How to Remove Stains From Clothes and Carpet: Petroleum Jelly, Oil, Grass

What You'll Need
Spoon or butter knife
Isopropyl alcohol
Absorbant pad
Dish washing liquid
Warm water
Spray bottle
Paper towels
Hydrogen peroxide
Pre-soak cleaner
Cirtus-based solvent
Baby powder or cornstarch
Afta cleaning fluid
Goo Gone
Powdered enzyme detergent
White vinegar or ammonia

Removing stains is no joke. Clothing, carpeting, and even furniture can suffer from tough-to-remove stains that ruin their appeal and shorten their use. Petroleum jelly, oil, and grass stains are among those stubborn stains, but here are a few tips to help ease your worries.

Petroleum Jelly Stains

Petroleum jelly, or Vaseline as it is commonly called, is an oil-based product that can be removed from clothing using a simple procedure. First, scrape away any excess with a spoon or dull butter knife, being careful to not damage the fabric. Next, wet the stain with isopropyl alcohol and blot the area with a clean white absorbent pad. You will notice the rubbing alcohol breaking down the oil in petroleum jelly. Continue this process until no more residue is visible and then mix a solution of one tablespoon dish washing liquid and one cup warm water. Apply to the stain with a spray bottle. Blot the stain with a paper towel to lift the remaining petroleum jelly.

If the stain persists, spray the area with hydrogen peroxide, and allow it to dry. This will break the stain up even further. Use a pre-soak treatment on the garment, and allow to stand at least 15 minutes, then launder per care label instructions. Dry clean only is best handled by a professional.

For stains on carpeting, use a spoon to pick up the excess, working from the edge of the stain to the center. Blot up any excess with paper towel, and, using a clean white absorbent pad, apply isopropyl alcohol or a good citrus-based solvent to the area. Blot up as much of the stain as possible, ensuring that you do not over saturate the carpet with the cleaning agent. Rinse with warm water and blot up the excess moisture. If the stain remains, mix a solution of one tablespoon grease cutting dish soap, like Dawn, with one quart of water. Spray this solution on the area, being sure not to over soak. Allow to stand at least five minutes, and blot up with paper towel. Rinse with warm water and blot dry.

Oil Stains

To remove oil stains from clothing, apply an absorbent compound such as baby powder or cornstarch to the area and allow it to stand for at least fifteen minutes before brushing away the powder. Place the garment on a paper towel with the stain side down. Apply a dry cleaning solvent such as Afta Cleaning Fluid to the stain, and change paper towels frequently as they pick up the oil stain. Spray the stain with a pre-soak cleanser such as Shout, and let stand for at least a half hour. Launder as usual following care label instructions. Goo Gone, a citrus-based cleaner, is reported to also work well on removing oil stains from clothing.

Carpeting will be much the same, with slight differences. Again, pick up any excess oil with a spoon. Blot with an absorbent pad to remove remaining residue. Apply a carpet spot remover, following all directions and precautions, with an absorbent pad. Be careful to not soak the carpeting, and blot the stain until all traces of the oil are gone. Mix one tablespoon of a grease cutting liquid dish soap to one quart of water and then with a spray bottle, apply this solution to the carpet and blot until all residue is gone. Rinse with warm water and blot up all excess with paper towels. Make a pad of paper towels, and place it over the stain. Weight the paper towel with a heavy object that is non-absorbent and leave overnight to dry. You'll want to vacuum the carpet to restore pile.

Grass Stains

To remove grass stains from washable clothing, make a paste of powdered enzyme laundry detergent, apply to the stain, and let sit in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Remove the paste, and with an eye dropper, apply a solution of one part white vinegar or ammonia to two parts water. Blot until all traces of the stain have been removed and then rinse in cool water before you launder per care label instructions. For non-washable items, apply a pre-treatment such as Shout to the stain, and allow it to stand for at least 15 minutes. With your eyedropper again, apply a solution of one part white vinegar or household ammonia to two parts cool water. Blot until stain is removed, then rinse with warm water and allow to dry. If this doesn't work, seek the help of a dry cleaning professional, and be sure to identify the stain to them for treatment.

On carpeting, gently sponge the area with a dry cleaning solution such as Afta Cleaning Fluid. Apply a dry spotter to the stain and place an absorbent pad dampened with the dry spotter over the stain. Allow the pad to remain as long as the stain is being picked up, ensuring that the pad stays moist during the process. When all residue is picked up, flush with the dry cleaning solvent and allow to dry. Repeat as necessary.

Remember that not all stains can be successfully removed, even with the proper procedures. If in doubt on any stain, seek the care of a dry cleaning professional or a carpet cleaning specialist.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.