Laundry can be a chore and a half, even on a good day. When you’re hunched over the sink trying to remove a particularly stubborn stain, it can become downright frustrating. And if you’re trying to remove blood stains or grease stains from your work scrubs, this task becomes even worse.
Sure, scrubs are durable. They hold up in the wash, whether you launder them with heavy-duty laundry detergent or not. But even so, the kind of stains you find on scrubs are also heavy-duty. And one of those awful, no-good stains that you’ll most likely have to deal with sooner or later is oil.
Grease and oil stains are challenging when it comes to removing stains from clothing. Your washing machine will end up fighting a losing battle if you try to remove those stains the old-fashioned way. So the quicker you remove these spots, the better.
If you’re not sure how to do this, or you’re looking for deep-cleaning suggestions, you’ve come to the right spot. Read on for our step-by-step guide on how to remove old oil stains from clothes.
What you’ll need to remove stains from your scrubs
The good news about most stubborn stains is that you can remove them without reinventing the wheel. To keep things simple, you’ll need a few essential tools:
- Paper towels for pretreating fabric and blotting out excess oil.
- Baking soda to act as a stain remover. A simple store-bought brand should do the trick, like Arm & Hammer.
- Liquid detergent or dish soap; you know, the kind you use for dishwashing. Dawn is a highly recommended DIY option for the best detergent for scrubs.
- Find yourself a toothbrush to scrub that stained area by hand. Once again, a regular ol’ brush will do. If you have no extra toothbrushes lying around, you can pick one up for cheap.
- A sink or bucket filled with hot or warm water to soak your fabric.
Optional tools that you can also use include:
- Q-tips instead of a toothbrush to scrub out minor stains.
- A folded piece of cardboard or a rag to protect the rest of your scrubs from spot stain removal.
When setting up your laundry space, you’ll also want to make sure your stain removal area has bright lights or natural lighting, so you can see exactly where the stain is. Greasy spots darken the longer they settle on material, so if your scrubs are already dark, like a form-fitting black outfit or a classic navy blue uniform, you’ll struggle to see the boundaries of your fabric-based problem.
How to get oil stains out of scrubs
Got all your supplies? Ready to learn how to get grease stains out? Excellent!
Just follow these simple steps.
Wipe out the stain
If the oil stain is fresh, the first thing you’ll want to do is try and remove as much excess oil as possible.
To wipe away that excess oil, gently blot it out with a piece of paper towel, and don’t rub the fabric while blotting it. The reason for this? If you scratch at the oil as you try to remove the excess, it’ll grind it deeper into the weave and make it more challenging to take out.
If you’re worried that blotting the excess oil will make it seep through the scrub fabric to the other side of your uniform, first stick a piece of cardboard between the front and back of your scrub shirt or pants to prevent any leakage. An old box, folded flat, will do.
Spread liquid detergent over the stain
Once you’ve blotted away the excess oil, make sure the fabric is lying flat. Add a small amount of dish soap or detergent to the problem area. You’ll need only a few drops of one of those best stain removers we mentioned above.
After you’ve applied the dish soap, use your handy toothbrush to scrub soap across the oil stain. As dish soap breaks down oil, it’ll help loosen the oil’s hold on the fabric.
Add baking soda
Sometimes, a liquid detergent isn’t enough to remove oil stains, in which case, apply a little baking soda, too.
Make sure the soap is still in place and you haven’t rinsed it out of the fabric. After you do, sprinkle a little soda onto the already sudsy fabric, and rub at it with the toothbrush, scrubbing vigorously.
After you work in the baking soda, let your scrubs sit for a while until a paste is formed. This ensures that it’s had enough time to work its magic on the fabric and helps lift that oil stain out of the weave.
Let the scrubs soak
After the baking soda is dry, soak your scrubs in hot water for roughly an hour. Next, drop the scrub set into hot water to rinse out what’s left of the baking soda and dish soap. Then, let it sit in hot water again for another hour to ensure you rinse out any leftover residue.
By this point, the stain should be all but gone. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done just yet though.
Wash as usual, then air dry
Wash your scrubs the way you would typically clean them. This means following their regular care instructions, whether that’s washing by hand, using a delicate rinse cycle or throwing that work uniform back into the washing machine on “regular.”
Use hot or warm water for this particular cycle. Once that’s done, air dry those freshly cleaned scrubs to completion.
(Rinse) and repeat if the stain is not gone
For very stubborn stains, this first-time wash may not do the trick. If you still see some staining, try repeating the process.
Still no luck? Pull out your last defense in deep cleaning by soaking those scrubs in color-safe bleach and hot water. Let it sit for about an hour before you go through your regular wash cycle.
After the wash cycle is complete, air dry again. And this, in a nutshell, is how to get oil stains out of clothes after drying.
What not to do when removing oil stains
Of course, there are a few things you shouldn’t do when removing oil stains, things that will only make the problem worse and leave you with a ruined set of scrubs.
Don’t wait too long to remove stains
While waiting longer to remove those stains doesn’t exactly spell the end of the world, the longer you let that oil sit there, the harder it’ll be to remove.
Don’t remove the stains with cold water
It may be tempting to use cold water for this, but cold water will be ineffective when faced with the hardiness of an oil stain.
Don’t rub in the stain when you try to remove it
Rubbing vigorously at the stain or pressing downward will have the opposite effect of keeping your scrubs clean, especially if there is excess oil on the fabric. By pressing down and scrubbing, you’ll be working that oil deeper.
If you’re looking for a few other tips on how to keep your uniform looking new, check out our article on how to clean scrubs the right way. Additionally, you can buy a new set of women’s scrubs or men’s scrubs if you’d prefer to skip the stain removal process altogether.