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Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

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My boyfriend works construction (all kinds ). He sweats badly and his shirts and pants are terrible. Even after I wash them two or three times, it doesn't help. He wears t-shirts and jeans.

He gets paint, grease, you name it, it's on there. I would throw them away, but he's just going to get more fifty. It seems like I've tried every detergent out there. No help. Any ideas? Thank you for all answers!

By Rhoda


Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By cdoss [10]07/30/2010

My DH works construction as well. Sometimes he comes home with clothes too greasy/nasty to even put in our washing machine like when he's been at the asphalt plant! If he knows in advance he'll be working someplace like this, he wears "throw-away" clothes. Work clothes that are already in really bad shape or clothes he's picked up at the thrift store super cheap. It sounds wasteful to throw away clothes but when it's tar/asphalt, it's almost impossible to get out and you'll risk getting the stuff in your washing machine and ruining other clothes. He generally pays $1-$2 dollars for "throw away" jeans and .25 - .50 for the shirts. He'll sometimes wear the jeans 2 or 3 times before they get so bad he can't stand them anymore.

By Stacey [3]07/28/2010

I have to agree with the poster that recommended the Awesome cleaner from the Dollar Tree or Dollar General. I love that stuff & use it on everything. I pre-teat my laundry with a solution of 1:1 in a spray bottle. My husband spilled an entire bottle of red Gatorade on a pale yellow shirt & it took that out completely, I've even gotten blood out of clothes with it. I have also used it in a carpet cleaner on my carpets & it worked great. Definitely give it a try.

By Harlean from Arkansas [125]07/28/2010

My husband works on small engines, lawn mowers, tillers, etc. Some of his tee shirts are badly stained with oil, grease, and dirt. I use a stain remover from the Dollar Tree Store. It comes in a 32 ounce spray bottle and is called Awesome Pre-Wash Laundry Stain Remover. When I sort his shirts from the hamper, I lay them front side up, lying open and flat on a pile. I place the pile in a ventilated area and Spray the stains on the front of the top shirt, around the neck, and then turn it over and spray the back if there are any stains there. Most of the shirts are stained only on the front. I toss the first one in a basket, and continue the same procedure with each shirt. When all have been sprayed, I let them stand a few minutes and then throw them in the machine along with another cup of the stain remover, the appropriate amount of detergent, and 1/2 cup of soda.You can find soda in a
13.5 pound bag at Sam's Wholesale Club. I wash in warm water. Not every stain comes out every time, but in most cases they come very clean.
Harlean from Arkansas

By Sheilah Link [5]07/25/2010

Hot, hot water for dirty dirt. Paint: can't help you there. Grease: spot treat with Dawn or a like dish cleaner, and then wash. Do not add soap as the Dawn will be there. The trick with grease is to get it into a solution and then wash the solution out.

By Frances Adams [11]07/25/2010

I always use Simple Green spray for laundry like that. My husband drives a log truck, and has to do alot of his own maintenance on it. If they are bad enough, I will put them in a 5 gallon bucket on the porch after spraying the worst spots, fill it up with water, and add a little more, then let them sit for a day or two before washing.
Otherwise, I just spray with the Simple Green, using it like laundry spot remover, and it works well enough.
For seriously greasy spots, I have used the hand cleaner gels like Mojo, or other brands, and scrubbed into the spots, letting them set for a few hours before washing.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

My husband often comes home with really dirty clothing. Especially when it rains, he works outside for much of the day. I am a stay at home parent since the birth of our first child. Basically a new homemaker. Any tips for cleaning really dirty clothing and having them look respectable again would be helpful. Thank you, love this site!


RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

Go to your nearest "Dollar General" store and purchase a gallon of "Mean Green". It's $5 a galllon, but it lasts a long time. Just pour in 1 cup per load of laundry and it will clean the clothes every time. This stuff works great on a lot of stains. It cleans the Georgia clay from my husband's jeans, grease from his work clothes, etc. Try it! (04/16/2004)

By sjackie2000

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

My dad was a truck mechanic for a logging company. Mom would start by adding at least 1 cup of ammonia to wash along with detergent. Let agitate for a few minutes and then turn off machine and just let soak for an hour or so. Turn machine back on and finish cycle. I'm pretty sure she used the "sudsy" ammonia. Sometimes his workclothes were so black with grease she'd follow up with another run through the machine. (04/16/2004)

By Charlie

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

If his pants are caked with mud and you don't want all that mud in your washer, let the pants dry, then beat them on the sidewalk until most of the mud falls off, then wash as usual. (04/16/2004)

By Marti

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

I've been a SAHM for awhile now, (5 years) and I'm always trying to save money.This is the stain remover I like best for my family's clothes.
  • 1/2 cup ammonia
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons dishwashing soap (I use AJAX)
  • 1 quart water

Mix well, and store in spray bottle. *Hint - Reuse your "Spray and Wash" bottle. (04/17/2004)

By Paula

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

To clean really dirty clothes; this one is for greasy ones. Use a can of Coke to one load. It has to be Coke no other cola product works as well. My husband is a airplane mechanic and this gets all the hydraulic fuel, oil, and all the other stuff that he gets into.

Kristen, Air Force wife and mother of three. (04/20/2004)

By ThriftyFun

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

An oldie, but goodie, Lestoil. Can be found in the cleaning product aisle of any large grocery. (04/20/2004)

By Karen

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

I use Dawn dish soap on my husband's greasy clothes. Dawn takes out many stains. If they're really dirty I put the Dawn on and put them in the washer with my laundry soap and let soak in warm water for 15 or twenty minutes. You can even add Borax to the laundry and that stuff works miracles. Good luck and congrats on staying home, it's a great choice. (04/23/2004)

By Kristi

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

The best thing for really dirty clothes: grease, grass, sweat, and all is mechanic's hand cleaner. You can usually find a tub of it for a dollar or two in the hardware section of any store. Slather it on, and use a scrub brush to lightly work it in. The other thing to remember is to not put heavily soiled clothes in the dryer unless you are sure they are clean. Hang-dry the item if you have any doubt, and re-wash if needed. (07/10/2004)

By guest

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

I use cheap laundry soap, add some borax, or washing soda and a good splash of Simple Green. I buy Simple Green at Sam's and it keeps my husband's clothes clean and wearable for work, some come really clean and are decent, but as a welder on oil rigs, he gets into some really awful grease. Hope this helps,

Tina (01/19/2007)

By trbrown22

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

My staple is Shout. I use in on all grease. Wash clothes in hot water twice and this does the trick every time. My husband is as bad as the airplane mechanic. (08/10/2007)

By Vicki

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

I've been a machinist/auto mechanic and all around handyman for over 45 Yrs. For my "worst case", thought I'd never, ever get them clean, pants and shirts, my best result was to pre-treat the greasy areas (for me this always seems to be knee and thigh-fronts) with waterless cream-type hand cleaners.

These are always available at auto-parts stores under brand names like D&L, Go-Jo, and lately Goop (because it has less odor) make sure you get the style without "pumice". The pumice type is great for greasy hands etc., but too abrasive for clothing. Apply liberally, I usually scrub over the worst areas with small plastic scrub brush. Let it sit while filling the machine with warm or hot water and your normal detergent. I go for the longest cycle, and of course, wash these items separate from other clothes.

I'm always amazed that clothes so greasy and filthy can come out looking like they've never been touched by a drop of oil. P.S. If you already washed the items without some special attention, you've probably set the stain, and may never get it out completely. (04/26/2008)

By pixdan

RE: Cleaning Dirty Work Clothing

To get grease out of clothes rub eucalyptus oil on the area and then stick it in your washing machine. You will find that your grease stains will be gone. (03/04/2010)

By pussinbootsere

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