I love working with oil pastels, they are full of vibrant colors and creamy texture and are a shortcut to sketching my designs in oils before I commit to a full canvas and brush treatment. But every now and then they can be a nightmare when they get on my clothes. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent hours trying to scrub a stubborn oil pastel stain out of your favorite shirt. Each time it happens I always ask the experts how to get oil pastel out of clothes but I keep getting varying answers so I tried them out as part of an experiment.
In this blog post, I’ll share my tips and tricks for removing oil pastel stains from clothes, using real-time search results to back up my methods.
TLDR; Summary for how to get oil pastel out of clothes:
- Oil pastel stains on clothes are a common problem for artists.
- There are several methods for removing oil pastel stains, depending on the severity of the stain.
- Lestoil, dishwashing liquid/soap, rubbing alcohol, Multi-purpose cleaners and degreasers like Greased Lightning, vinegar, adding bleach to detergent, washing with baking soda, rubbing the cloth with toothpaste, WD-40 and using ice cubes are all effective methods.
- Some of these tips will work on most types of fabrics but not all
- It’s important to act quickly when a stain occurs to increase your chances of success.
- Preventative measures such as aprons and smocks can go a long way in keeping your clothes stain-free.
- The multi-purpose cleaner with degreaser worked the best. Make sure to follow the label.
Are oil pastels permanent on fabric?
Oil pastel stains on clothes can be permanent if not treated properly. It’s crucial to act as soon as possible to prevent the stains from settling into the fabric.
In fact, the longer an oil pastel stain is left untreated on clothes, the harder it will be to remove.
Does oil pastel come out of clothes?
Yes, oil pastel stains can be removed from clothes. However, it’s important to use the right method and act quickly.
The sooner you start treating the stain, the better chance you have of success.
What dissolves oil pastels?
There are a bunch of products you can try, the main thing each should do is break down the oil in the pastels and neutralize the pigment. Some products such as rubbing alcohol is an effective solution for dissolving oil pastels.
It works by breaking down the pigments and allowing them to be lifted away from the fabric.
When using rubbing alcohol, it’s important to work quickly and test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first.
So I have quickly discussed rubbing alcohol but what else is there? Let’s have a look.
Using Products Like Lestoil:
Lestoil is an industrial strength cleaner that can effectively remove oil pastel stains from clothes. Simply apply a generous amount of Lestoil to the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before washing the garment as usual.
Be sure to read the instructions on the label carefully and wear gloves when using Lestoil.
How does Lestoil break down oil pastels?
Lestoil is a heavy-duty cleaner that contains a mix of solvents, surfactants, and other cleaning agents. It is designed to break down and remove grease, oil, and other stubborn stains effectively. When it comes to oil pastels, Lestoil works by attacking the components of the stain in a few ways:
Solvents: The solvents present in Lestoil help dissolve the oil and waxy components of the pastel, breaking down the stain and loosening its bond with the fabric fibers.
Surfactants: Surfactants in Lestoil reduce the surface tension of the liquid, allowing it to penetrate the fibers of the fabric more easily. This helps to lift and suspend the oil pastel particles away from the fabric.
Emulsifiers: Lestoil contains emulsifiers, which help to mix oil and water. This allows the oil pastel stain to be effectively rinsed away with water when you wash the garment.
By breaking down the oil pastel components and lifting them away from the fabric, Lestoil can effectively remove stubborn oil pastel stains from clothing.
It’s important to remember that Lestoil is a powerful cleaner and should be used with caution. See if it is suitable for the fabric type that you are cleaning.
Washing with Left Over Rags:
If you don’t have any special cleaners or solvents at hand, you can try using rags to absorb the excess oil pastel.
Simply press the rag against the stain to soak up as much of the pigment as possible before washing the garment in warm water with detergent.
How does washing with rags break down oil pastels?
Washing with rags doesn’t actually break down the oil pastels but instead helps absorb and remove excess pigment from the fabric.
When using a rag to clean an oil pastel stain, you’re attempting to lift as much of the pastel from the fabric as possible before washing the garment with water and detergent.
Here’s how using rags can help remove oil pastel stains:
Absorption: The fibers of the rag can absorb some of the oil and pigments from the pastel, reducing the overall amount of stain left on the garment.
Gentle abrasion: When using a rag, you can gently rub the stained area, which may help loosen the oil pastel’s bond with the fabric fibers. However, be careful not to rub too hard, as this could cause the stain to spread or damage the fabric.
Physical removal: Pressing a rag against the stain helps to lift away some of the pastel particles, especially if the stain is fresh and has not yet set into the fabric.
While washing with rags can help remove some of the oil pastel stain, it may not be sufficient on its own to completely eliminate the stain.
