Do Essential Oils Stain? How To Get Rid Of An Essential Oil Stain?

Even though they are known as essential oils, most essential oils have a very water-like appearance and texture. This can be misleading and often leads people to forget that they are, in fact, an oil. Most people consider them as more of a fragrance or water-based product. This often leads to people being less careful when working with essential oils. They may accidentally spill the essential oils on clothes or furniture while working with them. While trying to clean up the mess, they may realize that the spot is not budging, leading them to the question, do essential oils stain?

Essential oils do cause stains. Essential oils are a type of oil, and oil can stain most fabrics that it comes into contact with. Handle your essential oils carefully and avoid using them on surfaces that may be easily stained, such as clothes, bedding, or sofas.

Although an essential oil stain may look different from a normal oil stain, it will definitely still be noticeable and easily visible. Essential oils often end up on your hands after you have used them without you noticing and can end up on any surface you then touch.Let us have a deep look at essential oil stains and some methods of removing them.

Do Essential Oils Stain

Do Essential Oils Stain Easily?

Yes, essential oils do stain most types of absorbent fabrics and porous materials very easily. Oil as a substance stains very quickly because it gets into the fibers of the fabric or material that it has been spilled on and holds on to it tightly. 

Oil stains are much more challenging to clean than regular stains and spills because water can not penetrate the oil to rinse it out of the material. 

For example, suppose you happen to spill some juice on your shirt. In that case, some water will wash it out because it will break down the liquid quickly. Oil is not broken down by water as easily. It will, therefore, not be rinsed out as easily.

Water can remove stains left behind by sugar, dirt, or food, but if an item has been stained with essential oil, using water alone may not be enough to effectively remove the stain from the fabric.

Essential oils are made by steam distillation, which is a process in which different parts of the plant are isolated, steamed, and pressed to extract the plant’s natural oils and fragrance

This means that essential oils are a pure and robust form of oil. Getting any of this oil on an absorbent fabric or porous material could cause the oil to immediately soak into the fibers and cling on to them strongly. 

Essential oils are far less thick than other oils, such as coconut or castor oil. This means that essential oils can penetrate fabric and run deep into the fibers much more rapidly than many other oil types. 

For this reason, essential oils can leave a stain quicker and more easily than most oils can.

Which Essential Oils Leave The Worst Stain?

Although there is not one essential oil that is more “oily” than another, some essential oils are darker in color than others. Dark-colored essential oils will leave a more noticeable stain compared to lighter colored or clear essential oils.

All essential oils will leave a stain if allowed to soak into fabric or porous materials. 

The essential oil most likely to leave a stain is the essential oil you use the most

Be careful to not leave your bottles of essential oils in places where they can be easily knocked over or spilled, be cautious about where you apply and where you use your favorite essential oils, and you will be relatively safe from oil stains.

Frequency of use aside, most essential oils will leave the same type of stain, albeit with a different smell, and will probably be as difficult as each other to remove.

How To Get Rid Of An Essential Oil Stain

To get an essential oil stain out of fabric, you will need to use a product that can break down the oil well. 

The oil will not come out by only using water as a cleaning agent because oil and water do not mix well, as we all know. This is true even when it comes to cleaning essential oils.

A very underrated and probably the most accessible product available on the market that will work very well for washing out essential oil stains is the humble dishwashing liquid. 

Dishwashing Liquid To Remove Oil Stains

Dishwashing liquids are explicitly made to break down fats and oils, so this product will generally get the job done very quickly easily.

If you find yourself needing to wash out an essential oil stain, hold the item with the oil stain in it over the sink, dampen the affected area slightly, and then apply a drop or three of your dishwashing liquid directly on to the oil-stained area

Use a damp cloth to thoroughly rub the dishwashing liquid into the stained area. Add more dishwashing liquid as needed until foamy lather forms on the item. 

Once the lather has fully covered the stain, try scrubbing it a little harder for around 30 seconds, leave the soap to soak into the material for another 30 seconds, and then rinse the soap out. 

This will generally do an excellent job of removing essential oil stains, but if any of the stubborn stains remains after this treatment, you can repeat the process as needed until the stain has been completely removed.

Stain Removing Laundry Detergent For Oil Stains

Another option for removing an essential oil stain would be to purchase a stain removing laundry detergent.

There are specific stain removal laundry detergents that require you to soak the stained item in the detergent for a time and then place it in with a regular load of washing in a laundry cycle. These detergents work well for bigger stains that require a longer soak time.  

These days, there are powerful stain removal detergents that eliminate the need for pre-soaking stained items and are more than strong enough to remove an essential oil stain in a normal washing cycle.

It is your decision which method to use to remove the stain. If all your “at home” methods fail, you can always take your stained item to a professional cleaner who will be able to get that stain out for you.

To remove an essential oil stain from items that are too large to be washed in the sink or taken to the dry-cleaners, such as sofas or mattresses, try putting baking soda on the area immediately and leaving it to soak for a while.

After rinsing off the baking soda, which should remove a good amount of the oil if you applied it soon enough after the spill, use the dishwashing liquid method with a cloth and a small bowl of water, being sure to keep the unaffected area as dry as possible.

Again, if this is not entirely effective and you are unable to fully remove the stain on your own, you may require a professional to get involved.

Contact your local couch/carpet/furniture cleaning company to help you get the stain out for good.

How To Avoid Essential Oil Stains

The best way to avoid getting essential oil stains is to take the following steps:

  • Always work with an apron on when working with essential oils. Using an apron will help make sure that you do not get any oils on your shirt while working with them.
  • Do not use your essential oils on or near surfaces that could be easily stained. Using your essential oils on your bed or sofa could end up staining them easily.
  • Be aware of using your oils on or around untreated wooden surfaces, as getting a stain out of wood is almost impossible to do.
  • Do not leave your essential oils lying around in areas where they can easily be knocked over. Keep your oils in an essential oil box or even in a cupboard, as long as they are out of the way and not at risk of being knocked over.
  • Always put the lid back on your essential oil bottle when you are done using it, as leaving your essential oil bottle open makes it very easy for your oil to accidentally get spilled.


Essential oils are easy to spill, and they can, and do, leave stains in fabrics and materials that are absorbent or porous. 

There are a few ways to remove essential oil stains if you have already happened to spill an essential oil on a surface that is now stained.

Dishwashing liquid and stain removal laundry detergent are both effective methods for removing essential oil stains.

The best way to prevent essential oil stains is to take extra precautions to ensure that oil spills do not occur in the first place.

Enjoy your essential oils whenever you get the chance, but always be sure to replace the lid when you are through, and try not to knock them over!

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Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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