lestoil in laundry

How to Get Fabulous Results Treating Laundry Stains with Lestoil

Now and then I open my mailbox to find a letter that makes me want to jump up and run around yelling, “I know the answer! I know exactly how to fix this problem!” That’s exactly what happened when I heard from Chris …

lestoil in laundry2


Dear Mary: As one whose hands tremble a bit (I’ve been thoroughly checked and it’s not a serious matter) I am forever dropping food on my clothing while I eat. That results in grease spots that set in no matter what I do.

I have tried pre-washes, baking soda, double washing, and stain removers. I have not found anything that will remove the grease stains and I am not willing to wear a bib, especially while eating in a nice restaurant with friends and family. I am on a limited budget, and this is becoming a real issue. Please help! Chris

I can identify because I have a similar problem—the result of cooking over a splattering stove while failing to wear an apron! I know what you mean about tough grease spots setting into my clothes and refusing to budge. But not to worry. I have the perfect solution—one I’ve used nearly every day of my life since I found it. 

When old is new again

Lestoil (“less toil”) Concentrated Heavy Duty Cleaner is a product that’s been around for at least a hundred years. Your mother probably used it on your clothes when you were a kid. It is a thick liquid stain treatment that is not easy to find. I understand that some Walmart stores carry it, which you will find in the laundry aisle or online; now and then I’ll see it at Home Depot. For sure you can always find Lestoil Concentrated Heavy Duty Cleaner online at Amazon. I buy two bottles at a time, because I don’t ever want to run out of Lestoil.

Fragrant or odiferous?

Here’s the thing with Lestoil: I find it very stinky. It smells like the inside of a greasy machine shop. Surprisingly, I have readers who find the scent endearing, but be that as it may, the smell will disappear in the laundry once you wash the stain-treated garment.



How to treat with Lestoil


I pour Lestoil into a spray bottle for ease of use so I can blast grease stains, old stains, food stains, make-up stains, and any other stain I manage to pick up. I’m so used to the smell by now that I find it easily tolerated because I know what’s going to happen—no more stain.

Roll it up

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 may not be long enough to guarantee a good result.)


In the morning, I rinse the treated area in the sink to remove the Lestoil (just to be safe, as some newer washing machines warn against putting petroleum-based products into the machine).

Launder and usual

Last, I wash and dry these items as usual, and Voila!, stains are gone without a trace of the infamous Lestoil odor.

Repeat as needed

One last thing: There have been a few times that a stain did not come out completely on my first attempt. On that rare occasion, rather than give up, I repeat the process with Lestoil, letting it sit before laundry for up to a couple of days. So far, I’ve never had to resort to a third attempt.

Lestoil. It’s just plain wonderful.


   1-Pak Lestoil 48-oz.

      HOME DEPOT $8.48 ($0.13 fl oz)




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  1. SHERRY says:

    I have found that regular blue dawn and oxyclean will get out most anything. just put dawn on the stain and then sprinkle with a little oxyclean rub between your knuckles throw in washer and run with the next load no rinsing or anything. It works great. Even gets blood stains out.

  2. Eileen H says:

    I got all excited and ordered Lestoil through the link on your site. Treated three shirts as suggested, then rinsed them thoroughly before running through the washing machine. The whole load stank of Lestoil when finished. Hoping a second washing will remove the smell. Very disappointing – but that scent sure took me back to childhood. And I’ll be able to use the product for other things.

  3. Linda says:

    When I have a oil stain that didn’t come out with just the dawn. I use the blue dawn. I usually let set and harden up. I try to forget about it. I boil up some hot water. Then I take my garment lay in the bottom of the sink. Pour that hot water on it and let it set for a bit and run in a regular wash. Comes out great.

  4. Darlene says:

    I use both Lestoil and Zout and both work wonders. I usually use Zout first though because of the odor. My son turned me on to Zout and Mary to Lextoil.

  5. Polly says:

    I have always had good results with fels naphtha bar soap. I wet the spot and rub the bar on it give it a little rub between my knuckles and put it into the laundry basket. When I do the laundry it just goes in! If there is still a trace of the grease, or whatever, I treat again. Even after the dryer, fels naphtha does it’s job!

  6. Priscilla Khirfan says:

    Finally! I am redeemed!
    About 20-25 years ago I wrote to you about the wonders of Lestoil. I had used it for many years as had my mom before me. But I never heard you mention it and figured my letter was lost in your piles. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many garments I “saved” with my trusty Lestoil. You are right about the smell and I agree with you on that. I do dilute mine a little because of the price going up and am still having good luck with it. Thanks, Mary for all your fantastic help and awesome ideas. Love you!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Well Priscilla, I don’t recall receiving your Lestoil message. I’m so sorry about that…and I don’t recall what prompted me to find out what it is, and how to use it. Lots of readers tell me there’s an old jingle that goes with Lestoil … it was a radio commercial or ? Not sure. Maybe you know

  7. Pat says:

    I squirt Dawn directly on the food stain/grease mark and toss the garment into the washing machine. It always comes out – no waiting, or rolling up or anything else. Just squirt a small amount (the size of the stain).

    • Mary Hunt says:

      That works, too Pat! In fact, somewhere in the archives of this blog, I offer that as an excellent first response to a laundry stains. However, some grease and other stains, in my experience, require a more severe response. I find myself reaching for the Lestoil because I do not want to wash, dry and then see that the stain has survived.

  8. crabbyoldlady says:

    Another hard to find, wonderful to use, may need two treatments is Zout. No petroleum based anything, this one is enzyme powered, gets out darn near anything and is pretty much safe and color safe for most fabrics. I always test, but haven’t had any problems with any fabric or color, not even silk.

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