Oil and Wax Removal Questions

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Q. After I shower, I spray oil on my body and now I cannot wash the oil out of towel. Now it feels wet even after repeatedly washing. How can I get the oil out?

A. Try a heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent. Fill the washer with hot water; add detergent, two cups ammonia, and then the towels. Never mix ammonia and bleach because together they create a toxic gas. Let agitation begin, but stop the washer and let the towels soak in hot water. Then, complete the cycle. As the washer fills to rinse, add a cup of white vinegar to remove residues, soften, freshen, and resolve static and lint problems. Tip: Use paper towels to blot excess oil off body.

Q. My youngest thought the couch would look so pretty with shortening ground into the upholstery, and I wondered if there was a trick to getting it out?

A. Scrape as much of the excess off upholstery as you can with a dull knife or plastic scraper. If possible, remove the couch to the outdoors because you will need to use a solvent cleaner and lots of it. Solvents are smelly, flammable, and volatile. Avoid sparks and smoking. You will need lots of ventilation. You will also need lots of white rags. Avoid colored rags because you do not want to impart dyes to the upholstery fabric. Apply solvent a dry cleaning fluid or denatured alcohol to rag and start blotting. Blot from outside the stain toward the middle to prevent spreading. Continue to blot, changing rags as needed, until stains are removed.

It is not recommended that cushion covers be removed for cleaning, as they tend to shrink and become misshapen if washed. If you do plan to wash the cushion covers, follow instructions above to remove excess, pretreat with solvent, then pretreat with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent, wash in warm water and detergent. Do not dry in dryer. Shake to remove wrinkles. Air dry. While still damp, smooth and shape the cushions by hand. If in doubt, call a professional upholstery cleaner.

Q. I have oil stains from my car on my driveway. What is the best method for getting rid of these?

A. Wet concrete and work in a degreaser product with a scrub brush. Let set. Scrub again before rinsing. For severe stains, it may require letting cleaner to set for an hour or more or overnight. Because concrete is porous, it will be necessary to allow the cleaner to dissolve oil trapped in pores. Repeat applications may be necessary. There are driveway cleaners at home centers, hardware stores, and auto supply stores. Orange cleaner concentrate (D-Limonene) is used industrially to clean greasy and oily concrete floors. This product can be diluted for your other cleaning projects.

Q. There is a large oil spill in the middle of the garage floor and I want to get it out. I would like it to be spotless, but if that's not in the realm of possibility, I'd like to just get the thick, sludgy bit of nastiness off our garage floor. I tried scraping it off with a putty knife, and couldn't get as much of it off as I wanted to. Is there some chemical I can use to get it off? Like, some super mixture of bleach and lemon juice or something?

A. Oil on garage floors is a common problem, especially if previous owners had a leaky car. Using the putty knife to scrape off as much excess oil buildup is a good start. You will need a degreaser to remove the rest. Remember, concrete is porous and the oil has been absorbed into the pores, so it may not be possible to remove all signs of the oil stain. There are commercial cleaners for garage floors at auto supply stores, home centers, and hardware stores. Orange cleaner concentrate (not one of the diluted orange-whatever products) is used industrially as a degreaser. Wet the surface, apply cleaner, and let set overnight. Scrub with a brush and rinse. Repeat if necessary. Left over orange cleaner concentrate can be diluted and used as an all-purpose cleaner and degreaser for other cleaning projects.

Q. What product can I use to get an antibiotic ointment stain out off of my couch?

A. Ointment must be treated like a grease/oil stain. Blot with white rag and solvent cleaner as indicated. You can use rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, dry cleaning fluid or other favorite household solvent. Test first in an inconspicuous area for ill effects on fibers or dye. Blot from outside stain toward the middle to prevent spreading. Do not rub.

Q. How do I get motor oil out of my pants?

A. You will need to pre-treat motor oil stains with solvent cleaner with rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or dry cleaning fluid, or other household solvent cleaner like Goo Gone and let set. Then hand agitate heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent and let set. Then, wash in heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent and water. Some recommend the M30 detergent cleaner to be rubbed in and left to set. If you're cleaning dyed fabrics, it is best to test color in an inconspicuous area first for ill effects.


Q. I washed and dried a brown crayon and it is all over my clothes. How can I get it out?

A. Scrape away as much excess crayon as possible with dull knife or spoon. Blot stains with solvent cleaner such as rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or dry cleaning fluid or your favorite household solvent cleaner. Some folks recommend using WD-40. Use a white rag and blot from outside stains toward middle. Pre-treat with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent and let set. Wash it in the hottest water appropriate for fabric. Repeat if necessary. Do not place laundry in a dryer that smells of solvent. Solvents tend to be smelly, volatile, and flammable. Avoid sparks. You may want to use solvent outdoors to avoid having odor in home if your laundry area is not well ventilated.

Apply solvent or WD-40 to a white rag and the clean interior of the dryer drum. Rub with the rag until you can remove no more crayon. Never pour cleaner into the dryer drum. Once solvent odor has dissipated, run a couple of old towels through a drying cycle to assure that no crayon will come off on your laundry.

Q. Can anyone tell me how to remove candle wax from silver plated candleholders?

A. Put candlesticks in freezer to freeze wax. It should pop off with your fingernail. Polish the silver with quality polish with tarnish resister.

Q. I dropped some candle wax onto my rug. How do I clean it?

A. Scrape away excess with dull knife or spoon. Vacuum. Blot from outside of the affected area toward the middle to prevent spreading with white rag and solvent cleaner. Solvents include rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, dry cleaning fluid, or other household solvent. Test first in an inconspicuous are for ill effects on dye. Always blot. Never rub carpet fibers.

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