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. I’ll have to try this. We had a elderly guest over this past week who had an accident in our guest room bed. She was beyond embarrassed and went ahead and washed and dried the bedding without telling me. When she got the nerve up to let me know of her accident a couple of days later, the bed was already made and there was a very faint light brown stain on my white fitted sheet. I’m fine with accidents….they happen. I’m not upset at all, but what worried me is she already washed the sheets and then baked the stain in with the dryer. I just bought these sheets right before she arrived with the intent on putting them on my bed after she left. I’m sort of feeling a little sad as I don’t have a lot of excess money to be buying things like sheets and I’m a little grossed out to be sleeping on sheets with a reminder of poop once being on them.

    1. Yeah, it’s tough when a stain like this has already been through the dryer. Perhaps try my DIY stain remover that’s 1 tsp Dawn dish soap + 2 tsp peroxide. Some folks add a bit of baking soda for scrubbing power too. Apply it and let it set for several hours or even all day. You can keep applying a bit more of the mixture as the hours go by too. Then wash and perhaps some more of the stain will come out. It’s mainly the peroxide that might help with a stain like this.

  2. Today I took a king-size comforter, a down duvet, and a rug to the laundromat because the machines are so much bigger. I washed the down duvet and the comforter together and when I dried them I dried them separately for maximum fluff. The duvet was okay but the comforter has greasy spots all over it like there had been grease rags in the dryer before I used it. How do I get them out? Since the grease wasn’t on there when they came out of the washer ( or on the white duvet) I dried it in the dryer! What to do what to do??????

    1. Sometimes WD-40 is suggested as a way to remove grease stains. Spray some on the stain, wait about 10 minutes, then work in some undiluted dish soap, and then wash. I’ve never personally tried it, but it might be something to consider. Another thing to try might be my homemade stain remover that is 1 part Dawn dish soap and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. After putting it on, let is set for several hours, and then wash. But because your item has been in the dryer, I don’t know for sure if either of those will work!

  3. I use Fels Naptha and it works wonders!! It’s a bar of soap and is sold at Walmart for under $2.00. I just wet the corner of the bar and rub it on the stain. I use an old toothbrush to scrub it gently and wash as usual.

  4. For really, really greasy stains (my family always forgets to remove chapstick from their pockets) I find baby powder or corn starch works well too. Even if it’s been dried already. I just put some powder on and rub it in with a q-tip or cotton ball but depending on the fabric, sometimes I use a tooth brush. I only use that toothbrush for cleaning, not my teeth. Not to worry! But be careful the won’t damage the fabric. I let it sit for a few minutes to let the powder soak up that grease. Even after the clothing has been dried, it works like a dream:)

  5. I live in South Africa, and I’ve never heard of Dawn dish soap,where would I find a similar product here?

    1. Dawn dish soap is known to be a good soap for cutting grease which also makes it good for laundry stains. If Dawn is not sold in your area, I would look for another dish soap that might say on the label that it’s good for cutting grease.

  6. I’ve also heard that you can rub some chalk on it and let it set,it will take the grease right out. I haven’t tried it yet, I keep forgetting to buy the chalk.

    1. Try powder instead. On greasy stains, I use powder (give it a minute to absorb), then Dawn. For extra measure and just to cover all the bases, I add a final squirt of Shout.

  7. Our 14 year old daughter finially recieved her Sacrement of Baptism last month on February 12 during mass.She wore the traditional,white poofy,top of the knees,sleeveless baptism dress and matching bonnet with white tights and the white maryjane shoes.Under her tights she wore the traditional white cloth baptism diaper with white plastic pants over it.At her party,she sat on a chair that had pizza sauce spilled on it and got a big orange stain on the back of the tights that soaked thru and stained the plastic pants as well.She has to wear the diaper,plastic pants and tights with her communion dress on May 21st.How can we get the stain out of the tights and plastic pants?

    1. Try Dawn, baking soda, peroxide mixture to remove the stain from the plastic pants. Rub gently with a soft cloth and rinse. This is how I remove red sauce stains from my plastic storage containers. GOOD LUCK!

      1. All you need is the dawn and hot water. mix a squirt of dawn and hot water from faucet put lid on and shake shake. if really bad sauce stains let sit a bit. than shake shake again and rinse. should be good to go! #moneysaver

  8. I also use Dawn for this problem, but right out of the bottle, not the foaming one and it works to. I don’t use the peroxide. Just rub it in and toss back in the washer/dryer.

