How To Get Vicks Out Of Clothes

  • By: Tiffany Peris
  • Time to read: 15 min.
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Vicks VapiRub is one of the popular ointments. The ointment is used to ease congestion, ease coughing, soothe sore muscles, treat toenail fungus, fade stretch marks, train pets, treat skins, repel mosquitoes, treat acne spots, and relieve headaches. Unfortunately, if one is not careful when using Vics, it can smear clothes and leave a greasy stain on any fabrics. But how do you remove Vicks from clothes?

The effective way to get Vicks out of clothes is to melt the ointment using iron and absorb it with an absorbent towel or apply dish soap on the stain and use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the soap into the stain. You can also use baby powder or cornstarch to absorb fresh Vicks on the clothes. The stained fabric can be soaked in vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or washed with a strong laundry detergent to remove the stain.

Does Vicks Stain Clothes?

As an oil-based ointment, Vicks can stain clothes and other fabrics badly. Nevertheless, when you treat Vicks stain well and the proper stain removal process is used, you can remove Vicks from your clothes and ensure that the ointment does not ruin the clothes.

Vicks VapoRub was initially known as Vicks Family Remedy. It was later renamed to VapoRub so that it could be distinguished in the market.

According to the packaging of Vicks, the ointment is made from petroleum jelly, camphor, menthol, spirits, oil of eucalyptus, cedarwood, thymol, and nutmeg.

The petroleum jelly, one of the ingredients used to make Vicks is mainly in semi-solid form and comprises hydrocarbons. As such, it is insoluble in water, and due to that, it plays a significant role in ensuring that Vicks is a moisturizer.

Since Vicks is insoluble in water, it can be challenging to come out in the wash. Thus, to remove Vicks stains from your clothing, you must ensure that the stains are effectively treated before washing the stained clothes in the washer.

Does Vicks Come Out Of Clothes?

When treated effectively, Vicks stains can come out of clothes. However, as is the case with other grease-based stains, the oils in the ointment can leave dark discolorations on your fabrics, and if you attempt to remove these discolorations in the washer, they will not come off.

If you wash the clothes stained by Vicks with commercial stain removers, the stains can come out of the clothes, especially if the stain remover is enzyme-based.

To save time and effort when removing Vicks stains on your clothes, you must ensure that the treatment method can work on a grease-based stain. So, what can remove Vicks on clothes?

As Vicks is insoluble in water, washing the stain with water will never work. But oils and grease are soluble in rubbing alcohol and vinegar. Thus, if you use rubbing alcohol or vinegar to treat the Vicks stain, you will be able to remove Vicks from your clothing effectively.

Since soap is a good degreaser, it can also be used to remove Vicks from your clothing. To remove Vicks using soap, you can apply the soap directly to the stain and wash the stained clothes with warm water. However, note that this method will yield good results if the stain is still fresh and has not been set in the fabric. 

Since Vicks is mainly in a semi-solid form, heat can melt the ointment and turn it into liquid form to be absorbed with an absorbent towel or a paper towel.

Baby powder, cornstarch, or another absorbent powder can also be used to remove Vicks since when applied to the ointment stain, the powder will soak up the moisture and eventually get it out of the fabric.

If you want to remove Vicks from the clothing effectively, you should always ensure that you remove the ointment immediately after you have noticed the stain. If Vicks stays in your fabric for a long time, the fibers of your clothing will absorb some of the ointment, making it a challenge to remove Vicks from the clothes.

How To Get Vicks Out Of Clothes: 7 Methods

You can remove Vicks stains from clothes by using various products that you already have in the house. For the seven different methods discussed in this article, you will most likely not require to make any purchases since you already have most of the items used in the seven different methods.

As is the case with any other stain, you always have a better chance of removing the stain if you remove it while it’s still fresh. Nevertheless, if you only noticed the stain after some time, don’t worry. Treat the stain with any of the methods discussed below, and you will be able to eliminate the stain effectively.

1. Rubbing Alcohol

You can remove Vicks stains on your clothes by soaking the stained clothes in rubbing alcohol. However, note that this method consumes a lot of time even though it requires minimal scrubbing.

Rubbing alcohol gets Vicks out of clothes since it can dissolve Vicks. Specifically, when the alcohol comes into contact with the stain, it will break down the stain molecules and make it easy to remove the stains with running water.

Since rubbing alcohol can bleed dyes in the fabric, it is essential that you first spot test a small section of your fabric with rubbing alcohol and only continue to use it if it does not cause any bleeding.

The size of the Vicks stain will determine the procedure you use to remove Vicks from your clothing.

How to use rubbing alcohol to remove a small Vicks stain

1. Position an absorbent towel or paper towel on the back of the stain to ensure that the oil in the stain will not spread to other parts of the garment.

2. Soak a clean piece of cloth with rubbing alcohol.

3. Using the piece of cloth soaked with rubbing alcohol, gently dab the stain and ensure that you don’t smear Vicks on other parts of the stained clothes.

