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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Olive Oil Stains

By Dr. Laundry October 29, 2009

Q. What do you recommend for removal of an olive oil stain on a colored shirt? I have tried “Spray n’ Wash,” but that didn’t help this time. That has always been a good stain remover.

A. You didn’t mention what type of fibers the shirt was made from, or whether or not you had dryer dried the residual stain. Synthetic fibers (polyester) tend to “hold” oily stains tighter, especially after drying, making the residual stain more difficult/impossible to remove.

For colored items, I find that a good liquid laundry (Tide) or dishwashing detergent(Dawn) are really good for oily stains, especially since they have gone to the new 2X formulas. They have a higher concentration of surfactants and solvent than the Spray ‘n Wash. Pretreat by applying product to the stained area, rub into the stain (you might want to do this from the back of the stain), wait 3-5 minutes, then wash in the warmest water recommended on the care label with detergent and Clorox2® Stain Fighter & Color Booster, our oxygen bleach based on hydrogen peroxide. Check for success as another treatment may be needed. It may be best to air dry the shirt if the stain is colorless/harder to see.