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.


Woman Thrilled of the Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

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.

Lestoil Heavy Duty CleanerLestoil Heavy Duty Cleaner

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.

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.

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 ).

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

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.”

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.

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.


Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

Before After Results of Lestoil Heavy-Duty Stain Treatment

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.

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.

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

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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55 replies
  1. Deb Blonski says:

    I’ve been a Lestoil user forever. My mom used it mostly on laundry when I was a kid in the 50s and 60s so it’s always been a staple on our shelf. I’m glad to learn about all Mary’s uses with it! It’s smell quickly dissipates so don’t be scared to try it because of that. I have a big bottle on my laundry room shelf at all times. Toothbrushes and Lestoil go together!

  2. Emily says:

    So a little Picasso lady found a sharpie & got loose last night. Bedspread, blanket & chairs are designer now you could say. My friend’s family has a real estate company & they said Lestoil will work on fabrics to remove sharpie. Has anyone ever tried this?

  3. Shelly Waite says:

    Can you use it like detergent to wash sweaters? I came across lestoil when I was researching how to wash sweaters with Murphy’s oil soap, but still can’t find anything about it. Years ago I knew a women who claimed that’s all she used on her sweaters and she had 20 year old sweaters that looked brand new, not a single ball on them, but I can’t find any effidance online how to use ot in the wash or that it’s used for that purpose at all.

  4. Priscilla says:

    Mary: I wrote to you over 20 years ago to sing the praises of Lestoil. At that time I had already been using it for a decade. My letter must have slipped through the cracks. When the price went up I discovered that I could dilute it with about 25% water and still get excellent results. I have even removed hair dye from a throw rug with it. Can’t be without it.

  5. Kathy says:

    I’ve used Lestoil for years. The trick to using it is to not rub it in. It works much better if you just put it on the stain, let it sit for a bit, then launder.

  6. Sandra says:

    When I was growing up my mom used Lestoil. But then I forgot about it because I never saw it in the stores. After reading your article I ordered a bottle online. It is great! And I don’t think the smell is bad at all. We are using it this weekend to clean the grout between the tiles in our kitchen. Works much better than any of the supposed grout cleaners.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I can’t guarantee great results, but honestly Elysha, I’d sure give it a try on both of these items. If they’re unusable in their stained condition, what have you got to lose? I’d start with a mild dilution of 2 tablespoons Lestoil to 1 cup warm water. Then I’d spray that stain and let it sit. Then gently blot/rinse until you have removed all of the Lestoil—and the stain with it! Let’s hope. If it doubt, test in an inconspicuous place.

  7. It's Me says:

    I’ve known about Lestoil all my life. EVERYTIME I smell it I think of spring cleaning with my mother. (& I LOVE the smell) It’s starting to get harder & harder to find though. I sent my daughter this article & she just messaged me about how She knew about it All her life thanks to me & also loves the smell. So I guess I must thank my mother as well. THANKS MOM!!


    I am 63. I love this stuff! My mother used it all the time. She also used Fells Naptha (she just called it yellow laundry soap) – both got everything out except for blood – for that I use peroxide.

  9. Jackie says:

    When I was young we had a joke we used to pass around. A little boy was sent to the store to buy some for his mother and the next thing he knew he was at the pearly gates and St, Peter asked him how he got there so fast and the boy replied “It’s easy when you use lestoil”. I haven’t heard of it for years (I have been married 48 years) and thought they stopped making it like all the other things I used like soap and shampoo

  10. Gina Stevens says:

    Mary, I’m with those who grew up with Lestoil; we like the smell. To us, it equates to cleanliness! But, once again I learned something new from you and it got me to thinking. I didn’t know Lestoil was was originally a dry cleaning agent, but I remember our car smelling strongly of “something” whenever my mother picked my father’s suits up at the dry cleaners. Yes, it was Lestoil!

