It’s the real food equivalent of high cholesterol and an early death, I’m telling you.
I’m talking about a common hazard of the real food lifestyle – grease stains.
Sometimes I think there might be an alien in my dryer.
A greasy one who is sabotaging all of our solid colored shirts.
Either that, or our clothing is simply in the line of fire because my kids love dipping veggies in homemade Italian dressing and I generally leave the immune-boosting fat in my homemade chicken bone broth.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ll take these real food hazards over the very real health hazards of the junk food lifestyle, especially since I’m sure my family would figure out how to grease stain clothing while eating 100% packaged, processed food too.
And have you noticed that brand new, brightly colored clothing always gets a hit more than old junky clothes? Why is that!?
I check over my kids’ clothing before tossing it down the laundry chute, but somehow I usually don’t catch phantom grease stains until after they’ve been through the dryer, making them 5,729 times harder to get out.
I did some of my famous KS experimenting a few years ago, testing all the recommended home remedies for laundry grease stains. We had plenty of raw material to use as test subjects, believe me.
Here’s what works and doesn’t work to get grease stains out of clothing.
This has always been my first line of defense, with mixed results, usually heavily dependent on whether the dryer was involved, or not.
I apply dishsoap or undiluted concentrated soap directly to the stain, rub it in, add a bit of very hot water, rub some more for just a little sudsing action, and let it sit for a very long time (a day or more). I then wash in warm or hot water, provided I think the article of clothing can handle it.
Always try to make sure you’re the person to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and remember to pull out any grease-stained clothing you’re working on to air dry. If you fail, you don’t want to let the dryer heat touch the stain as it will set it in.
Here are some results on specific brands:
Shaklee Basic H
I’d always been told that this would get even dryered-on grease stains out, but it’s been hit and miss, mainly miss, for me.
Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap
A marginal yes, but more effective on grease stains that haven’t been baked on in the dryer.
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
This bottle went 2 for 3 in official testing, with definite improvement, at least, on a stain on which something else had failed.
7th Generation Dish Soap
A yes on my jeans, which had been through the dryer, a “not really” on a skirt with a stain that could have been who-knows-how-old.
Ecover Dish Soap
Performed quite successfully on two shirts that had both been previously worked on with a huge “fail” before.
Overall, I’d say your strongest dish soap is your best bet – they’re created to “cut the grease” in the first place, anyway, right? Many folks say blue Dawn in particular is a winner.
And with my grease stain issue, I have been willing to turn a blind eye to whatever ingredients might be offensive in a bottle of blue Dawn (cough, cough), which I now have in my laundry room (a bit of my mother-in-law’s that she donated to the anti-grease effort).
It has given the most consistent success in saving clothing lost to the grease stain monsters. Don’t tell the eco-police on me.
Last tip: Even if the article of clothing is “cold water wash,” wash in at least warm water…and if you hang to dry and the dreaded grease stain is still there? Go for hot.
Seriously. With more soap.
I had heard from readers that rubbing chalk into a grease stain would get it out. Hopefully the chalk in my daughter’s game was actually “real” chalk.
I used chalk on this pink sweatshirt which had been dipped in homemade ranch dressing – look at the difference above in how it reacted to a stain that had been around and through the wash/dry before (on the left) and the new stain that I caught pre-dryer (on the right).
The stain on the right was completely gone, but the stain on the left hung around. Chalk also failed on another “dryer-in” stain.
So…I would say chalk is worth a try, especially if a grease stain isn’t set in yet…but I still lean toward soap as the better solution.
I read about a laundry stain remover from Emily at Live Renewed and put a twist on it to test on grease stains.
In the photo of the pink sweatshirt above, you see the toothbrush rubbing in the baking soda with a bit of water. Then I sprayed with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water.
I gave it a “fail” afterward on the pink shirt, but it got out two large mysterious stains on my son’s gray sweatpants, which may or may not have been a grease stain, but definitely had been through the dryer already:
The lesson here? Try anything!
I did try this version of the stain remover on some mustard, my daughter’s favorite dip and therefore a frequent flyer stain on her sleeves, and it didn’t make a dent. Mustard is definitely another sidekick in the laundry battles at our house, and hardly anything gets it out, even a soak – except Branch Basics (new formula, even better!) (product being reformulated, check back later!) (I’m an affiliate). Love that stuff. It’s a totally natural, all-purpose cleaner (and now that I’m writing this, I realized I need to test it on grease stains!).
Borax or Oxygen Bleach/Vinegar
Emily’s original suggestion for removing stains, borax followed by vinegar water, did not make a dent in this uber-stubborn grease stain on my husband’s shirt. I also tried another twist on the method with that oxygen bleach shown in the photo, but to no avail.
However, on a second mysterious spot on those gray pants of my son’s, this combo also knocked out the dried on stain.
