Do Essential Oils Stain? Easy Tips to Remove Stains

I love using essential oils for their amazing health and beauty benefits. But I’ve had some costly experiences with oil stains on my clothes and home furnishings.

If you want to avoid similar headaches, read on to learn whether essential oils stain fabrics and possessions.

Do Essential Oils Stain? Easy Tips to Remove Stains

We’ll also explore stain prevention tips and safe oil use.

Will Essential Oils Stain Fabrics Like Clothes?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts packed with potent compounds. These can leave greasy discolorations or dark spots if spilled onto fabrics. However some oils and fabrics see more damage than others.

Darker Colored Oils Most Staining

  • Oils with more pigment like patchouli, clove and cinnamon risk permanent stains. Their deep hues don’t easily wash out.
  • Jasmine, German chamomile and blue tansy also have bold staining potential thanks to their naturally dark tones.
  • In contrast, lighter options like lavender, lemongrass and tea tree only occasionally stain with extreme overuse.

More Absorbent Fabrics Prone to Stains

  • Natural fibers like cotton and linen retain oil stains more stubbornly than synthetic material.
  • Fabrics like polyester and nylon resist staining but can still suffer damage when exposed to oils over time.
  • I’ve even seen pure oils deteriorate plastic bottles and synthetic clothing on contact.

Preventing Essential Oil Stains on Fabrics

While essential oil stains happen, taking precautions minimizes damage:

  • Always dilute oils in a carrier oil before applying to skin or fabrics.
  • Allow skin applications to fully dry before dressing to stop oil transfer.
  • Avoid adding all but a few select oils directly into laundry.

What Else do Essential Oils Stain?

Essential oils can ruin more than your wardrobe when used carelessly:

Wood Furnishings

  • Oils spilled on wood floors or furniture must be promptly cleaned before soaking in.
  • Quickly blot then wash the wood using a mild detergent and warm water solution.
  • Rinse cleaned area thoroughly and let fully dry to avoid future staining or warping.

Tile, Metal and Glass Surfaces

  • Tile, stainless steel and even glass surfaces collect spilled oil residues over time.
  • For these non-porous materials, directly apply a degreasing essential oil like lemon or eucalyptus to dissolve grease.
  • Alternatively, use an all-purpose cleaner containing citrus oils to cut through the film.

Bathtubs and Showers

  • White porcelain bathtubs readily show essential oil stains leftover from baths.
  • Removing such stains takes more elbow grease. Make a paste from baking soda and water and scrub diligently.
  • For tougher stains, apply a mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Just be sure to take safety precautions when using strong chemicals.

Can Essential Oils Remove Stains Too?

While essential oils can certainly stain household items, they also have stain fighting superpowers:

  • Lemon oil removes all kinds of stains thanks to d-limonene, a powerful degreasing compound.
  • Eucalyptus oil works similarly due to its high concentration of cineole, an antimicrobial grease cutter.
  • Team up either oil with an oxygen bleach powder made from sodium percarbonate for unbeatable stain removal.
Do Essential Oils Stain? Easy Tips to Remove Stains

These dynamic oils put the power of citrus solvents to work against pesky oil-based stains. I especially like using lemon oil stain remover on laundry and eucalyptus as a tub and tile cleaner.

Are Any Essential Oils Laundry Safe?

You definitely want to avoid dumping just any old essential oil into your laundry loads. However several gentle, low staining varieties pair beautifully with wash cycles.

Best Oils for Fresh Scented Laundry

The top oils for invigorating laundry without risk of fabric damage include:

  • Lavender – Calming floral aroma
  • Lemon – Bright, citrusy smell
  • Bergamot – Crisp scent with stress relief
  • Peppermint – Cooling, stimulating fragrance
  • Tea tree – Medicinal, pine-like odor
  • Eucalyptus – Sharp, camphorous breath
  • Grapefruit – Zesty, uplifting citrus scent

I like to alternate between relaxing lavender laundry and more energizing citrus or minty loads.

Using Oils in Laundry Safely

While using essential oils for laundry seems simple, caution prevents problems:

  • Always dilute oils in distilled white vinegar before adding to wash water.
  • Limit oil use to 2-4 drops per load to avoid overwhelming scents and staining.
  • Do an extra rinse cycle to eliminate excess oils before drying clothes.
  • Line dry delicate fabrics or clothes worn close to skin.
  • Wash and dry lighter and darker items separately as darker fabrics hide stains.

Follow these tips and your favorite shirts will keep their vibrant colors load after load.

I’ve had great results diluting 10 drops of lemon oil per cup of vinegar as a brightening laundry booster. But even just a couple drops of lavender oil helps freshen loads without risk.

Essential Oil Stain Prevention Tips

Stopping stains before they start saves time, money and frustration. Follow these simple guidelines to avoid disastrous oil spills around your home:

Transport Oils Carefully

  • Always securely close oil bottle caps and keep bottles upright when moving to prevent spills.
  • Place bottles in a spill-proof bag or tub when traveling.
  • Consider small plastic pipettes to control pouring. Rest pipette against inside of opening so oil trickles in slowly.

Use Care When Dispensing

  • Focus fully on measuring your oils — don’t divide your attention.
  • Only pour oils over non-staining surfaces like glass or metal trays.
  • Pour carefully and begin by tilting just slightly. Then gradually tilt more once oil starts flowing.

Apply Oils Over Protected Areas

  • Lay down cloth pads, paper towels or even garbage bags when applying oils directly on surfaces.
  • Move slowly and deliberately during full body oils applications.
  • Secure caps immediately and return bottles upright to shelves once finished.

Diligence goes a long way to prevent frustrating oil spots!

Can Essential Oils Remove Existing Stains?

While staying vigilant helps avoid new stains, you’ll still likely need to tackle preexisting oil-based stains sometime. Thankfully removing many such stains is possible with essential oils as cleaning agents.

Grease Stains on Clothes

For oil stained clothes, soak garments in a sink or tub filled with warm water and:

Let soak 30 minutes up to a few hours if stain persists. Then launder as usual and check clothing. Repeat if faint stain remains and avoid drying before fully removed. The ammonia and lemon oil help dissolve oil bonds so the oxy powder can lift them away.

Lipstick Stains on Collars and Cuffs

Lipstick is another ubiquitous oil-based stain. Removing it takes a two step grease cutting approach:

  1. Apply a few drops of eucalyptus oil directly to stain.
  2. Create paste from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Use old toothbrush to work paste into fabric.
  4. Rinse clean and launder as usual.

The eucalyptus dissolves and lifts oil residues so abrasive baking soda can scrub away pigment staining without just spreading it around.

Muddy Boot Prints on Upholstery

Ground-in dirt and oil from shoe treads mar light upholstery but respond well an essential oil stain attack:

  • Blot excess mud with paper towels
  • Spray tea tree oil multi-surface cleaner on soiled area
  • Let set 5 minutes to penetrate dirt
  • Blot lifted residue then vacuum
  • Repeat cleaner application if faint stain remains

Tea tree oil has excellent degreasing action against dirt and oil. Letting it soak helps lift mud so vacuum can remove it fully.


While essential oils promise all-natural solutions for health and home, their staining risks scare some away. But understanding which oils stain, taking precautions accordingly and responding promptly to any mishaps allows us to keep enjoying their benefits safely.

I’ve had to learn the hard way that respecting the power of these plant essences prevents problems down the road. Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, you can adore your essential oil routine without worry!

What’s your favorite way to benefit from essential oils at home? Share your thoughts below and be sure to subscribe for more helpful DIY tips!