Dear Home Ec 101:
I was somehow elected to carry the 25 pound turkey from the kitchen to the dining room on Thanksgiving. I didn’t drop it, but I did tip the cutting board it was resting on enough so that the turkey drippings flowed down my leg onto the kitchen floor – making the one dog in the kitchen at the time VERY happy. Obviously I couldn’t disrobe at that point, but as soon as dinner was over I removed the pants, sprayed them down with stain remover, and washed. I thought they looked ok when they came out of the washer, so I dried & folded them, and stuck them into my suitcase for the trip home. Fast forward to this morning when I pulled them out of my suitcase and went to iron them, lo and behold a HUGE stain down the entire right leg of my pants. Any suggestions for removing the set in grease stain or are my favorite pants gone forever? They are cotton and light tan in color.
Greasy in Greeberville
Unfortunately it sounds as though your favorite pants may be ruined.
When treating grease stains, they should be treated as soon as possible otherwise the fats and oils wicks into the fibers where it can become very difficult to remove.
The aerosol or petroleum based spray pretreatments seem to work the best in these cases. If you don’t have any of this on hand, heavy duty laundry detergent may work. If you only have powdered laundry detergent, mix it with a little water to make a paste and apply to the stain directly.
What we’re trying to do is get as many of the greasy molecules as we can into solution and out of your pants. The only way this will happen is if the pretreatment gets as deeply into the fabric as the stain. This is why the sprays seem to work better than the dribble on type. They penetrate more deeply¹.
Launder immediately, but do not place the stained item in the dryer. Check the item carefully for the stain and repeat the above steps if it is still there.
If only a color from the original stain remains, rewash the item with color safe or oxygen bleach.
If it seems as though the stain is gone, allow the item to air dry completely and check again.
There may be hope, for grease stains set with heat, but not a lot. Don’t get too excited. With colorfast fabrics you may try an overnight pretreatment with a petroleum based spray pretreatment. If the stain is so bad the item is ruined, what do you have to lose? Another last ditch effort on a set-in grease stain is to try applying dry cleaning stain solution to the underside of the fabric. Have the fabric resting on a pad of rags or old towels. You don’t want to just let this stuff spill onto any old surface. Be careful and clean up any spills. Dry cleaning stain solution isn’t something to play around with.
Good luck and file your Thanksgiving pants disaster under the heading live and learn.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
¹You know I’m fighting the terrible urge to yell, “That’s what she said!”