4. Dab the stain until it is soaked with rubbing alcohol.

5. Leave the rubbing alcohol on the fabric for ten minutes.

6. Using cold water, rinse rubbing alcohol on the fabric before washing the clothing in the washer.

How to use rubbing alcohol to remove a bigger Vicks stain

1. Pour rubbing alcohol on a bowl or a big cup enough for you to submerge the stain in the rubbing alcohol.

2. Immerse the stained part of your clothing in the bowl so that the stained part is soaked in rubbing alcohol.

3. Leave the stain soaking in rubbing alcohol for fifteen minutes.

4. Using a clean towel or a soft bristle brush, gently scrub the stained section of your clothing.

5. Rinse the alcohol using cold water and air dry the garment.

6. Once the garment is dry, check to confirm that the Vicks stain has been completely removed. If you can see the stains, repeat the process.

2. Cornstarch

As a super absorbent, cornstarch can soak up Vicks stain on your clothing in a few minutes and ensure that the stains are effectively removed. This will be the best method if you don’t want to be involved a lot in the stain removal process.

1. Lay the stained clothing on a flat surface so that the stained part will be at the top. To ensure that the grease will not spread to other parts of the garment, ensure you put a paper towel behind the stain. A craft table or clean floor can be used as a flat surface.

2. Apply cornstarch on the stain to entirely cover the Vicks stain with the cornstarch.

3. Leave the cornstarch to sit in the stain for half an hour.

4. Remove cornstarch from the clothing by brushing it off with a soft bristle brush or shaking it out.

5. Check the garment to confirm that Vicks stain has been entirely removed. Repeat the process if needed.

3. Enzyme-Based Laundry Detergent

Even if you should never wash clothes stained by Vicks on the washer before treating the stain, you can use laundry detergent to effectively treat the stain before washing the clothes in the washer.

However, note that when using a laundry detergent to treat Vicks stain, you need to ensure that the detergent is enzyme-based. These detergents have enzymes that catalyze the reaction between stain and water solution. As a result, the stain molecules are broken down into smaller parts that can be dissolved in water and can then be washed away.

If your laundry detergent is not labeled, whether it’s enzyme-based or not, and you can’t be bothered to read the chemicals used to make the detergents, you should look out for its degreasing properties. If the detergent has degreasing properties, it is enzyme-based and would be perfect to use.

1. Using a blunt object such as a spoon, old credit card, or a spatula, scrape off any extra Vicks ointment on your fabric. This procedure is crucial since it ensures that you don’t enlarge the stain as you work on it.

2. Apply enzyme-based laundry detergent on top of the stain.

3. Using a soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush, scrub the detergent into the fibers of your stained fabric.

4. Continue scrubbing the detergent till it produces lather.

5. Leave the detergent to sit on the stain for ten minutes.

6. Wash the garment in the washer using a normal wash cycle.

7. Remember to air dry the clothes. Do not dry the clothes in the washer since if you use the dryer and the stains are not entirely removed, the stains can set in the fabric and become permanent.

4. Vinegar And Baking Soda

If the stained clothing is made of a delicate fabric, vinegar should be your best option to remove Vicks stain from the garment. However, note that this method might not be completely effective, especially when compared with dish soap or enzyme-based laundry detergent.

When using vinegar to remove Vicks stain from clothing, ensure you use white vinegar since if you use brown, red, or vinegar that is colored, the dyes on the vinegar could stain your clothing during the stain removal process. After removing the stain using vinegar, you must wash the clothes to get rid of the vinegar smell.

1. Mix vinegar and water in a washbasin. To ensure the right solution, mix vinegar and water in equal amounts.

2. Immerse the stained clothing in the solution and let it soak for fifteen minutes.

3. After fifteen minutes, remove the garment from the solution and wring out excess water from the fabric.

4. Place the garment on a flat surface.

5. Apply baking soda to the stain to cover stain with the solution.

6. Using a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush, gently rub the baking soda into the stain. The baking soda will scrub the stain and remove it from the fabric as you continue to rub.

7. Load the stained fabric into the washer and wash it through a normal wash cycle.

8. Air dry the clothing instead of using a dryer.

9. After drying, check the garment to confirm that Vicks stains have been removed. If needed, repeat the stain removal process.

6. Dish Soap

When removing Vicks out of clothes, dish soap is the most effective method to remove the stain. However, you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty since you need to use dish soap to scrub the stains.

But what is it about dish soap that makes it the best to remove Vicks from clothes? Dish soap is specifically formulated with surfactants that play a crucial role in breaking down grease, oil, and other dirt found in dirty dishes.

Specifically, the molecules of dish soap have two ends. One end of the molecule attaches to oil while the other end of the molecule attaches to the water. Thus, dish soap can grab small bits of oil and suspend them in the water. When the small bits are suspended in the water, they break up into tiny droplets in the water and are easily rinsed off.

Here is how you can use dish soap to remove Vicks stains from clothes:

1. Squeeze a good amount of dish soap on the Vicks stain. The size of the stain will determine the amount you apply to the stain. For minor stains, a halt teaspoon will be enough. For larger stains, a full teaspoon will be enough.

2. Using a soft-bristle brush or a spare toothbrush, scrub the dish soap into the stain. Ensure that you scrub the stain the right way so that you don’t make it bigger.

