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I cook in a restaurant and I need help getting grease stains out of my work shirts. Can you give me any ideas?

By Dr. Laundry April 12, 2016

Q: I cook in a restaurant and i need help getting grease stains out of my work shirts. Can you give me any ideas? Thanks A: Sure, I can help you with getting grease stains off your work shirts!  One of the best things to use for cooking oil is actually liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for hand washing dishes) because it is formulated for greasy dishes.  Note that liquid dishwashing detergent generally makes lots and lots of suds, so you only want to use it for pretreating and rinse it away before you put the item in a clothes washer; otherwise you could end up with excessive foam.  Here’s what you can try:  
  1. Work on the stains when the fabric is dry.  That is, don’t rinse them with water first.
  2. Apply a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to each stain and gently massage it in.  Wait 5 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.
  3. Next, if your shirt is white and bleachable (check the care label for the fiber content and don’t bleach it if it has any spandex), wash the shirt in hot water using a good laundry detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.
  4. If your work shirt has any color, or the shirt contain spandex, wash it in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.
  5. Air dry the shirt and check for success
  I know the air drying step can be a real pain, but it’s important—damp or wet fabric can hide residual oil left behind.  if you miss any of the oily stains when you pretreat with the dishwashing detergent, you’ll probably have some residual oil that you can get all the way out by repeating the treatment starting again on dry fabric.  It would be nice if have more than one work shirt—that way you can work on any greasy stains on the first shirt and let it air dry, and have another shirt available to wear to work.   Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks again for writing!   –Dr. Laundry