How You Do: Removing Grease Stains from Clothing

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laundrylady.JPG[I used to think I knew everything…until I found myself stranded in the middle of adulthood with no map and no one to guide me when I got lost. I have learned a lot since then – from how to balance a checkbook to how to sew on a button – and will share my wisdom with you. Every Monday I will be back to teach you how to do something useful, even if it also happens to be completely random. Because, hey, you never know when you just might need to know how to change a tire…or mix a perfect martini.]

It happens—you’re out to dinner (most likely with someone you find attractive), you order some sweet-potato fries, and suddenly the glob of grease that was on its way to your mouth is blossoming all over your new white sweater/ blouse/ pants/ tank/ beautiful item of clothing. You might have to keep that glob around for the night (and swear to god that it is the only thing attractive boy is looking at), but you can get it out. Yes, even without mom’s help.

The first rule of thumb for getting rid of (embarassing) grease stains is more of a don’t than a do: don’t toss that sucker in the laundry basket when you get home and “deal with it later.” Detergent and water will NOT remove grease stains, so you’re going to have to get tough.

Now onto the do…

Perhaps the easiest thing to try is a stain-removal spray. You can find them in any store right by the detergents, and if you spray them on stains pre-wash and rub them in, they’re supposed to take any spots right out. I say “supposed to” because my spray is a little full of itself and doesn’t work quite as advertised.

If that doesn’t work, this page will totally bail you out. This person has compiled dozens of tips featuring numerous household items that will likely be able to save you in a pinch.

Most successful for me have been the following:

1. Dishwashing liquid. I have the foam-squirt kind of Dawn rather than the straight-up liquid form, but it still works like a charm. If you also have the squirt kind, pump the handle a couple of times and then rub the foam into the stains. If you have the liquid, pour a penny-sized amount on each stain. Press it in (it’s not necessary to rub too much), let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then wash as normal.

2. Baking soda. This won’t take out a stain by itself, but rubbing some baking soda into a glob of grease will absorb enough to make the stain manageable. You’ll probably need to couple it with something else, though, so don’t rely purely on baking soda to suck away all the grease.

3. Shampoo. I cannot figure out why this works, but it does. Pour a penny-sized amount of shampoo on each grease stain, and rub it over and into the stain. Let this sit for about 10 minutes, and then wash as normal. This can be coupled with other grease treatments, but it worked like a charm by itself for me.

A few more tips:

- Don’t wait around. You can still probably remove the stains if they’ve been there for weeks (or yikes, months), but it’ll be more of a challenge. As we all know from dropping toothpaste on our clothes and wiping it off right away, it’s easy to get a stain out immediately but hard to get it out as time goes on.

- Use hot water. Yes, it’s true that hot and cold water clean the same as far as washing your hands goes—and probably for most other things, too. But hot water kick-starts the detergent’s cleaning action, so you’ll want to use it when you’re throwing in a load that has grease stains.

- It’s not the end of the world. If you can’t get a stain out yourself, perhaps a dry cleaner or another cleaning specialist can. Or try calling up your grandmother—she’s probably full of old wives’ tales that just might work. And remember—it’s just a stain. If the piece of clothing is really a goner, maybe you can recycle it by sewing parts into a purse or using it to patch up an old pair of jeans.

All, of course, which I will teach you…

[Image courtesy of laundrylocker.com.]

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