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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Massage Oils from Fabrics

By Dr. Laundry August 26, 2008

Q: I am a massage therapist. I launder my own sheets. My sheets (some white, some colored) are normal cotton sheets and are exposed to massage oils. Not only are the oil stains a visual problem, they feel waxy and have an odor. I am already washing them in the hottest water possible and use bleach on the white sheets. As I wash 30–50 sheets a week and the oil stains cover a large portion of the sheet, pre-treating oil spots is not an option. Do you have any suggestions to remove more of the oil from my sheets? Please help! Buying new sheets every couple of months is killing me

A: Not sure what your massage oils are made of but know that the extra herbs, etc. can definitely leave a lasting odor.

You are already doing the best you can without the pretreating and that’s a LOT of sheets to wash. If you are seeing residual oils and smells, then you need to be solubilizing the oils before they are exposed to wash water. If you can’t pretreat them, the only other suggestion might be a professional laundry. Discuss it with them and see if they believe they can deal with you situation. Give it a test run and see. I’m thinking something like dry cleaning where you have a high solvent content that dissolves the oils might do the trick.