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How to Remove Body Oil Stains and Odors from Bed Sheets

Updated on November 26, 2016
shay-marie profile image

Yes, my husband knows about this article. No, he does not care that I'm talking about him on the Internet. :)

How to remove body oil stains and odors from bed sheets.
How to remove body oil stains and odors from bed sheets. | Source

Give Your Sheets a Proper, Deep Cleaning!

Have you ever had a problem with getting smells or stains out of your sheets? Are you dealing with stubborn, yellowish, or dark sweat-like stains on your linens that just won't wash out? Well, I've got news for you. It's from body oil*. The natural oils that your skin produces can wreak havoc on fabric, and because it's oil, it can be tricky to wash out.

The good news is, I've done the hard work for you and crafted the perfect method for getting your bed sheets super clean. In this article, I'll walk you through my tricks for getting body oils, stains, and odors out of sheets, all using safe, natural products.

*Despite what the Clorox bleach commercials tell you, "body soil" is not actually a thing. "Body oil" is, though. Tricky marketers!

Source

What You'll Need

Aside from the usual washing machine and dryer (although I suppose you could also do this by hand in a tub if that's your jam), you'll need a few extras to clean sheets stained with body oils and odors. You can use whatever laundry detergent you prefer.

You will also need:

  • Dish soap (yes, the kind you use in the kitchen sink) to help break apart the oils in the sheets.
  • Borax (a natural laundry booster) to help with odors, but also as a safe all-fabric color-safe "bleach."
  • White distilled vinegar as a natural fabric softener, but it's also fantastic for neutralizing odors. Don't worry, vinegar dries "clean" in that there is no vinegar scent left once the fabric is fully dry. I use vinegar in every one of my laundry loads (including delicates), and it does no damage.

20 Mule Team Borax Natural Laundry Booster, 65 oz
20 Mule Team Borax Natural Laundry Booster, 65 oz

My mom introduced me to Borax a few years ago. It's a classic product (over a century old!) that works as a fantastic natural laundry booster. It's great for removing stains and odors both in your washing machine and around the home.

 
Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, Free & Clear Unscented, 25-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6), Packaging May Vary
Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, Free & Clear Unscented, 25-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6), Packaging May Vary

I use a lavender scented dish soap in the laundry, but you could also opt for a fragrance-free dish soap. This Seventh Generation soap is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, dye-free, and has no scent. They also make a lavender/mint variety that smells lovely.

 
Source

How to Clean Those Stinky, Oily Sheets!

  1. Add laundry detergent to machine. To the empty washing machine, add however much detergent you normally use for a load of sheets. I usually go for about 2/3 of the cup that comes with the detergent, then throw in the cup so it gets all the soap off while washing.
  2. Use hot water. Set your machine to the hottest setting on a normal or normal/heavy load. I use the hot/cold setting (wash in hot water, rinse in cold).
  3. Add dishwashing soap. Add three good squirts directly into the flow of the water (to ensure that it mixes in real good). My "3 squirts" rule probably works out to about three tablespoons or just under a quarter cup of dish soap.
  4. Add Borax. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup into the water. Once again, I eyeball this right out of the box.
  5. Put in the sheets and make sure they're all completely submerged in the water.
  6. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of distilled white vinegar to your washing machine's fabric softener dispenser. I always use a spare laundry detergent cup for this. If your machine doesn't have a fabric softener dispenser, you can either add the vinegar during the rinse cycle or get a Downy ball (see the Amazon link below) and toss that in.
  7. Let it soak for about 30 minutes once the washing machine has filled. This soak is important because it helps to break apart the oils in the sheets. I always leave the lid of my washing machine open for this step to prevent the wash cycle from starting up again.
  8. Let the wash cycle continue as usual after your sheets have soaked. If you do not have a fabric softener dispenser or a Downy ball, be sure to add the vinegar during the rinse.
  9. Dry your sheets as usual. Since you already used vinegar, which is a natural fabric softener, you can skip the dryer sheets. You may also skip the fabric softener because it can make the body oil thing worse. I always prefer to use a dryer sheet because I like my sheets to be as soft as a baby's butt (and they've never caused problems with getting stains/oils out for me).
  10. Enjoy your super clean and super fresh sheets!

The Downy Ball

Downy Automatic Dispenser Ball (Pack of 2)
Downy Automatic Dispenser Ball (Pack of 2)

I've used this sucker in washing machines that don't have a fabric softener dispenser, and it works like a champ. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package so that it works properly. Also, despite what the ball might tell you, you can use vinegar with it instead of Downy fabric softener.

 
My sheets showing off their lovely oily stains.
My sheets showing off their lovely oily stains. | Source

My Husband's Stinky Head, Face, and Body are Staining My Sheets! (My Story.)

About a year ago, I discovered that my husband's natural dust-musk body odor was permanently embedding itself in our sheets. I also noticed that some of the lighter-colored linens were getting a yellowish stain on them, and the dark sheets were getting darker in places. It was the worst on pillows and pillowcases!

