Lestoil in laundry basket

10 Things You’ll Be Happy to Know About Lestoil

Have you ever had the occasion to wonder, “Where have I been all my life?” That was my reaction to learning about a simple heavy-duty cleaning product, Lestoil.

Apparently, Lestoil has 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.

Lestoil Collage

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

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.

Great for both soft and hard surfaces like laundry, shoes, carpet, garage floors, counters, linoleum, tile, patios and plastic, 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 minutes, hours, or even overnight. Launder as usual or in the case of upholstery or other situations that cannot be laundered, rinse and blot; 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. Lestoil is a registered trade name of Clorox for a heavy-duty multi-purpose cleanser product, although it contains no chlorine bleach, which we usually associate with “Clorox.”

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.

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 (Tall Oil Acid), 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. Complete list of ingredients.

To clean: Use one-quarter cup Lestoil per gallon of water, rinse as needed. For tough jobs, use full strength and rinse immediately. Works on grease, tar, oil, fresh paint, scuff marks, and stains. Brush when necessary. With prolonged use, wear rubber gloves. For laundry, apply Lestoil to soiled areas. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Launder in the hottest water recommended on the garment label. Do not use on wool or silk. Before use, test inconspicuous area of garment for colorfastness.

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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.

Lestoil is ideal for a variety of chores in workshops and the garage. Soak paintbrushes in a container filled with Lestoil to remove paint and soften the bristles. Full strength, Lestoil may be used as a garage floor scrub to remove grease and oil stains from concrete. Many car buffs also use Lestoil to clean engines and other areas in and around their vehicles. Prep walls for painting by cleaning with Lestoil first.

8. Even on carpet

Lestoil, diluted in water at a rate of 2 tablespoons to one cup water, will remove old greasy, ugly, stubborn, 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.

10. Availability

Lestoil is not a well-known product and can be difficult to find. However, it is readily available if you know where to look. 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.



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

Updated 2-16-22

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  1. Kathy says:

    I recently read your other Lestoil article (updated September 27, 2020) and purchased a bottle. I am curious to know how long it needs to be on the clothing to remove the stain; the earlier article stated “Next—and this is very important—I roll up that treated item and leave it overnight. (I’ve tried letting it sit for an hour or so, but find that is not long enough to guarantee a good result.)” This posting does not give the same directions and, since my husband really dislikes the smell, I’d like to use it for the shortest time possible for a great result.

  2. Melody says:

    I used Lestoil this morning on a pair of pants that I accidently got caulk (and quite a bit) on. A little soaking with Lestoil and it came right off. I love this stuff.

  3. Dawn says:

    I have been blessed with a store in my area, Mathews, North Carolina. (Renfro) is the name of the store. Lestoil is an amazing product!

    • Pamp says:

      Same here Peggy. My mom always had a bottle of Lestoil on hand so of course I used it after I got married 52 years ago, but about 30 years ago we moved across the county and could never find it until I went online last night and lo and behold, the local hardware store in the town where I do most of my shopping has it. Always has. I actually thought the Clorox company stopped making it. My parents moved to Florida 42 years ago and Mom hasn’t seen it since. I’m ordering her a couple bottles and having it shipped to her. She will be surprised.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I remember my mother using Lestoil to get tar from the beach sand off my feet. I don’t remember if it worked, but I still remember the smell. My question is that between Lestoil and Soilove, which product would you use for what type of stains?

  5. Tamara Coleman says:

    This is good to know about. Will it clean hard water stains in toilet. If not, what will remove the water ring around the toilet?

  6. Alma S says:

    I have used Lestoil for years and it does everything you say and more. One note of caution, I have always used it without incident in my front loading washing machine. I recently got a brand new front loading machine after 20 years and in that new machine the very same amounts and way of using it causes MASSIVE amounts of bubbles and suds, which are not good for an HE front loader! Use it sparingly in HE machines until you know what amount your machine can handle.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Good advice, Alma and one more reason to pour Lestoil into a spray bottle so you can use it judiciously and get it exactly where it needs to go—on that stain. I would not advise using Lestoil as a laundry additive into the detergent reservoir!

  7. Cynthia T. says:

    My husband is a plumber and his work clothes are awful! One cup of Lestoil in the washer and stains and smells are gone. Amazing stuff

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Great feedback, Cynthia! I have such great respect and admiration for plumbers. Oh, the icky awful challenges they have to deal with!! Can we assume your washer is not HE front loader? That would be a lot of Lestoil for that kind of machine that uses less water and can’t handle massive suds 😉

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