3. Rinse the stain in the washbasin with warm running water.

4. After rinsing the clothing, air dry it away from direct sunlight to avoid sun fading.

5. After drying, check the garment to confirm that the stain has been effectively removed. If you can see some stains, repeat the process.

6. Iron

One of the quickest methods to remove a Vicks stain from your clothes involves using an iron. However, to ensure there is no Vicks residue left on the clothing, you have to use another stain removal process after you have used the iron.

Before commencing to use iron to remove Vicks on your clothing, read the care tag of the fabric to confirm that the clothing can be ironed. If your garment is labeled do not iron, you should not use this method.

1. Using a blunt item such as a spatula, spoon, or an old credit card, scrape Vicks from the fabric. As you rub the ointment, ensure that you don’t spread Vicks to other clothing parts.

2. Place a thick paper tower on top of the stain and another paper towel beneath the Vicks stain. The paper towels will be used to absorb the heated Vicks once it melts.

3. Heat the iron to a low heat setting.

4. Gently iron the stain back and forth. The heat from the iron will melt Vicks, and the paper towels will absorb the melted Vicks.

5. Depending on the size of your stain, you will be required to replace the paper towels as they absorb Vicks.

6. After Vicks has been removed, let the garment cool down and once it has cooled down, check to confirm that the stain has been entirely removed.

7. If Vicks stain has not been completely removed, you can use the dish soap or laundry detergent as discussed in this article to remove the stain entirely.

7. Baby Powder

Just like cornstarch, baby powder is moisture absorbent. Therefore, when used to remove Vicks stain, it absorbs all the moisture, ensuring that the Vicks stain is effectively removed. If you have a small child, you most likely have baby powder in your house.

Here is how to use baby powder to remove Vicks stains from your clothes.

1. Position your stained garment on a flat surface.

2. Using a blunt object such as an old credit card or a spoon, gently scrape Vicks ointment from the fabric.

3. Apply the baby powder onto the stain so that the stain is entirely covered by baby powder.

4. Allow the baby powder to set in the stain for 20 – 30 minutes.

5. Use a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush to rub the powder into the fibers gently.

6. Continue scrubbing till you notice the powder changing its color.

7. shake the garment to remove powder from the clothing.

8. Check your garment and confirm whether Vicks stain is entirely removed.

9. If you still have stains on your garment, repeat the process.

How Do You Remove Set-In Vicks Stains?

The best method to remove set-in Vicks stains is to use a highly absorbent product. In this case, using cornstarch or baby powder that has already been discussed in the article would be your best bet.

As detailed below, you could also use baking soda to remove the old Vicks stain.

1. As with any other stain, use a blunt object, for instance, a spoon, to remove any extra Vicks ointment on the fabric.

2. Sprinkle enough amount of baking soda onto the stain.

3. Work the baking soda into the stain using a soft-bristle brush or an old toothbrush.

4. Continue scrubbing until you notice that clumps are forming.

5. Replace the baking soda once clumps form and continue scrubbing.

6. Shake the garment to remove all baking soda.

7. Treat the stain with dish soap or laundry detergent using a procedure already discussed in this article.

8. Wash the garment in the washer.

How To Get Vicks Out Of Clothes After Washing?

To get Vicks out of clothes after washing, you can use any of the seven methods explained in detail in this article. However, a highly absorbent powder such as baby powder, cornstarch, or baking soda will give the best outcomes. After you have used an absorbent powder, you can use dish soap or laundry detergent to ensure that Vicks stain will be removed entirely.

When removing Vicks stain after washing the clothes, note that the stain is likely to have set in during the drying process, making it hard to remove. Moreover, during the wash cycle, the tossing up and down of the fabric inside the washer can make any drops of oil from the Vicks go further inside the garment’s fibers, thus making it a challenging task to remove the stain.

Thus, if the Vicks stain has set in on your fabric, you might have to use different stain removal methods to ensure that you effectively remove Vicks out of clothes after washing.

How To Get Vicks Out Of Sheets

The ideal way to get Vicks out of sheets is to use the dish soap method that has already been discussed in this article. The surfactants present in the dish soap will cut through the Vicks stain and lift the oil and grease particles staining your garment so that the particles will be removed once the garment is rinsed. However, before starting the stain removal process, ensure that you scrub any Vicks from the clothing so that the stain does not spread to other parts of the garment.

If the Vicks stain on your sheets is old and has already dried and set in, you can use a dry-cleaning solvent. You need to soak a cotton ball or a clean tower with the dry-cleaning solvent and blot the stain until it is completely removed.

How To Get Vicks Out Of Everything

To get Vicks to stain out of everything, such as carpet, couch, and leather jacket, you can use any of the seven methods described in this article. However, since different methods can affect different fabrics, ensure that the technique used is ideal for the item you are removing the stain from.


Vicks can stain clothes. Since Vicks has oils in it, it is impossible to remove the stains with water alone or in a regular wash cycle since, in such conditions, the stain molecules cannot be fully dissolved.

To effectively get Vicks out of clothes, you can use cornstarch, baking soda, baby powder, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, iron, enzyme-based laundry detergent, and dish soap.