Often, it’s best to use rags as an initial step to remove excess pigment and then follow up with other stain removal methods, such as using a detergent, solvent, or cleaning agent, to more effectively break down the remaining oil pastel and wash it away.
Dishwashing liquid or soap can be an effective way to remove oil pastel stains from clothes. Apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid or soap directly onto the stain and work it into the fabric with your fingers.
Then wash the garment in warm water with detergent. While many cleaning influencers say you need to use Dawn, this is not the case. I actually cannot stand the smell of Dawn and found Palmolive liquid to be just as effective.
How does dishwashing liquid break down oil pastels?
Dishwashing liquid is effective at breaking down oil pastels because it is specifically formulated to remove grease, oils, and food particles from dishes. Its grease-fighting properties can also help remove oil pastel stains from fabrics.
Here’s how dishwashing liquid works to break down oil pastels:
Surfactants: Dishwashing liquid contains surfactants, which are compounds that reduce the surface tension between oil and water. This allows the liquid to penetrate the fabric fibers more easily and lift the oil pastel particles away from the fabric.
Emulsification: Surfactants in dishwashing liquid also help to emulsify or mix the oil-based components of the oil pastel with water. This enables the oil pastel to be effectively rinsed away with water when you wash the garment.
Degreasing: Dishwashing liquid is specifically designed to cut through grease and oil, which are key components of oil pastels. By breaking down the oily substances in the pastel, dishwashing liquid can help lift the stain and remove it from the fabric.
To use dishwashing liquid to remove oil pastel stains from clothes, apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid directly to the stain, and gently work it into the fabric with your fingers.
Then, wash the garment in warm water with detergent as you normally would.
As mentioned earlier, rubbing alcohol is effective in removing oil pastel stains. Dip a clean cloth or cotton ball into rubbing alcohol and press it against the stain, being careful not to rub too hard or spread the stain further. Wash the garment as usual after treating the stain.
How does rubbing alcohol break down oil pastels?
Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is effective at breaking down oil pastels due to its solvent properties. It works by dissolving the oil and waxy components of the pastel, which makes it easier to lift the stain from the fabric. Here’s how rubbing alcohol breaks down oil pastels:
Solubility: Oil pastels consist of pigments mixed with oil and a waxy binder. Rubbing alcohol is effective at dissolving the oil and waxy components, as it can dissolve both polar (water-soluble) and nonpolar (oil-soluble) substances. This allows rubbing alcohol to penetrate the pastel stain and break it down.
Dissolving pigments: In addition to breaking down the oil and waxy binder, rubbing alcohol can also help dissolve the pigments in the pastel. This makes it easier to remove the color from the fabric.
Evaporation: Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, which means that it can lift and dissolve the pastel without leaving behind a residue on the fabric. This can be particularly helpful when treating delicate or sensitive fabrics.
To use rubbing alcohol to remove oil pastel stains from clothes, dip a clean cloth or cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently dab it onto the stain.
Be careful not to rub too hard, as this can spread the stain or damage the fabric. Allow the alcohol to work on the stain for a few minutes, then wash the garment as usual.
It’s important to test rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it won’t cause damage or discoloration.
Be aware that rubbing alcohol may not be as effective on all types of fabrics or pastel colors, so it’s essential to test its effectiveness before applying it to a larger area.
Multi-Purpose Cleaners like Greased Lightning:
Greased Lightning is another industrial strength cleaner that can remove oil pastel stains from clothes. Apply a small amount of Greased Lightning to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before washing the garment as usual.
How do multi-purpose cleaners like Greased Lighting break down oil pastels?
Multi-purpose cleaners and degreasers are effective at breaking down and removing various types of stains, including oil pastels. Theese cleaners contain a combination of solvents, surfactants, and cleaning agents that work together to break down oil pastels in the following ways:
Solvents: Multi-purpose cleaners contain solvents that can dissolve the oil and waxy components of oil pastels. By breaking down these elements, the cleaner loosens the pastel’s bond with the fabric, making it easier to lift the stain.
Surfactants: The surfactants in Multi-purpose cleaners like Greased Lightning reduce the surface tension between the liquid and the stain, allowing the cleaner to penetrate the fabric fibers more effectively. This helps to lift the oil pastel particles away from the fabric.
Degreasing action: Multi-purpose cleaners like Greased Lightning are specifically formulated to cut through grease and oil, which are key components of oil pastels. Its degreasing action helps break down the oily substances in the pastel, making it easier to remove the stain from the fabric.
To use Multi-purpose cleaners like Greased Lightning to remove oil pastel stains from clothes, apply a small amount of the cleaner directly to the stain, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then, wash the garment as usual.