One reader surmised that if chalk knocks out the grease, maybe clay would have a similar effect and be even more “natural.”
I am sorry to announce that in three trials at our house, I’d have to fall on the side of “no.” It was worth a shot!
I have this tub of Biokleen dishwasher detergent that will no longer clean my dishes, so I figured I’d try it like oxygen bleach on the clothing. I rubbed it into a stain, dry, and used the vinegar, and what a disaster!
The shirt came through the wash, twice, with white powder stains still evident (below). Do not try this at home! (I still might – might! – try it as a soaking medium, but I’m nervous about it.)
The right hand side of this stain is the failed attempt using chalk, so you can see the before-and-after shots above.
These are recommended by readers, but I just didn’t include everything in my testing:
- Fels Naptha soap
- Ecover stain remover
Ironically, as I finished evaluating all this laundry, another grease-stained dress came out of – you know it – the dryer, so…
…I get to experiment more! (Can you hear the thrill in my voice?)
And also, do you want to come to my house and take care of mine? 😉
29 thoughts on “Got Grease Stains? Our Family Tested to See What Really Works!”
This is NOT for grease stains, but if you have food stains (which includes chocolate, fruit, mustard and even blood), the single most effective pre-treatment is also the cheapest! Just spit on it! Saliva is full of enzymes that are designed to break down the proteins in food. You want to make sure that the stain is fully saturated with saliva, and then let it sit, but I have even used this to remove the dried in blood from when my daughter skinned her knee, and wadded up the pants for a couple of weeks, letting a LOT of blood get really set in! I know it seems a bit weird or gross, but it is merely using the chemistry of the saliva versus the chemistry of the stain to dissolve it!
That’s so interesting, I’ve never heard that before!
I was having trouble getting grease stains. I tried dawn and it works for all the shirts that were stained. But this goes against my principles. So I looked for other options.
I found eco me dish soap. It got stains out in one or two tries, without removing the dye of the clothing as many of my experiments did.
Then I tried eco me laundry soap. It gets the stains out in 1 try.
It is available here
I use Lestoil on my grease stains. It’s a trick my mom taught me, and I’ve never had a grease stain it couldn’t remove. It’s an all-purpose cleaner that I buy at a hardware store, and basically the only thing I use it for is grease stains on clothing. 🙂
I use Granny’s too and it does take out grease stains-even older ones.
We like orange goop quite well. That has gotten most grease stains out when used right away, and even some old ones. Wasn’t pricey either.
I never used baby powder on my babies’ bottoms, but I read somewhere that it works great on grease stains and it does! I keep it in my laundry room and use it for that purpose only. Completely cover the grease stain with powder (don’t breathe!), let set overnight, launder, and repeat if needed. I once used it to remove oil from a shirt when I broke a jar of sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil. It took two treatments, but it worked. I’m also a big fan of foamy Dawn for stains. There’s not much I can’t get out with it.
I use my mom’s trick- Murphy’s oil soap rubbed in with a toothbrush. I think it works better than blue dawn. Fels naphtha is amazing but I don’t know how natural it is.
I’ve had almost 100% success with even FCLO and previously dried grease stains – blue Dawn, peroxide, and a little sprinkle of baking soda (applied in that order and scrubbed in with a toothbrush) – amazing!! Caveat: I did have one or two items that randomly came out with bleached spots over the stain (I’m assuming from the peroxide) from letting them sit by accident overnight. Best to only let sit less than 30 minutes and retreat if necessary. Most I’ve ever had to retreat is once though!
If you can use a chemical free product for stains or laundry or other cleaning, why use a chemical laden product, especially if you are trying to live chemical free as much as possible. The Shaklee Fresh Laundry doubles as a stain remover and is more effective than most chemical laden products in getting out stains. You also use one product for laundry and stain removal instead of 2 or more, thus saving money and packaging which winds up in landfills.
This might work for grease stains, I’ve used it for ring around the collar and it performed extremely well. It removed that stain like nobody’s business.
Shout is what I used to use and it worked all the time for every stain but I ran out and grabbed a bar of Fels Naptha one time and it worked! Now, I just use Fels Naptha for stains.
Forgot to mention that I use Dawn (the original blue) in the wash with my towels and rags, along with detergent. I use about a teaspoon and it gets all the grease out from kitchen rags and really cleans all the towels!
I just use Dawn for all stains. A little Dawn is not a big deal to me anymore, even though we are very organic and natural.
My daughter gets things stained pretty easily when we are at home, but I remedied that by having a drawer of “at home only” clothes. Those are the clothes with lots of stains that I refuse to spend lots of time and energy getting out. Laundry stress has gone way down since we implemented this idea! She still has a great assortment of regular clothes in her closet and drawers. However, if she gets one of them too stained up, she knows where it’s new home will be.
