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How to remove oil and grease stains from clothing

Whether it’s from wiping greasy fingers or spilling salad dressing, grease and clothing just don’t mix. Fortunately, getting those nasty stains out of clothing — and carpet — is not as hard as you think. Read on as professionals share their tried and true stain-busting tips. Good news — the tips are easy and you probably already have the supplies you need in your cleaning and laundry arsenal.

Stain removal basics: As always, you’ll want to work on the stain as soon as possible, but first make sure the item is washable and color safe. Not sure? Test on an inconspicuous area before you start. If it’s not color safe, bring the article to a dry cleaner, pronto! Next, blot — don’t rub — the stain, advises Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid professional cleaning service. Rubbing will only drive the stain deeper into the fabric. One last point: since heat sets a stain, make sure the stain is totally removed before machine-drying or ironing the item.

Now, let’s tackle that grease stain.

Cleaning expert Leslie Reichert says the real solution to removing oily stains is rubbing alcohol. Apply it to the stain using a light, dabbing motion until the area is wet. Allow the alcohol a few minutes to break down the oil, then rub the area with a simple bar soap, like Ivory. Work the soap into the stain and rinse. Let the area air dry and make sure the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process. With situations involving thick, greasy foods such as butter or peanut butter, scrape off excess grease before working on the stain.

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Out of alcohol? If you have a laundry pre-treatment product like Shout or Spray and Wash, spray it on the stain according to directions. Allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes before washing the article in detergent at the hottest recommended temperature. Since oil stains are hard to spot on wet clothing, air dry the item to make sure not a speck of the stain remains. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.

Another effective product for removing grease is blue Dawn dish detergent. Apply it directly to the stain. Work it in with your fingers and allow it to sit for 20 minutes or so before washing. Repeat as needed.

Dry-clean-only items should be taken to the cleaners as soon as possible. However, you can do a little first aid by scraping away any obvious grease, then sprinkling cornstarch on the stain. This will absorb some of the grease until you can get to the cleaners.

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How to remove grease and oil stains on the carpet

Dean Carter, president of Carter’s Carpet Restoration in El Dorado Hills, California, offers a simple way to remove oil stains from carpet: Clear Windex. After lightly blotting the stain with paper towels, lightly spray it with Clear Windex. Allow it to work on the stain for 2-3 minutes, then, using a clean, white towel, pinch and lift the fibers to absorb the oil. Repeat as needed. No need to rinse.

If the stain remains, contact a carpet cleaning professional.

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