Salt has a well known ability to attract liquids. Just look at the bag of salt left in the kitchen for longer, especially with one end open and soon enough it will absorb so much moisture that it will turn into a gel. Salt has the ability to attract and extract moisture from air and fabrics. This is valid for oils as well. I know from my grand parents that if some oil or oily substance is spilled on to a fabric, which i would usually do holding a spoon or fork and then leaning over a hot soup or tasty salad, so if we spill some on our trousers or jumper we have to simply pour salt on top of it as soon as possible.
The white powder will absorb the liquid and make it easier to clean the fabric. This may as well be used for cleaning small stains on carpets.