Ask a Clean Person: Grease Stains Everywhere!

We had friends over for dinner recently, and after enjoying the meal and dessert we moved into the living room to relax on the comfortable couch and chairs while we sipped our after-dinner drinks and chatted. A few days later I noticed a spot on the wall above one of the chairs. Thinking it was just a trick of the light, I didn’t worry too much, until I noticed it the next day, and the next.

When I pointed it out to my husband and we both inspected it more closely it was abundantly clear that our gentleman guest had been wearing far too much product in his abundant, curly hair and had left this nasty spot on our recently painted walls. My husband wiped it up using a damp sponge, and now we have a nice circle of grease above the chair rather than three horizontal streaks. Any advice on how to remove this? The wall, incidentally, is a light yellow. We do have touch-up paint, but I’m afraid that will look bad, too.

I absolutely cannot be the only one whose mind went straight to this:

Just let your soul glo/Just let it shine through
Just let your soul glo baby/Feelin’ oh so silky smooth
Just let it shine through/Just let your soul glo oooh

So hey! While I’m busy leading the group in song, I want you to busy yourself with getting your hands on something that will cut grease.

A few things to try out:

  1. Make a dishsoap/water solution and use a rag to see if that will take the stain off. Just be sure to wring the rag out well so you don’t saturate the wall.
  2. If that doesn’t work, step it up to an ammonia solution. Same idea, use a rag, wring it out, hit the wall with it. You don’t want to agitate too much — better to give it more passes gently than to rub too hard and strip the paint.
  3. Do you hate ammonia? How about trying Simple Green? People swear by it for getting grease stains up from walls.
  4. A Magic Eraser might also work BUT (that’s a big but, get it?!) be aware that Magic Erasers can take some types of paint off a wall in a seriously noticeable way, so do a test on a part of the wall that’s not often seen. Along the baseboard, behind something that you know won’t move, that’s the type of place you’re looking for.

If none of those things work for you, come back; we’ll fire up the Clean & Handy van and head over to Lucia’s to talk about spot painting a stained wall.

In my attempt to be a cute lesbian on a bike, I thought it possible to wear a knee length skirt on a weekend leisure ride. Come to find out, after I had put it in the wash, that it has a few nasty streaks of bike grease. What is a femme to do?

Oof. This is a tough one; any time a stained item has been washed and dried things get dicey, because the heat from a dryer will set a stain. But let’s see what we can do.

First let’s check our Martha Stewart stain chart to see what she has to say about things. And then let’s take a minute to side-eye each other and be all, “Thank God we’re doing this thing here so we don’t have to talk to Martha about the particular cleaning woes of cute lesbians.”

OK so! Martha says ‘mineral oils’ which? Thanks Martha. That’s sooo helpful. Again, is why you have me, to translate from Clean Person to English: This is the stuff you need, Lestoil.

It might be a little tricky to find; try a hardware store first, and if you still can’t get your hands on it you can always fall back on our friends The Motsenbockers. Lift-off #2 is the one you want for grease stains. To use it, spray it on the stain, let it marinate for 30 or so seconds then blot blot blot blot blot. Wash the area you treated with a little dishsoap and water to get the Motsenbocker’s out, then throw the item in the washing machine. As a last ditch effort — or, hell, as a first ditch effort! I’m not gonna judge! — take the skirt to your dry cleaner, show them where the stain is and say a few prayers to Hestia for good measure.

Now hop back up on that bike and get busy with being your adorable femme self.

Leather stains, Jolie. Gross, grease stains on a beautiful leather bag.

The crime: Chop’t salad wrap at work. A flying piece of dressing-coated salad escapes and does a SLOW MOTION FALL OF GREASY PIECE OF LETTUCE ONTO BEAUTIFUL NEW BAG. THERE IS A GREASE STAIN ON MY BELOVED LEATHER MESSENGER BAG.

Believe it or not, you’re in better shape than our friend with the bicycle! I know that sounds nuts, when you’re facing a perfect storm created by a combination of the stubborn nature of grease stains and the temperamental nature of leather products, but actually this is an easy one. Get either talcum powder or cornstarch and sprinkle it liberally on the stain (you’ll want to have the bag lying flat before you do this). Leave it overnight and then brush away the powder with a dry rag.

The talc/corn starch will pull the oil up from the leather. Depending on how serious the stain is you may need to do more than one application, but hang in there and your beloved messenger bag will be right as rain in no time.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you looking for a green alternative to the suggestions found here? Because we’ve got some! More importantly: Is anything you own dirty?

Photo by spfotocz, via Shutterstock