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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Massage Oil Removal

By Dr. Laundry May 20, 2012

How do I remove massage oil from sheets and towels?

Oily stains benefit from more concentrated cleaning solutions.  Larger items like sheets and towels that have the stains spread over them can be presoaked for more complete stain removal.  To do this, use powdered Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster. Fill the scoop to line 3 and add to 2 gallons of very hot water (or the hottest water recommended on the care label) and stir to dissolve.  Fully submerge the sheets and towels (remember to sort whites and colors, and soak them separately) 30 minutes for colored items or up to 8 hours for white items.  When the presoak time is complete, drain the soaking solution and then wash the items as follows depending on the color:

–For white sheets and towels, use detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach in the hottest water recommended on the care label.

–For colored sheets and towels, use detergent and more Clorox2® in the hottest water recommended on the care label.

Air dry the items and check for success—it may be that if the care label recommended cold or warm water, you may not have achieved complete removal, but you can rewash the items in hot water and get much better results as long as residual oil has not been heat-set in a hot dryer. Or if you went with a shorter presoak time, you could try soaking for the full 8 hours. Something else to consider is your detergent choice–powdered detergents generally clean better than liquids so that can help, and you want to be sure to use the recommended amount.  Using too little detergent also can hurt cleaning performance.  I also want to mention the importance of using hot water again—sheets and towels generally can (and should) be washed with hot water for maximum cleaning.  When you consider the amount of body soil these items pick up, it’s really critical to get them as clean as possible.

Since you didn’t say how large the stained area is, I also want to address what to do if the massage oil is localized—that is you have a small spill in one area.  You can definitely pretreat the stain directly with a little liquid Clorox2® or liquid laundry detergent.  Apply a little product directly to the stain and rub in, wait 5-10 minutes (but don’t let the product dry out on the fabric), and then wash the towels as described above.

Finally, I have one last suggestion.  If your sheets and towels are colored, check to see if you can safely bleach them with Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  To do this, add 2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a small drop to a hidden part of the item.  Wait one minute then blot dry—no color change means the item can be safely bleached.  In that case, you would either presoak or pretreat the sheets/towels as described above, and then wash with detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.