  9. I have always used dawn dishwashing liquid on difficult stains. Apply to area, rub in and then wash and dry. If not all gone, I have used dawn liquid with my liquid laundry detergent rubbed in, washed a dried. May take one to few times, but mostly successful.

  10. This evening my Mom was telling me she used dawn dish soap to wash her whites and how excited she was, her whites came out really white. Now I see this. I will be using dawn.

  11. I went to get the Dawn Platinum ERASING Dish foam and could not find it anywhere. I went to Dawns website and does not show the product anymore. I used Dawn Platinum Direct Foam 5X and had excellent results. So maybe they replaced the item with this one?

  12. Dawn dish soap is truly the answer to greasy stains on your clothes. Try mixing equal parts Dawn Platinum dish soap, Ammonia (yes, Ammonia), and water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix, and spray on the stain, gently massage into the stain. Let sit overnight, and then wash. You will be greatly surprised at the results! I had never thought of using straight Ammonia in the laundry, but it makes whites brighter (I use 1 full cup of Ammonia along with my regular laundry detergent). Brighter whites, blood and grass stains gone, and there is NO odor! Just be careful not to mix Ammonia and bleach of any kind – you will end up with a chemical reaction that can be hazardous! Thanks!

  13. Next to my kitchen sink, bathroom & laundry room I have squeeze bottles that contain Dawn (hands down the best there is, especially on grease), some regular water and baking soda. I.USE.IT.FOR.EVERYTHING. As a cleanser, mildly abrasive, stains on everything. Here’s a trick though: tough stain, greasy stain, blood, grass, what ev? I pour this mixture on stain, rub a bit to soak in, I grab a spray bottle I have filled with white vinegar & spray that puppy till it’s all bubbly (that’s the magic reaction between vinegar & baking soda, it’s safe, just don’t mix things like chlorine bleach or other things without research). Make sure the stain is soaked good, give it ten minutes or so. Wash as per usual. I’ve never had the bleach out the fabric problem this way. Be careful though, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

  14. I feel the need to inquire about my situation… I have a light pink Under Armour hoodie (it’s my FAVORITE), I accidentally got pure Cumin powder on it. When I was switching it from the washer to the dryer, I completely blanked and threw it in the dryer as usual, only to remember the next time I went to wear it. Would Dawn work for that type of stain?? Or is it more directed to grease-like stains?? And, if that is the case, do you have any ideas of methods that would work for this?? Please let me know, and thank you in advance.

    1. Once a stain has gone through the dryer the chances for removing it really decrease. Sometimes I use a homemade mixture of 1 tsp Dawn with 2 tsp hydrogen peroxide. The Dawn helps with any oiliness and the peroxide can help with lightening the stain. Perhaps you can give that a try.

  15. I’ve also used goop hand soap with success. I rub it in and then run under hot water then wash.

    1. Sharon ~ My mom swore by Lestiol. It has so many uses. It’s just so hard to get now. I had my grocer order it for me. I had to agree to purchase at least three bottles. The rest was gone from the store in no time.

    2. I use that too, but found it was hard to find. Some stores are bringing it back. The only thing is I don’t like the smell. Dawn works better now.

    3. Yes LESTOIL
      Hard to find in grocery stores
      Can order on line
      Great for oil stains before and after dryer
      And scrubbed into soiled white baseball pants

  16. How about ink stains from a gel pen? Through the washer and dryer and it stained up a whole load of some of our favorite clothes.

    1. I think most the suggested remedies to try for ink gel pen stains often use rubbing alcohol, or some use ammonia, although I don’t know how effective either of those would be. It’s so frustrating when favorite clothes get stains. 🙁

  17. I am distressed about something and hope to A. find suggestions that work and B. prefer not to be scolded for caring so much. We have a set of absolutely marvelous heavy-weight white cotton sheets. They cost several hundred dollars and were a wedding gift. My husband is on a blood thinner and and a result, small wounds bleed – a lot. He doesn’t necessarily know this is happening. As a result, this set of sheets looks like it is polka-dotted on his side of the bed. The pillowcase, too, and a white coverlet that isn’t all cotton, but there is no fabric content tag. Does anyone have a solution? I would hate to have to just toss these sheets away.