Our city recycles clothing, so when she grows out of her stained clothes, we can put them in our recycling bin.
I was hoping for a simple solution!
What ibe found to work best so far, you mentioned:
Fels Naptha soap
Ecover stain remover
I also discovered the best grease cutter on the planet for baked on food is baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and just a squirt of dish soap. If I put this on pans when they are still warm, I find the stuff wipes out almost like magic. I have found it cleans toilets and soap scum in the shower, too. So far it seems to work on some grease stains on clothes, but they have to be able to tolerate the mild bleaching effect of H2O2.
We keep a bottle of blue Dawn in the Laundry room. All spots on clothing get pretreated, and rarely do the kids have set in stains. Me on the other hand…..
Personally, I’ve found the best defense against food grease stains is a good offense.
I bought several aprons and wear them whenever I’m in the kitchen.
I’ve had good luck with blue Dawn and hydrogen peroxide. Didn’t seem to hurt colors and it worked on a set-in stain.
For grease stains (or wine stains, or any other stains) I use a product call De-Solve-It and it works every time. I’ve even used it in my hair to remove paint both latex & oil-based. Orange oil based & works wonderfully well on all stains. I can only buy this on Amazon. Originally purchased at WalMart but no longer able to find it there.
I use Zout. I have no idea what chemical horrors maybe lurking in it; but it’s fantastic on grease spots, even the set in by the dryer ones. Occasionally, I have to retreat a spot, but it’s never failed me!
I have used Granny’s stain remover to remove old grease stains that have been set in awhile. We just moved overseas and I packed several bottles in my suitcase so I have enough to last me until my trip home to the States. I find it at Hobby Lobby.
What I have the most success with is Melaleuca Solumel (I use it full strength and dampen the stain with water, then rub with detergent after it has sat for awhile), or Citrasolve if Solumel doesn’t move the stain, Granny’s Spot Remover (small yellow bottle sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond and elsewhere) is great too. Some stains will need the action of all of the above before they are gone. Until you are certain the stain is gone, never put your clothes in the dryer!
I agree with you on the use of the blue Dawn. I mix it with Hydrogen Peroxide and keep it in a squirt bottle. Works better than anything I’ve found.
I use a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen peroxide to original dawn. I find it gets most grease stains out. I have also heard adding more oil to the area (re-energizing the stubborn oil if you will) then sprinkling with baking soda to absorb the oil, rubbing it around, and finally brushing it off with a paint brush… I haven’t been that desperate yet though!
I enjoy reading your blogs.
Regarding getting out grease stains you mentioned that Shaklee’s Basic H was hit and miss. Was this the old Basic H or the new H2 which is twice as concentrated? Plus it is natural and biodegradable. No toxins.
But for grease stains, and most other stains, Shaklee has their laundry detergent, Fresh Laundry, which doubles as a stain remover. It has removed all of our grease stains on our clothes. Here is what Shaklee says:
When used as a stain remover, 46% more effective than OxiClean® Versatile Stain Remover and 33% better than Resolve® Max Laundry Stain Remover, and when used as a liquid laundry concentrate comparable to Method® 8X Laundry Detergent, all® small & mighty® free clear, Tide® Free & Gentle, and Whole Foods 2X Concentrated Laundry Detergent.*
Superconcentrated – one small bottle cleans 32 medium loads, the same number as a 100 ounce bottle of conventional liquid laundry detergent.
* Source: Sterling Laboratories. These performance comparisons were conducted on Oct. 8 and Oct. 14, 2013 and are valid only for the named products marketed at that time. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
I’ll be glad to send you a bottle if you are interested in trying it.
Thanks Tina! I’m a big fan of Shaklee’s basic H – I think I have the H2 version, but honestly, these photos were taken in 2012, so I’m not sure what I was using then. My little jar of blue Dawn is almost out, so I should test my various soap concentrates again.
I’ve had pretty decent luck with putting a drop of Eucalyptus essential oil right on the stain. This has worked even on already dried, old grease stains.
The only thing I trust now for all stains is Oxy Clean Max Force in the small blue bottle with red top! in our house, it’s worth it’s wait in gold! Not the cheapest at $3+ a bottle but worth it to save so many clothes! If I even think something will stain, I pretreat it with this stuff! I use natural laundry soap but bent the rules for the stain spray because it works!
I use the original formula blue Dawn because it works well. I used to use it to strip microfiber diaper inserts, as was recommended by the manufacturer. We now regularly use it to wash greasy dishes too (but continue to use 7th Generation for the non-greasy items). I decided to compromise because I’ve had to rewash dishes that weren’t getting clean from using natural detergents.
Yep, it’s gotta work to be worth it! 🙂 Katie