How to Get Oil Pastels Out of Clothes: 8 Tricks

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If you are thinking about working with pastels, it is important to remember that they can be messy. Just as with paint, you can end up getting some pastel pigment on your clothing.

When this happens, how do you get the pastel out so you don’t have to relegate these clothing items to the back of your closet, only to be worn while cleaning and working on art projects? 

Luckily, it isn’t impossible, and there are a few methods you can use to get pastels out of your clothes.

You can even remove the pastel without having to wear out your arms by scrubbing at the stains for hours on end.

Obviously, it is a good idea to not wear your best clothing items when working with pastels and paint. But, there are times when we all do this, and we have to find ways to clean our clothing when messes happen.

In this post I am going to talk about a few of the best ways to get pastels out of clothing. Keep reading to learn more.

Are Oil Pastel Stains Permanent?

Unless you can act quickly and treat the stains properly, yes, they are going to be permanent. As soon as you notice a stain from oil pastels on your clothing, you need to stop what you are doing and start working on getting rid of the stains.

The longer you wait, the more likely it will be that the stains just will not come out. The stains will settle into the fabric, and they will always be there, no matter what cleaning methods you use. The longer you let the stain sit, the more difficult it is going to be to remove the stain.

Does Oil Pastel Come Out of Clothes?

Yes, if you act quickly once you notice an oil pastel stain on your clothing, and if you use the right cleaning method, there is a good chance that you will be able to save the clothing. This is worth repeating: the sooner you act, the better your chances of success.

What Can You Use to Dissolve Oil Pastel Stains?

Once you know what pastels are made of, then you’ll realize that there are many products available that will break down the oil pastels. This will neutralize the pigment and make it easier to wash away any stains from oil pastels.

Rubbing alcohol can often be quite effective at breaking down and dissolving oil pastel stains. The alcohol will break down the pigments so they will lift out of the fabric.

If you are going to try using alcohol, I advise working on a small section of the fabric before trying to tackle the entire stain. This will let you know if it is going to work, and if it will damage the fabric in any way.

Let’s take a look at some other products you can use to dissolve oil pastel stains and how to remove oil pastels from clothing:

#1. Industrial-Strength Cleaners

Using an industrial-strength cleaner such as Lestoil is a great way to effectively get rid of oil pastel stains on clothes. Make sure you use a good amount of the product.

Apply the product to the stain and then allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Then you can wash the clothing item as usual.

When working with industrial-strength cleaners, be sure to read all of the instructions carefully. You should also wear rubber gloves.

#2. Use Old Rags

While this may not be the best method to use, it is better than nothing. If you don’t have any strong cleaners or solvents, you may want to try absorbing the excess oil pastel with old rags.

This isn’t going to break down the oil pastels, but it will absorb any excess pigment. This is going to make it easier to clean the rest of the stain from the clothing.

Make sure that the rags are clean before using them to soak up oil pastel stains. Press the rag against the stain, and allow the rag to soak up as much pigment as possible. Then you can wash the clothing with detergent in warm water.

#3. Try Scrubbing with Dish Liquid

Dish liquid is something that can be used to clean so much more than your dishes! It can also be used to remove oil pastel stains from your clothing.

Some people think that the best dish liquid to use for this purpose is Dawn. To be honest, any dish liquid will do the trick nicely.

All you need to do is apply a little bit of dish liquid directly onto the stain. Then you can work the soap into the fabric using your fingers.

Once you have gotten all or at least most of the stain out of the fabric, you can wash it with detergent in warm water.

#4. Try Using Vinegar

Another effective way to remove oil pastel stains from clothing is to use white vinegar. You likely already have vinegar in your pantry, so you won’t have to spend any extra money on cleaning solutions.

All you need to do for this method is mix equal parts of water and vinegar. Soak the area with the stain for half an hour or so, and then wash the item as usual.

#5. Add Bleach to Your Regular Detergent

If you are having a particularly difficult time removing the oil pastel stain, you may want to try adding a bit of bleach to your regular laundry detergent. Just make sure that you read the label and follow any instructions.

The last thing you want is to make the problem even worse by bleaching colored fabric. I only recommend using this method if the clothing is white or another very light color. I also advise doing a test on a small part of the fabric first to make sure it will work and that the bleach won’t ruin the fabric.

#6. Baking Soda Works Too

I have been using baking soda in my laundry for many years. I have found that it works quite well at removing stubborn stains, including stains from oil pastels.

All you need to do is sprinkle some baking soda onto the stain and allow it to sit for half an hour. Then you can wash the item with detergent in warm water.

#7. Toothpaste May Help

Toothpaste can be used for more than just cleaning your teeth! It has long been used as a stain remover, and it can be used to clean many household items. I often use it to clean jewelry as well.

To clean a stain with toothpaste, apply a little bit of the toothpaste directly onto the stain. Rub the toothpaste into the stain gently with your fingers. Then you can wash the clothing item as you normally would.

#8. Fight Oil with Oil

Many of my friends call WD-40 “mechanic in a can”. But, it can be used for a lot more than working on cars.

WD-40 is great for getting rid of stains, including oil pastel stains on clothing. This oil contains fish-based solvents which will help to break down oil and grease.

Be sure to read the directions on the label carefully before using WD-40 to get rid of oil pastel stains. It will lift and dissolve the stain, but you need to be very careful when using this product.


If you work with oil pastels, chances are that at some point you will end up getting a stain on your clothing. Don’t panic, because as you can see, there are several ways to go about removing that stain.

The great thing about any of the cleaning methods I’ve talked about today is that they can also be used to clean other stains, including stains from acrylic and oil paints. The next time you stain your clothing while working on an art project, try one of these methods and save your clothes.

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*image by Krakenimages/depositphotos