How To Get Oil Stains Out Of Upholstery

Have you had a tough day and want to do nothing else except sit down on the couch while eating delicious, yet greasy, food and watch TV?

It all starts so lovely until you drop that greasy food right onto your couch’s upholstery.

Now on top of everything else, you are wondering how to get oil stains out of upholstery.

Removing oil stains from your upholstery can be a challenge.

However, if you act fast and use the proper steps and techniques, you can win the battle against oil stains.

The items and steps below will remove greasy oil stains from food spills and body oil and even suntan oil from upholstery.

Read on for more info on what you’ll need to remove oil stains from upholstery.

How to get oil stains out of upholstery

What You’ll Need

Throughout this section, we go over all of the items you will need to remove oil stains from your upholstery.

Our goal is not to break the bank with expensive, commercial stain removal products unless necessary.

Instead, we look to household items that are found in most kitchens.

A Dull Knife/Spoon

The first item that you’ll need is either a dull knife or a spoon.

Either of these items is what you will use to lift away any of the oily solids that are possibly still lurking in your upholstery fabric.

If the stain has set in and there are no oily solids present, skip this item and go to the next.

Paper Towel

You will need several paper towels to soak up as much of the oil as possible before it sets in.

Baking Soda/Corn Starch

Baking soda or corn starch are your best friends when it comes to removing oil stains from upholstery or just about any fabric.

They act as absorbing agents and pull the oil up and out of the upholstery fabric and into the powder themselves.

The key with these items is getting to the stain quickly enough.


A toothbrush is an excellent tool in this process.

It’s used to work different items into the stains to make sure it penetrates deep enough to cover it.

You can use any soft-bristled brush if you don’t have an extra toothbrush.

Liquid Dish Soap

Next, you will need strong liquid dish soap.

You will mix this with ammonia to create an excellent cleaning solution to eliminate that oil stain.

Dawn or Seventh Generation works well for this solution.


Any household ammonia will work fine.

I love this brand that I found on Amazon.

Clean Dish Cloth

The final item you’ll need is a dish cloth.

I’ve found that these microfiber cleaning cloths work best.

And that’s it!

The items above are all you need to remove oil stains out of upholstery fabric.

You probably have most, if not all, of these items in your home, bringing your cost for this project to zero.

Step By Step Instructions For How To Get Oil Stains Out Of Upholstery

Here, we will go over detailed steps on how to remove oil stains from your upholstery fabric.

Again, the trick to this is how quickly you can start this process after the spill has taken place.

#1 Lift Away Any Oily Solids

Take your knife or dull spoon and gently lift the solid clumps of oil, (If any) from the fabric.

Take special care to NOT RUB the oil with anything because this will only push the oil stain deeper into the fabric.

If the oil stain is small, this step may not be necessary.

#2 Apply Baking Soda/Corn Starch

Next, you are going to sprinkle your baking soda/corn starch over the stain.

Make sure that you cover it completely.

Allow it to sit for a minimum of twenty minutes before removing it.

While it sets, it is soaking up the oil into the powder itself.

#3 Vacuum Baking Soda/Corn Starch

After the absorbing agent has set for at least twenty minutes, vacuum it up thoroughly.

If your vacuum is on the fritz, you can use a damp cloth to blot up the powder.

It will take longer to blot it up but have the same effect.

#4 Blot With Cleaning Solution

Add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to two cups of warm water.

Next, mix in a tablespoon of liquid ammonia.

Wet the stain with this solution and work it in with your toothbrush using soft, gentle strokes across the stain.

Blot the cleaning solution with a dry cloth or paper towel until the stain is completely removed.

#5 “Rinse” With Damp Cloth

The final step is to dampen, NOT SOAK, a clean dish cloth.

Lightly blot any remaining cleaning solution out of the fabric.

Do this until there is no soapy, cleaning solution residue seen.

Pro Tip:

Be sure to go light with any water usage on your upholstery.

Some fabric like leather is susceptible to water, and if you use too much, you can do more damage than good.


You have learned how to get oil stains out of your upholstery fabric.

If the first round of steps doesn’t remove the stain completely repeat them until it does.

Doing this can save you money and time while also giving a sense of accomplishment.

Commonly Asked Questions

How long after the spill do I have before the stain sets in too far?

There is not a set time in a place that says you can’t remove the stain.

The rule of thumb is as soon as possible.

Do I have to make a cleaning solution?

Making and applying the cleaning solution is like an extra arrow in your stain removal quiver.

If you don’t have the items to make it, skip the step and maybe the stain will still come out.

I highly suggest using it, however.


We hope you have enjoyed learning how to get oil stains out of upholstery.

Using these tips and steps can help you save money on costly professional cleaning bills and give you a sense of accomplishment for doing it yourself.

Good luck!