Help For Stains That Went Through The Dryer

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

One of life’s more challenging laundry dilemmas is how to get out a greasy stain that’s been through the washer and dryer already.

Is there any hope? Is it a lost cause?

When it comes to laundry stains I often feel like it’s worth experimenting a little bit.  You’re in that sad situation where you’re not going to wear the piece of clothing with the stain on it, but sometimes you can’t bring yourself to just toss out a favorite shirt or pants either.  So before you just give up and fling it in the trash, why not see if there might be some DIY solution?

One of my favorite homemade stain removers that I’ve written about before (more than once!) is a simple mix of Dawn laundry soap and peroxide.  I’ve used it several times with good success.  But there was one time I used it on a pair of brown sweat pants and it left a little bit of a light area where I had used it.  I think I may have left it set just a bit too long and the peroxide did some lightening.

Which brings me to my most current stain.  I had a hand lotion dispenser that was clogged.  I picked it up, started pushing on it, and then – yup, it was suddenly unclogged and a big blob of lotion squirted out onto the olive green long-sleeve T-shirt I was wearing.  {A T-shirt I like and wear a lot}.  I pre-treated it, washed it, and I thought it looked like it had come out so I put it through the dryer.

But then . . . oh no . .  the oily stain was still there . . . and now it had been through the dryer!  Boo!

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

I thought about using my favorite homemade stain remover, but wasn’t sure about the peroxide on this color shirt.  And then I remembered reading a helpful hint saying that Dawn dish soap in the pump dispenser can get out stains, sometimes even if they have been through the washer and dryer. So rather than use Dawn/peroxide mixture, I decided to just try Dawn by itself from the pump dispenser.

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

I’ve been using Dawn in the pump dispenser for a long time. However most of the time, I use my thrifty homemade refill. It’s been a great way to stretch a bottle of dish soap along for much, much longer and save money. But every so often the pumps on the bottles give out on me and I have to buy a new pump bottle of Dawn dish soap. And it just so happened that the bottle currently in my kitchen was not filled with my thrifty refill and instead was a new bottle I had to recently buy again. So I actually had the real thing for a change!

So I squirted some on the stain and rubbed it in a little bit.  I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then washed it and dried it as usual.

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

And  – {oh happy day} – the stain was gone!  It worked!

Now why did it work?  I wish I knew.  Is it because the “Dawn Platinum Erasing” soap in the pump dispenser is stronger than plain old Dawn or Dawn Ultra in the regular bottles?  Is it because the aerated foaming soap from the pump soaks into the stain better than the liquid? Is it because all the planets were lined up in a row that day?   Hmmmmm.  Not sure.

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

But the fact remains.  Putting the Dawn Platinum Erasing soap from the foaming pump dispenser on the stain did the trick. My oily stain that went through the washer and dryer is now gone. I probably shouldn’t question a good thing and just get my thankful groove on.

5-21-17 Update:  I tried this method a second time with success!  When I took a favorite yellow t-shirt out of winter storage, I found a shadowy stain on the front that must have gone through the washer and dryer unnoticed at the time, and then was put away for the whole winter.  The spot was of subtle (and rather hard to get a picture of) but it was definitely there.  BUT after using this same method with the Dawn foaming soap, I could no longer see any spot on the lower front of the shirt.  Oh happy day!

How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

If you too have an oily or greasy type of stain that went through the dryer, you might find it worth the effort to get a bottle of the Dawn foaming soap in the pump dispenser and give it a try.  Just squirt some on the stain, rub it in a little bit, let it set for 5 or 10 minutes, and then wash and dry as usual. It might work for you too!

As a bonus, you can refill the dispenser many times with my thrifty refill method.  I can stretch a bottle of dish soap along for a long time with this strategy and it’s one of my favorite DIY money-savers in the kitchen.


How to remove oily stains that have been through the washer and dryer

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  1. Hey! I love it when people try new hacks! I’ve tried this with no success but I have tried Ajax with the citrus on it, and it’s worked great! Maybe compare…just a thought.
    Have a wonderful day!!

  2. I’ve taken up what my Mother used decades ago: Fels Naptha. I found this bar soap in the dollar store. Old school, but works like a charm. Economical, easy to store in a recycled mayo jar, long lasting, and there’s no plastic jug to toss in the landfill. I also reach for Simple Green All Purpose Cleaner. It easily got an old lost-cause greasy stain out of a polyester crepe-type jacket when nothing else worked. Check their website for cleaning tips.

  3. If you put about 1/4 container of lemon ammonia and fill container with water, spray on spot with the dish wash liquid it comes out even better.
    ps… this SaMe MiXtuRe sprayed in a new mosquito bite will acTuaLLy ELIMINATE the bite!
    M. Reid

  4. Where can I find the Dawn Erasing Dish Foam? I’ve ordered it off the web several times and even though the picture shows Erasing Dish Foam, when I receive the product, it isn’t the same thing. Any ideas?

    1. Dawn products are made by Procter & Gamble, and their website still shows a Dawn foaming dish soap, but it is not labeled as Dawn Erasing Foam anymore, and is now labeled as Dawn Platinum Foam. I think it is still the same product, just with a new wording of the name on the label. So I don’t think you will be able to find any new bottles labeled as Erasing Dish Foam anymore.

  5. I have always used just Dawn dish detergent on my oily/greasy stains and they come out but I let them set longer than 5-10 mins. I never use peroxide bc just cleaning with it I may get a spec on my clothes and it bleaches it. I am not brave enough to use on anything on purpose. LOL

  6. I raised 3 boys and my go to during those years was also a dish soap. Palmolive, especially food stains. I’ve since added Spray 9, to my stain remover arsenal. Dogs being the mess makers.


  8. The Dawn Erasing Foam is also the perfect shower cleaner! It removes mold and mildew stain better and safer than stronger chemicals and no horrible smells.

  9. I also use Lestoil. Just rub it in and wash. No need to wait. I think the Dawn idea would smell better though.

  10. The best thing for completely removing stains is Lestoil. It’s works better than anything anything. The old stain could have been washed and dried 100 times and Lestoil will still completely remove it. Sometimes some stains are more stubborn but be diligent and just keep repeat using the lestoil until the stain is gone. It might takes a few times to do it but eventually it will work. I promise! If it’s your favorite pair of shorts the Lestoil method is worth using. The downside is your clothes will reek of Lestoil but just wash it again in your normal laundry detergent and the Lestoil smell is gone.
    You’re welcome.

  11. What a great tip! I had several knit shirts that had stains that showed up after the washer and dryer, and I was ready to throw them out! Tried this on them yesterday and they are CLEAN. Thanks for saving my wardrobe! I’ll pass this on!

    1. I don’t know if the Dawn Soap would be strong enough to remove castor oil. As odd as it sounds, sometimes WD-40 will remove it.

    1. Because the water stains are not greasy or oily stains, I don’t know if Dawn soap will work. If you give it a try I would also mix it with some peroxide and see if that helps (1 part soap to 2 parts peroxide).

  12. I will definitely try this tip. I have had great success with Fels Naphtha too after I’ve set a stain in the dryer.

    1. Yes, it’s definitely worth trying, especially if it’s a piece of clothing you’re not wearing anyway because of the stain. I hope it works for you!