How to Remove Oil Stains from Paper

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Oil stains can be one of the most stubborn stains to get out of any type of material, especially a piece of paper. If you managed to get an oil spot on an important paper document that you can’t replace, it’s important to act fast. The sooner you start working to remove the oil, the better your chances are of leaving the paper oil-spotless. Either way, with just a little chalk or vinegar and a delicate touch, you will be able to at least reduce the visibility of the oil stain!


EditCleaning with a Vinegar Solution

  1. Create a cleaning solution with half plain water, half white vinegar. Combine of white vinegar and of plain water in a cup or bowl. Set your solution aside for now until you are ready to clean.[1]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 1.jpg
    • Vinegar is a natural cleaner that works like a mild bleach and can be used to clean many types of materials.
  2. Lay the affected piece of paper out flat on a hard, waterproof surface. Flatten it out as much as possible. You can place heavy objects on the corners to stretch it out and keep it flat and stable.[2]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 2.jpg
    • Remember that the sooner you start working on the oil stain, the easier it will be to remove.
  3. Moisten a cotton ball or swab with the cleaning solution and clean the spot. Gently and carefully dab the oil stain with the moistened cotton ball or swab. Be careful not to use too much of the cleaning solution as you could damage the paper you are cleaning if it gets too wet.[3]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 3.jpg
    • If the oil spot looks like it is getting too wet, dab it dry with a paper towel or let it air dry so that you don’t create a hole in the paper.
    • Keep dabbing rather than letting the vinegar soak in, until the stain appears to be lifted, then you can dry the area.
  4. Dry the cleaned area by dabbing it with a dry paper towel and letting it air dry. Once the spot is completely dry you can see if the stain was completely removed. If there is still an oil stain, repeat the process to remove as much of it as possible.[4]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 4.jpg
    • Keep in mind that this method will work better the fresher the stain is, older stains may not come out completely but you can reduce their visibility.[5]

EditUsing White Chalk

  1. Get white chalk and a small paintbrush at an art supply store. If you can find chalk powder this is ideal, otherwise just buy a piece of chalk. If you use a piece of chalk you will need to use a knife to shave it into a powder.[6]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 5.jpg
    • The paintbrush should be soft-bristled and of an appropriate size to dust the oil spot you want to remove with the chalk powder.
    • White chalk powder works well to absorb grease and oil.
  2. Lay out the paper on a hard, flat surface and smooth it out. Try to flatten out any folds, wrinkles, and ridges from the piece of paper. Take extra care to make sure that the part of the paper with the oil spot is as flat as possible.[7]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 6.jpg
    • It’s important to start working to remove an oil stain from paper as soon as possible so that it doesn’t have time to completely dry and set.
  3. Use the paintbrush to dust the oil spot with the chalk powder. Dip your paintbrush into the powder you are using and brush it onto the oil spot. The chalk will pull some of the oil stain out of the paper.[8]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 7.jpg
  4. Sandwich the paper between two clean pieces of white paper. Be careful as you move the paper and try not to disturb the chalk on top of the oil spot. If you knock any of the powder off of the oil stain, lift up the top piece of paper and carefully brush some more of the chalk onto the spot.[9]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 8.jpg
    • You can lay one piece of clean paper next to the paper you are cleaning, slide it carefully over, and then lay another clean sheet on top.
  5. Warm up an iron on low heat and place it on top of the paper for 5 seconds. Make sure it is covering the oil spot. Remove the iron after 5 seconds and check the oil stain, it will be lighter or possibly completely gone. Repeat the process as needed to continue to lift the stain.[10]
    Remove Oil Stains from Paper Step 9.jpg
    • Test the warm iron on a blank piece of paper first to make sure that it does not burn so that you don’t destroy the piece of paper you are trying to save. If it is too hot, lower the setting and test it again.
    • Depending on how set-in the stain is, this method may not completely remove it, but it will get rid of some of it.

EditSources and Citations

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