It’s important to test these cleaners on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it won’t cause damage or discoloration.
Always follow the instructions on the product label and take necessary safety precautions when using any cleaning product.
Vinegar can be used to remove oil pastel stains from clothes. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and soak the stained area in the solution for 30 minutes before washing the garment as usual.
How does vinegar break down oil pastels?
Vinegar is effective in cleaning various types of stains, including oil pastel stains, due to its acidic nature and solubility properties. Here’s why vinegar is effective at cleaning oil pastel stains:
Acidity: Vinegar, typically made from acetic acid and water, has a relatively low pH, making it acidic. The acidity of vinegar can help to break down and loosen oil pastel stains by dissolving the waxy components and pigments in the pastel.
Solubility: Vinegar is a polar solvent, which means it is effective at dissolving polar substances. While oil pastels are primarily nonpolar due to their oil content, the vinegar can still work on the pigment components and loosen the stain.
Mild cleaning action: Vinegar’s mild cleaning action can be helpful when dealing with delicate fabrics that may not tolerate harsher chemicals or solvents. Its gentle nature makes it a safer option for many types of materials.
Deodorizing effect: Vinegar has natural deodorizing properties that can help remove any lingering odors associated with the oil pastel stain.
To use vinegar to remove oil pastel stains from clothes, mix equal parts of vinegar and water to create a cleaning solution.
Soak the stained area in the solution for about 30 minutes before washing the garment as usual. It’s important to note that vinegar may not be as effective as other cleaning methods on certain fabrics or more stubborn oil pastel stains.
Always test the vinegar solution on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it won’t cause damage or discoloration.
Adding bleach to detergent:
If the oil pastel stain is particularly stubborn, adding bleach to your detergent can help remove it. Be sure to read the label on your bleach and follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the fabric.
How does adding bleach to detergent break down oil pastels?
This one had me worried as I never use bleach to colors for obvious reasons of it making colors run. In any case I tried it on a t-shirt. I would recommend using a product that has bleach already added, usually labelled as “oxy-action”.
Adding bleach to detergent can help to remove stubborn stains, including oil pastel stains, because it works as an oxidizing agent that breaks down and lifts stains from fabrics. Here’s how adding bleach to detergent works:
Oxidizing action: Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is a powerful oxidizing agent that reacts with the organic components in the stain, altering their molecular structure.
This process makes the stain more soluble in water, allowing it to be more easily removed during the washing process.
Whitening and color removal: Bleach is particularly effective at removing color from pigments in stains, making it helpful in treating oil pastel stains.
It works by breaking down the chromophores (color-causing components) in pigments, which leads to the loss of color in the stain.
Disinfecting: In addition to its stain-removal capabilities, bleach also has disinfecting properties that can help eliminate bacteria and other microorganisms that may be present in the stained area.
Enhanced cleaning power: Combining bleach with detergent provides an extra boost to the cleaning process. The bleach works to break down and remove the stains, while the detergent lifts away dirt, grease, and other particles from the fabric.
When adding bleach to detergent to remove oil pastel stains, it’s crucial to read the label on your bleach and follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the fabric. It’s also essential to ensure the fabric you’re treating is bleach-safe, as bleach can cause discoloration or damage to certain fabrics and colors. Always test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to check for colorfastness and compatibility before applying the bleach solution to the entire stained area.
Washing with baking soda:
Baking soda can be used to absorb oil pastel stains before washing the garment. Sprinkle baking soda on the stained area and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing the garment in warm water with detergent.
How does washing with baking soda break down oil pastels?
Washing with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can help remove various stains, including oil pastel stains, due to its mild abrasive properties, alkaline nature, and deodorizing effects. Here’s how washing with baking soda works:
Mild abrasive action: Baking soda is a gentle abrasive, which means it can help to lift away stains from fabric by physically dislodging and breaking up the particles in the stain. This mild abrasive action helps remove the oil pastel from the fabric without causing damage.
Alkalinity: Baking soda has an alkaline pH, which can help to neutralize acidic components in stains, making them easier to remove. The alkalinity of baking soda can also help to break down the oil and waxy components in oil pastels, loosening their bond with the fabric.
Deodorizing properties: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, which means it can help to neutralize and eliminate any odors associated with oil pastel stains or the cleaning process.
Enhanced detergent performance: Baking soda can boost the performance of your laundry detergent. Its alkalinity helps to soften the water, allowing the detergent to work more effectively in removing dirt, grease, and stains from the fabric.
To use baking soda for removing oil pastel stains from clothes, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda directly onto the stained area.
