Christopher Ely

Grease may be the word… but not when on your shirt?

Barry Gibb may have written the title song for the 1978 musical motion picture “Grease,” but the grease we usually deal with is food related – think of it dripping from a slice of pizza or a splash of salad oil.

Stain removal is a pretty easy task, but it usually requires the speed, patience and the correct product and technique to remove from fabric without damaging it. It’s frustrating to remove the offending stain only to find you have either affected the color or damaged the fabric.

One thing I grapple with is using toxic laundry products in the home. Most of the time this is unnecessary, and when I do use them I take into account the item of clothing and its destructive impact on the environment. After all, clothes are easy to replace and rather inexpensive these days.

If you have ever seen the documentaries “Slowing Down Fast Fashion” by Alex James or “The True Cost” by Andrew Morgan, you will know the importance of respecting and caring for fabrics to make them last longer before recycling and ultimately keeping them out of landfills. Who would have ever guessed the negative impact of fashion?

As with all cleaning, I go for an environmentally-friendly method first. For grease and oil (this includes our own body oils and cosmetics), I first reach for an enzyme stain remover. Enzymes break down the oils so they can be flushed away without any detergent. The only problem with enzymes is they damage protein-based fabrics such as wool, cashmere and silk. For these fabrics and stains that the enzymes cannot handle I use Dawn, which is a petroleum-based dishwashing liquid. I am sorry to say I have tried a number of environmentally-friendly dishwashing liquids as well as other popular brands, but they simply don’t work.

I am concerned that pouring gallons of petroleum-based products into our drains is a hazard to our health and the environment. So for daily dishwashing and other dishwashing liquid applications I go “green,” but I keep a small bottle of Dawn for quick stain removals.

If it amazes you that something made for washing dishes is this effective on oil stains, you should also know that it’s used to clean the unfortunate birds and other wildlife that are caught up in oil spills.

As for the greaser Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta in the movie, I wonder how he dealt with the hair and engine oil when he did his laundry?

© 2017 Christopher Ely. All rights reserved.Reprinted with the permission of the author.