10 Things You’ll Be Happy to Know About Lestoil

Ever had the occasion to wonder where you’ve been all your life? That’s my reaction to a simple heavy-duty cleaning product, Lestoil.

Apparently, it’s been manufactured right here in the USA for decades and loved by many. Curiously, I’d never even heard of it—let alone used it like a rabid fan—until only a few years ago.


Sylvia Ward posing for the camera

On the off chance you, too, are not familiar with the powerful cleaner of all things hopelessly stained, here are 10 things you will be glad you know.

A close up of food, with Lestoil and Stain

1. Heavy-duty grease and stain remover

Lestoil (pronounced less-toil … get it?) can be used full-strength on stains—especially really difficult stains; the kind of stains you just give up on like ink, toner, grease, oil, scuff marks, blood, lipstick, nail polish, paint, grass stains, coffee stains, crayon and marker stains on every surface you can imagine. Even the sticky stuff left behind by stickers and labels. Apply Lestoil full strength to that stain, rub it in then allow it to sit for a few hours or even overnight. Launder usual; repeat as necessary (especially if the stain is old and the item has been washed and dryed repeatedly).

2. Really old

Lestoil has been around since 1933. While I have not been around quite that long, this makes me wonder where I have been, since I’ve only learned about Lestoil more recently.

3. So far 100%

Lestoil has removed every old stain I’d given up on as well as every new stain I’ve acquired since the two of us met—on clothing, carpet, concrete, and all kinds of patio furniture including molded plastic. It removed black stains that accumulated on outdoor furniture covers.


RELATED: How to Make Sure You are Using the Right Amount Laundry Detergent


Lestoil made short order of some ugly stains on cultured stone. It removed that gross, sticky residue that shows up on vinyl and plastic, restoring it back to its former glory.

So far, Lestoil has worked on everything I’ve tried, most recently this shirt (with apologies to all of my expert photography readers—I promise to work on my lighting ).

Lestoil and Stain

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

4. It’s soapy

Lestoil contains, among other things, sodium tallate, which is a type of soap. This means that once the job is done, it must be rinsed out, washed off or otherwise removed to make sure the item being treated doesn’t retain a residue that will attract a new stain.

“Lestoil is a registered trade name of Clorox for a heavy-duty multi-purpose cleanser product, used to remove extremely difficult laundry stains, dissolve water-based and oil-based paints, and clean grease, oil, paint, and adhesives from floors and surfaces. It was introduced as a dry cleaning fluid for laundry in 1933.”

5. Thick like syrup

Lestoil is highly concentrated. A little goes a long way. You want to use it full strength on laundry stains*—whites, lights, dark colors—any washable fabric) but in a small quantity; just enough to cover the stain. Then scrub gently (gently so as to not damage or affect the color or finish of the fabric) with an old toothbrush. Wait for 10-15 minutes and then launder as usual. For large jobs like cleaning tile or linoleum floors, dilute about one cup of Lestoil to a bucket of hot or warm water.

6. Also stinky

Lestoil has a strong odor and it’s not lovely. It smells like an industrial factory that is being cleaned with pine oil. That’s because it indeed contains pine essential oil—a powerful, natural cleaner and degreaser. This is another reason that you will always want to rinse Lestoil once its done its job. So far, for me. the odor from Lestoil has not remained long term.

Having said that, some readers find it to smell heavenly—the fresh smell of clean! I may come around to agreeing. Someday. Maybe.


A pair of shoes

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

7. Mighty warrior

Lestoil is powerful. It’s so strong, used full strength it can dissolve the finish on water-based- and oil-based-painted surfaces, laminate, and wood floors. Therefore, DO NOT use full-strength on these types of surfaces. Even if you intend to use it in a weak dilution, always test in an inconspicuous place first before you use Lestoil on any painted and wood surfaces.

8. Even on carpet

Lestoil, diluted in water at a rate of 2 tablespoons to one cup water, will remove old greasy, oily stains from carpet. Make sure the stain is saturated well, then scrub with a clean white cloth. Blot then repeat as necessary until the stain is gone. Be sure to rinse well followed by blotting to dry. Always test for color-fastness in a closet or other inconspicuous place.

9. Useful in a spray bottle

Lestoil is smelly. Did I already say that? I need to say it again. Seriously, this stuff is strong smelling which means you want to apply it judiciously. I pour my Lestoil into a 32-oz. spray bottle which allows me to apply it strategically. Whenever possible, I use Lestoil outdoors.

MORE: Some (But Not All) Spray Bottles are Designed to Fail

10. Readily available

Lestoil is not a well-known product and can be difficult to find. Lowe’s and Home Depot purport to carry it but I have yet to find a store in my area that has even one bottle for sale. But don’t take my word for it. Check Walmart, Lowe’s, ACE, and Home Depot where you live. Then rest assured that you can get Lestoil online as I do, where it remains readily available.

I’m quickly developing a love affair with Lestoil. It’s that amazing.

Updated 2-2-20

*always test in an inconspicuous place first; it is possible Lestoil could fade the color if you’re not working with a color-fast item—in which case you might have to decide between a slightly faded spot or that horrible, stubborn stain.

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  1. Becky says:

    My dad used Lestoil for everything when I was growing up. That smell brings back memories! He probably buys it at Menards, but I get it at Woodman’s…they have everything.

  2. Debbie Kemp says:

    I swear by Lestoil. Grew up in Maine and it was easy to find in most stores. We have been living in No. Carolina for 20+ years and can never find it. Every summer, when we go back to Maine to visit, the 2nd most important ” bring back ” is Lestoil. The first is…….LOBSTA!

  3. Millie Crouch says:

    I found Lestoil at a Rural King store. $3.29 for 28 ounces. I used Lestoil many years ago before there was so many cleaning products available. Pinesol was the other popular product at that time.

  4. dholcomb1 says:

    shocked you’ve only recently discovered it, it was a staple in my house growing up. mom always had it on hand. that was in the 70s and 80s. perhaps it’s more of an East Coast thing.


      Could be. I grew up in the late 50’s and 60’s. Lestoil meant that Christmas was coming. For some reason my mother chose Christmas time to do heavy duty cleaning – I am talking inside and out! Doing windows while the North wind blew. We lived in Maryland close to the Chesapeake Bay. For years I did the same thing until my husband stopped me. He wanted to know why I did such heavy duty cleaning with so many other things to do. I was making myself crazy and exhausted (bitchy). Of course he was right. I stopped cleaning at Christmas.

  5. crabbyoldlady says:

    I used this stuff ages ago, and yes, I remember that commercial 🙂 . I have seen Lestoil at my local Dollar Tree occasionally. It’s worth a look.

  6. Emily Booth says:

    Gosh. I remember Lestoil but haven’t seen it in years. I also remember a powdered cleaning product called Soilax which was fantastic. I am going to look for Lestoil & Soilax.

  7. CBLeigh says:

    When you were growing up, do you not remember the commercials, “It’s so easy when you use less toil”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HD9U8kWiMs

  8. Proudtexan51 says:

    After reading Mary’s post a couple of weeks ago about the things she cannot live without, I looked for a bottle of Lestoil when I was shopping at my local Super Walmart. I found it! I got a 48 oz bottle of Lestoil for $4.69. I have not used it on too much yet, I have some outdoor things I plan to clean with it. I did clean my smelly kitchen trash can though, and as Mary said it is very strong smelling. It did the job though. So check out your Walmart, it was on the bottom shelf in the cleaning supply area.

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