Let it sit for about 30 minutes, allowing the baking soda to absorb the oil pastel and work on the stain. Afterward, brush off the excess baking soda and wash the garment in warm water with your regular detergent.
It’s important to note that baking soda might not be as effective at removing stubborn or deeply set oil pastel stains compared to some other cleaning methods.
Additionally, always test the baking soda on an inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it won’t cause any damage or discoloration.
Rubbing the cloth with toothpaste:
Toothpaste can be effective in removing oil pastel stains from clothes. Apply a small amount of toothpaste onto the stain and rub it in gently with your fingers before washing the garment as usual.
How does rubbing the cloth with toothpaste break down oil pastels?
Rubbing the cloth with toothpaste can help remove oil pastel stains due to the toothpaste’s mild abrasive properties, cleaning agents, and surfactants. Here’s how using toothpaste works to remove oil pastel stains:
Mild abrasive action: Toothpaste often contains mild abrasive particles that can help to lift away stains from fabric by physically dislodging and breaking up the stain particles. This gentle abrasive action helps remove the oil pastel from the fabric without causing damage.
Cleaning agents: Toothpaste contains various cleaning agents designed to remove stains and residues from tooth surfaces. These cleaning agents can also help break down and dissolve the oil pastel, making it easier to remove from the fabric.
Surfactants: The surfactants present in toothpaste help reduce the surface tension between the toothpaste and the stain, allowing the cleaning agents to penetrate the fabric fibers more effectively. This assists in lifting the oil pastel particles away from the fabric.
Deodorizing properties: Some toothpaste formulations also contain ingredients that can neutralize and eliminate odors, which may be beneficial in removing any lingering smells associated with the oil pastel stain.
To use toothpaste for removing oil pastel stains from clothes, apply a small amount of toothpaste (preferably a non-gel, white toothpaste) directly onto the stained area. Rub the toothpaste gently into the stain using your fingers or a soft cloth. I used an old toothbrush and the bristles worked better than my fingers or a soft cloth.
Allow the toothpaste to sit for a few minutes before rinsing the area with cold water. After treating the stain with toothpaste, wash the garment as usual.
It’s important to note that toothpaste might not be as effective at removing stubborn or deeply set oil pastel stains compared to some other cleaning methods.
WD-40 is known for its versatility. It can help remove oil pastel stains from garments. WD-40 contains fish based solvents that break down grease and oil. WD-40 can be used to dissolve the oil pastel and lift the stain from the fabric but you do need to follow a few precautions when using WD-40 for this purpose:
- Always test WD-40 on a small area of the garment to make sure it does not cause any discoloration or damage to the fabric.
- Spray a small amount of WD-40 directly onto the oil pastel stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Use a clean cloth or paper towel to gently blot the stained area, lifting as much of the dissolved pastel as possible.
- Rinse the treated area with cold water to remove any remaining WD-40 residue as it may leave a smelly and oily residue if you don’t.
- Wash the garment as usual, following the care instructions on the label.
Keep in mind that while WD-40 can be effective in removing oil pastel stains, it may not work on all fabrics or with all colors. That said, let’s see if these tips work on all types of fabrics.
Will these tips work on all types of fabrics? Will my fabrics get damaged?
While the tips provided can be effective in removing oil pastel stains from a variety of fabrics, they may not work equally well on all materials.
Certain fabrics, especially delicate or more sensitive ones, may be damaged or discolored by some of the stain removal methods. Examples of delicate materials include silk, rayon, and cashmere.
Before using any of the suggested techniques, always test the method on an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it won’t cause damage or discoloration. Follow the care instructions on the label of your garment, and if you’re unsure, consider consulting a professional cleaner for advice.
For delicate fabrics, it is best to avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents, such as bleach or strong cleaners.
Instead, try milder cleaning methods, like using a mixture of water and mild detergent or gentle rubbing with a soft cloth. Again, always test the cleaning method on a hidden area of the fabric before applying it to the stain.
Remember that while these tips may work on many types of materials, they may not be universally effective. If you’re unsure or dealing with a particularly valuable or delicate item, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice.
How to get oil pastel out of clothes – Wrap up!
Oil pastel stains on clothes are an unfortunate reality for all artists no matter how experienced you are. But with the information you just learned from how to get oil pastel out of clothes, the right methods and a quick response, you too can successfully remove even the most stubborn oil pastel stains from clothes.
Whether you choose to use commercial cleaners or home remedies, be sure to test the solution on a small area of the fabric first and always follow the instructions carefully.
And don’t forget – aprons and smocks can go a long way in keeping your clothes stain-free in the first place! (My wife added that last line).
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Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. Joseph’s art has been sold to private collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art advice and tutorials to copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com