    1. If the blood stains on the sheets have already been through the washer and dryer, I’m not sure if there will be a way to still remove them. The best stain product I have found for blood is Whink Wash Away, however I’ve always used that as a pretreat before washing and drying. However in the future you might find that product to be helpful. I recommended it to my elderly Dad who was also on blood thinners and often would get small blood stains on his clothing, and he said it worked great for him.

      1. Thanks so much, Bev. Hoping to hear of a miracle product from medical professionals who encounter this problem frequently.

        1. I’m a chef and wear a white apron when cutting meat I get pretty bloody. This works for me. Tilex spray cleaner for tile. I spray it real good let it sit at least a couple of hours then wash. Its an option!

    2. Next time use hydrogen peroxide on the blood spots, it removes blood stains. You should try it, it may even work after going through the washer and dryer.

    3. Hydrogen peroxide removes body fluids like blood like magic. As a nurse I use it successfully all the time.

    4. Hydrogen peroxide for fresh blood stains (that have not been washed & dried). For tough one follow up with WHITE vinegar and baking soda. Use an old toothbrush or laundry brush. Rinse with cold water. Repeat if needed.

    5. I find that any Castile soap gets out blood the best- with cold water not hot and the sooner you get it the better of course. I use Kirk’s Castile Soap bar or even Dr Bronners liquid soap and it’s great on most grease spots too!

    6. My 50yr old husband (also on heavy duty blood thinners) had a very bad seizure one night with continued biting of his tongue. I never thought I’d be able to save the white sheets nor Temper-peptic form pillow. Grabbed my regular laundry detergent ( ALL ) (mine said Brighter Whites on container) and poured on straight from the container to completely soak through into all blood stains. Threw everything into washer, put on setting for all whites/sanitize cycle then was shocked as everything was like new again! Now, I understand these sheets had not yet been washed/dried yet……… However I have done the exact same as above to white sheets which had been washed and dried several times, and never thought it would still remove an old blood stain, but to my surprise the stain was gone! ps: I waited only ten or so minutes before starting washer to let liquid soak in a bit…….NOTE: I DID ADD ANY MORE LAUNDRY DETERGENT into either wash load, as to not suds up the washing machine too much! ha! (I have to admit I never thought it would work since just running the washer with the same laundry detergent never got rid of the stains) but directly soaked up with a lot of laundry detergent had to have been the only reason it had done so.

  18. Hi Bev,
    There is an easier way. Try using Lestoil. It’s a thick yellow liquid that will remove oil, lipstick, grass stains and tar. I know because I have used it on all of these. It won’t change the color of the fabric. The tar was on the cuff of my pink pants that I had to cross a street they had just tarred and my pants drug on it. I first discovered Lestoil when my daughter then 1 1/2 poured a bottle of vegetable oil on my kitchen floor. I used newspaper to soak up the excess oil and then washed the slippery residue off with Lestoil. That was 46 years ago and I still use it for so many things.

  19. I use dawn and vinegar gets it out every time! my revolving tray consists of : Dawn and spray bottles of vinegar, peroxide and alcohol. One or some will take everything out. Oh and aways have toothbrushes for scrubbing them in.

      1. I agree Bev!
        I actually keep my used electric toothbrush heads and slip a plastic bag over the handle, snap in the old toothbrush and will use it to clean in tight and/or small areas. Saves your fingers & nails!

  20. I have a few shirts that have this type of stain. Gonna try to fix it with this method. I was wondering if there is a way to fix sun fading on clothes. I have a winter jacket that had part of one of the sleeves laying in the sun too long and now it has faded. Any thoughts, ideas?

  21. I use bath and body works foaming soaps for these type stains, they’re made from liquid softeners actually. Idk why not all our clothes get them but just some. But that also works amazing and gets them out too since I’m allergic to dawn can’t use that!

  22. 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!!

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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.


  29. 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.

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

  31. 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.

    1. Zout (not Shout) laundry stain removal spray (found at Walmart) gets out nearly all stains, including oil that has been through dryer. Spray, rub the fabric together, wait at least an hr (or overnight or longer) and wash. Comes out every time. Use peroxide for blood stains. Only stains I have trouble getting out are tomato/spaghetti sauce and some makeup (foundation) stains. Spray and wash is great for ring around the collar. Spray areas, rub and leave overnight. Repeat if needed.

  32. 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).

  33. 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!