Blue green jar of  mentholated topical ointment

Vicks ointment for chest congestion contains several aromatic essential oils as well as petrolatum. Because of these oily ingredients, Vicks will not rub easily off the skin, nor will it wash easily from the hair with just warm water or even regular shampooing. You'll need to use more than shampoo to remove this greasy ointment--fortunately, one product that works very well for getting ointment out of hair is probably already in your kitchen.

Use dry paper towels to get as much of the ointment out of the hair as you can. Wrapping the towel around the base of the hair shafts and gently pull outward. Discard the used towel each time and use a new one to get more Vicks out.

Rub the dishwashing liquid directly into the hair. Choose a dishwashing liquid that is formulated for cutting grease. This will help dissolve the Vicks, just as the dishwashing liquid dissolves cooking grease. Leave it on the hair for five minutes.

Rinse your hair with warm water. Do not let the water drip into the eyes--the rinse water will contain diluted detergent and Vicks, which may cause severe eye irritation.

Shampoo hair again with a tablespoon of the detergent, just as if you were shampooing with regular shampoo. Lather it up well and rinse with warm water.

Apply a shampoo for oily hair. This should get rid of leftover detergent and Vicks and leave a better scent in your hair.

Rinse hair well and towel dry. If hair still smells of Vicks when dry, wash it again with the shampoo.


  • The scent of Vicks will be more difficult to get out than the ointment itself--the odor should dissipate within a few hours, however, and is not harmful.

    If the ointment is on a pet's coat, use the same method to try to remove the Vicks. Try to prevent the pet from licking the area until you've removed it all. You can also use grooming scissors to simply cut off the affected hair.