  11. Mrsslam824 says:

    Lestoil takes out the greasy stains that are on my husband’s and son’s work coats. The coats are the bright yellow ones with reflective strips. The coats look new when I use lestoil. It does take a little elbow grease because of how dirty they are but they look new after being washed and dried. I love it! Thank you for writing about it!

  12. bigmama-chicago says:

    In stock at HD Lincolnwood IL and WalMart Super Store in Lincolnwood IL Had lost track of it, so glad you brought it up. Memories of a bygone era when clean meant clean. Great smell!!! Pine Sol too heavy ugh!

  13. Tybee Boy says:

    I have 2 questions:
    Is it safe to use in washing machines. Since it is such a good degreaser, I am wondering if it will dissolve the agitator lubrication.
    Does it work on ring around the collar and cuff??? Haven’t found anything that really works well since Wisk was discontinued.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I use it on laundry stains, before they go into the washer. I don’t pour it into the machine. Excellent on collar and cuff rings. I find no warnings at all that it might damage your machine used in this way. Hope that helps!

  14. Betty Ward-Whiteman says:

    I’ve been using it for at least 45 years. Laundry,
    paint brushes, my boys hated me cause thier baseball pants were pure white.
    Ink in carpet. It’s my go to. I’ve always found it at IGA stores. Our last one closed..

  15. Sandra says:

    Turquoise blue marker bled onto one of my quilt blocks. I first used rubbing alcohol and that took around seventy five percent of it out. Then I looked up Lestoil and tried it. The block was very wet w water by this time and I was wondering if this is the reason it didn’t work very well if at all.

  16. bigmama-chicago says:

    Lestoil available at HD in chicagoland (only checked north and north suburbs) currently about 150 bottles 48 oz. apprx $6.50 @

  17. jenni says:

    I can remember my grandmother using Lestoil, I Literally just used it to mop my floors. The smell is HEAVENLY not even remotely industrial or foul smelling!

      • ELAINE WILLIAMS says:

        Yes! Me too! I love the smell of Lestoil. To me it equates – clean. Not perfumed – think overuse of Downy fabric softener. My mother in law had a serious Downy habit. Everything she washed felt oily!

  18. Lois Vanmarter says:

    This is an amazing product and I like the smell…reminds me of my childhood when my mom washed the floor it was sparkling clean! It does a great job on my husband’ greasy work clothes!

  19. CJ says:

    I love Lestoil! I had ants coming up through my kitchen sink and nothing would stop them. Tried all kind of pest sprays and remedies. I read about cinnamon and ants didn’t like the smell, well that didn’t work. Now knowing ants are smell sensitive I sprayed lestoil in the sink thinking they might not like the smell – well that did the trick, no more ants!

  20. nothingoes says:

    I was told about Lestoil about 40 years ago (no kidding), by a friend. I had an old oil stain on a winter coat that was used for play and snow shoveling. I had washed and dried that coat at least a dozen times with that stain on it and it never budged. I applied Lestoil to the stain and couldn’t believe my eyes as it just disappeared. Now I still use Lestoil for ink, blood, grass, grease, you name it and it works on everything I’ve ever tried it on. It does have that strong pine smell so I wash everything well after cleaning with it. It is a wonder product for stains. <3

  21. Geigei54 says:

    Last night while painting my toenails, I spilled red polish (about a 2″x4″ spot) on my duvet cover, I was sure it was a lost cause but did try soaking in some nail polish remover, nothing happened. I swear by Lestoil for all my other stains and thought what could it hurt, it’s already ruined, I soaked the spot for about 4-5 hours in undiluted Lestoil, unbelievably the spot slowly began to fade, then a wash in hot water and now there is NO sign of the stain. Love Lestoil. I spill a lot!

  22. Barbara Kegebein says:

    I am 67 and never remember my mom not having it (She always had an extra bottle). As I got older, I had to bring it on visits, and of course I use it myself. Here in Louisiana, they do carry it at Lowes and some farm stores and hardware stores now.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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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