Our Best Tips For Getting Vaseline Stains Out Of Clothes

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly has a dizzying number of uses, especially related to one's beauty routine and skincare measures. Unfortunately, that also means that some accidental spillage can occur from time to time. This can lead to clothes being stained beyond repair if appropriate measures aren't taken to mitigate the damage. Vaseline is a miracle cure of sorts for dry skin, but the same ingredients (mineral oils and natural waxes) that help it excel in this endeavor are what make it treacherous to clothing items. For instance, oil-based products are extra-hydrating, but they're tougher than some other substances to remove from fabrics. 


The first thing to note is that time is of the essence. No matter which stain removal technique you choose, do it as quickly as possible for the best results. This is standard for most stains, but especially those of the oil-based variety because the oils latch onto synthetic fibers very quickly. So, round up your tools and start on the stain ASAP unless you want the piece to be relegated to the junk pile.

Never, ever rub a stain

The point of stain removal is to lift the stain out of the fabric's fibers. So, why do so many people incorrectly follow their first instinct and rub the stain deep into the cloth? Vaseline is no different and should be treated with care rather than brute force. Instead of rubbing the substance in, use the dull end of a butter knife or a plastic spatula to gently scrape the Vaseline off of the surface of the garment. If you don't have one of those kitchen essentials handy, the edge of a credit card will do nicely. Just take care not to push the jelly further into the fabric. 


Once that's done, use a clean, white towel to gently dab the stain to remove any extra residue. A paper towel, napkin, or other clean cloth is fine in a pinch. Getting rid of the extra goo will make it easier for the cleaning agent to hit deep down where it matters. 

Select the cleaning agent carefully

Choosing the right cleaning agent is hugely important to successfully removing a Vaseline stain from clothing. Because Vaseline is oil-based, it's critical to choose a cleaner that's a degreasing agent. Although that sounds fancy, most people have such an item right next to the sink in the form of dish soap! Dish soap is formulated with ingredients specifically designed to break down oils and greases in food to get pots, pans, plates, and the like squeaky clean. 


Of course, other cleaners also work well. Many spray-and-wash stain removers also contain degreasing agents, and some people use a squirt of liquid laundry detergent. If using the latter or dish soap, simply drizzle some onto the stain, then gently work the soap into the stained part of the fabric with your fingers or a clean, soft toothbrush. Allow the soap to soak in for at least 15 minutes before washing the item.

Rinse and repeat

The next step to getting a Vaseline stain out of clothing takes a little bit of extra patience. Once the degreasing agent has had time to do its job, run the fabric under hot water to flush the cleaner out. Once finished, closely examine the garment to see if the stain is gone. If any remains, repeat the process by adding more cleaner, letting it soak in, and then running it under hot water again.


Next, pretreat the spot with stain-remover spray, then wash the garment in the washing machine using the hottest water tolerated by the fabric type (this should be on the label). Once the cycle is finished, inspect the piece. If the stain is gone, you can dry it as directed, but if it remains, start the process over again, as putting the stained piece in the dryer can seal its fate and set the stain permanently. Once that happens, no amount of degreaser will reverse the problem.  

Try a combination approach

If you really love the piece and simply can't bear to part with it but the stain is being oh-so-stubborn, it's time to try a combination of cleaners to get the job done. Dry-cleaning expert Jonathan Reckles told Apartment Therapy that a duo of Dawn dish soap and a stain remover such as Shout can be used in tandem to tackle extra-tough Vaseline stains. If that doesn't work, he also says that rubbing alcohol can be used, although it's not the best choice for colored fabrics. If you go that route, test the rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous spot to see what happens before using it on the stain.


Of course, any time you deal with clothing, it's critical to mind the directions on the care labels. If a piece is dry-clean only, for instance, it should never, ever be treated in the sink at home. That can simply further the damage and prevent even the most skilled professionals from saving it.