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How Do You Remove Oil Stains From Whites?

By Dr. Laundry September 21, 2015

Q: I have four white shirts which have developed weird yellow spots all over them in random places. Mainly present around the cuffs, collar, pocket, sleeve. I can’t understand what the reason behind these stains is. These shirts are a part of my uniform and I can’t do without them. Please, please help me fix them. Any help would be appreciated. A: What type of work do you do?  If you work in the hospitality industry, particularly in food service, the random yellowing on your shirts could be caused by residual oil from food stains.  Initially you may not see any stains after washing the shirt, but if the oil isn’t completely removed (very common with combination stains that include an oily component) during washing, then after a while you will see yellow discoloration.  It would also be helpful to understand how you are washing the shirts.  Assuming they are part of a larger load of white or lightly colored items, do you see the yellow spots on other items? Not knowing everything about your shirts and wash habits makes it hard to give specific advice, but here are some general tips that should help you keep your white shirts looking sharp. For residual oily stains, try pretreating the shirts while they are dry with a little liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for hand washing dishes).  Use a good detergent—something that is particularly good at breaking up grease—and rub a little into each stain.  Let the treated stains sit for 5 minutes, and then rinse with a little warm water.  Next, wash the shirts in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Let the shirts air dry, and see how they turn out.  It the stain includes a colored component, then you may need to wash them again, this time pretreating them right before washing with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel.  Just apply a little of the gel directly to the stains and rub it in using the soft scrubber tip on the pen, and then immediately wash the shirts in hot water using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Again, let the shirts air dry. I hope this is helpful.  Please feel free to send me some additional information on how you are using the shirts, and how you have been washing them.  Your water quality could be another factor, particularly if you have high water hardness and metals like manganese or iron in your water.  If that is an issue, let me know that, too.  Thanks for writing! Dr. Laundry