4 Easy Ways to Get Butter Out of Clothes

published Nov 25, 2022
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Stainless Steel Butter Spreader putting butter on toast.
Credit: Sarah Crowly

Julia Child once said, “With enough butter, anything is good,” and most people happily agree. That’s why at some point in your life, you’ll probably end up with a butter stain on your clothes, whether from an errant piece of corn as you chomp down a little too enthusiastically on a corn cob, a wayward slice of butter as you’re baking in the kitchen, or a drop that fell off buttery crab legs. 

Butter stains can be tricky since they aren’t as easy to dab away as other pesky stains, but they’re not impossible to clean. Here are several ways to get butter out of clothing, so you can get your favorite shirt or pair of jeans back to tip-top shape without permanent grease marks.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

The Best Way: Corn Starch, Baking Soda, or Baking Powder

If you get a splotch of butter on your shirt, take any excess butter off with your knife and gently dab at it with a napkin to soak up extra oil. Avoid rubbing it, as that can settle the stain into the fibers. Afterward, you want to soak up as much grease from the cloth as possible, which is where corn starch or baking soda comes in.

What you’ll need:

  • Corn starch, baking soda, or baking powder
  • Paper towel

How to clean it:

  1. Sprinkle a loose powder like corn starch or baking soda directly on the stain to soak up the excess grease that will try to embed into the fibers of the shirt. 
  2. Lightly rub it into the article of clothing using gentle, circular strokes, and then leave the powder on until it changes colors and becomes crumbly. Remove it with a paper towel. 
  3. Repeat a few times until the powder no longer changes hues, meaning it has absorbed as much as it can off of the shirt.
  4. If your article of clothing is made from delicate fabric, Persil ProClean suggests leaving the powder on the stain overnight and then washing it by hand to eliminate the stain.
  5. If your article of clothing isn’t delicate or dry-clean-only, apply a drop of grease-fighting dish soap onto the stain and rub it gently in circular motions.
  6. Wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

The Quick Way: Dishwashing Liquid

If you’re pressed for time or don’t have any starches or powders nearby, you can also clean your butter blunder with dishwashing liquid. This is a good option if you dirtied your shirt or pants while eating at the kitchen table and don’t necessarily want to take off your shirt, but want to prevent a stain from setting in.

What you’ll need:

  • Clean towel
  • Grease-fighting dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Toothbrush (optional)

How to clean it:

  1. Jump up from your seat and run to the sink, where you can dab at the grease stain with a clean hand towel.
  2. eHow recommends pouring a generous amount of grease-fighting dish soap directly onto the stain, coating the entire blotch.
  3. Use the spray bottle to spray warm water onto the affected area.
  4. Use a toothbrush, bristle brush, or finger to scrub in circles, lifting the stain gently. Rinse it with water.
  5. Once you’re done eating, pop the clothing into the washing machine, and it should come out stain-free.