water setting and some heavy-duty laundry detergents. They will help you to dissolve the oil buildup that has been staying for too long in the machine.

Learn how to clean your washing machine in a quick way to prevent oil buildup! Watch this video:

Watch this video: How to Clean Your Washing Machine

No matter what the problem is, there’s always a way to fix it, so don’t worry! You just need to know where the problem comes from and find out a proper method.


Some commonly asked questions around this topic have been collected and briefly answered. Read on to find whether there’s your concern here or not.

Which is better for me to use, Lestoil or Pine-sol?

Pine-sol is fine for some daily cleaning activities such as cleaning the floors or your house. Lestoil is much stronger with heavy-duty chemicals that can easily cut through grease and oil stains. So if you ask for my advice, I would go for Lestoil for better treatment with oil odors.

Which detergents can be used to remove the coconut oil smell from my clothes?

The best solution for removing coconut oil on clothing may be applying vinegar. The dish soap and washing soda can also be some useful cleaners for getting rid of the rancid coconut oil on the garments.

How can I get mechanical grease smell and motor oil stains out of garments?

Some dish detergent, GOJO hand cleaner, and baking soda may help. If you can find mechanical soap, it will be the best cleaner in this case because it is designed to eliminate motor oil smell and stains.

What are some tips to eliminate the massage oil smell of clothes and towels?

You should always wash the oil-stained fabric in hot water with some heavy-duty detergents. Massage oil smell can be hard to completely come off but it can somehow fade away after being washed with strong cleaners like bleach and Lestoil.

How to remove the essential oil smell lingering on my clothing?

Baking soda, activated charcoal, or distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washing machine are the most reliable ways to get rid of any essential oil odor left on your clothing after washing them.

How can I get rid of the smell of cooking oil on clothes without washing?

You can spray some acidic liquid on your clothes, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Vodka can also be used to spray on the oil-stained garments. There are some treatments related to temperature such as steaming the clothes with hot water or freezing them up in the freezer.

Have Your Problems Will The Rancid Oil Been Solved?

I’m sure that with all the information provided, you may somehow imagine the way to deal with your problems in getting the rancid smell out of the clothes. But if there’re still some questions wandering in your head, don’t be afraid to ask me in the comment section below!

If you apply some of my recommendations and get a significantly good result, also share with me at this post! I’ll be over the moon by hearing that! Like and share this article if you feel it can help you and your friends!

How To Get Rancid Oil Smell Out Of Clothes


  1. Healthline. 2021. What You Should Know About Cleaning with Vinegar.
  2. 2021. Bleach – Wikipedia.
  3. 2021. Borax – Wikipedia.

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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