As it turns out, the odor I was smelling and the stains I was seeing were a common result of the body's natural oils staining fabrics. You might see similar stains on undershirts and in the armpits of clothes. Some men and women just produce more of this stuff, which explains why I was seeing the stains (and a-sniffin' the smells) only on my husband's side of the bed. I tried to photograph this phenomenon (see the photo below): It's hard to see, but you can kind of tell that the part on the left of the bed—the side my husband sleeps on—is darker.

Anyway, I did some Internet sleuthing and found a few tricks for getting these stinky, oily stains out. I've combined, condensed, and modified what I found to create the method you'll find below. It worked wonders for me! It saved our marriage!*

*I'm kidding about that. Nothing could save our marriage.**

**I'm kidding about that, too!

A clean stack.
A clean stack. | Source

Tips for Front-Load Washers

  • If your front loader is a high efficiency washer (HE), it means it uses less water than a standard washer. HE washers rely on the tumbling motion of the cycle to clean rather than the agitation of a standard washer. As a result, overly sudsing detergents and soaps can interfere with this tumbling action, and can sometimes back up in the machine. Also, because of the fact that less water is used, the soap may not rinse out entirely.

    My solution? Use less dish soap. I did a little Internet research and figured out that a half teaspoon of dish soap should be enough to clean your fabrics, but not so much that it will cause problems.

  • Check your front loader to see if it has a "soak" cycle or "pre-soak" option. You could also start the cycle, and then manually stop it for 30 minutes once everything's mixed up. If neither option works for you, you could do a pre-soak in a bucket or bathtub, and then put the wet sheets in the washer for the rest of the wash.

  • If there's no way to make the pre-soak work for you because you use a laundromat, your washer won't let you, or because you simply don't want to mess with it, just do the wash sans soak but opt for the longest cycle possible. It may still work for newer sheets, but could prove to be ineffective with older, heavily-stained linens.

Other Tips and Pointers for Clean Sheets

  • I'm super sensitive to scents, so it was important to me to get a non-dish smelling dish soap for this. Your dish soap choice is entirely up to you though! I also opted for a biodegradable soap as it seems that it would be a bit gentler on fabrics. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it's this kind of thing that gives me a sense of control in this chaotic world.

  • I have had some luck with getting that familiar musky thrift store stink (sorry husband) out of my older sheets, but in my experience, only the newer sheets (ones I've only washed using this method) have remained stink and stain-free. My recommendation is to try it out on your older sheets first and maybe do a more extended soak. If it doesn't work, you may decide to invest in new linens.

  • I like to tell myself that I will change and wash my sheets every week, but this just doesn't happen. I find that as long as I wash my sheets every two weeks, though, no new stains or stubborn, uncleanable odors show up. Of course, if your stains are proving to be a more serious problem, you might have to wash the linens more often.

  • I don't store my sheets in any special way (other than in a linen closet), and they don't regain the smell while they're folded in storage. I hope my method works well for you and yours as well!

  • As for fabric, synthetics are prone to holding onto odors more than natural fibers. I recommend using 100% cotton sheets if you're having problems with smells.

  • Try not to chastise your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, bedmate, or self too much about their bed sheet stains. They can't help it, and it's a mean thing to do. Plus, I can tell you from experience, complaining does nothing to help your sheets.

© 2013 Shay Marie

Comments: Got any experiences with stinky sheets? Wanna share some of your laundry tips? Have at it!

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    • profile image

      Elena 4 days ago

      Im doing some deep cleaning today. Thank you for this list. For my usual laundry I use a regular amount of detergent, plus about a cup of vinegar and a cup of baking soda. Vinegar to get the sweat stains out, baking soda to get smells out, and together they make scrubbing bubbles. Then do a repeat rinse.

      So i added some baking soda to your list too.

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      I'm an 'oldie. and your ideas are spot on . We used half a lemon inside a old sock [ tied off and whacked it 2 or 3 times before throwing it in .Was good for 2 washes 13 days ago

      sheets smell good and the citric oil dissoved as well. Lemon fresh was what the early advertisers used to promote YOU MADE A HOT LEMON DRINK WITH THE OTHER HALF OF YOUR LEMON

    • profile image

      ELIZABETH 3 weeks ago

      I have found that if I let the sheets from the linen closet are allowed to air (I put them on my bed and pull the top sheet all the way to the bottom, letting it fall as flat on the floor as possible) for several hours, they don't have that folded up smell to them. I also do this to my guest bed before they arrive. Give it a try.

    • profile image

      DF 4 weeks ago

      Tried this many times, did not work for me

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      Sherrie 2 months ago

      I am so thankful for your page! It has helped me with sheets, towels, and even some clothes! My problem wasn't oil stains, but odors. Now they are all gone! Magic!

    • profile image

      Renee 2 months ago

      The stains faded a bit but did not completely go away. It probably would've been the same results if I just used detergent and hot water. I soaked it for 45 minutes too. Too bad, I was hoping i didn't have to put too much effort by the sounds of your instructions but I ended up having to scrub in some stain remover and then wash again. That worked!

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      Happy wife! 3 months ago

      This is the most amazing post. My bedsheets were 3 years old, and a significant body oil stain had built up over the years. I was going to get new sheets but came upon your post and my sheets came out squeaky clean with just one wash! I am so amazed. My front-load HE washer has a sanitize function and since I couldn't pre-soak the linen in the machine, I put it on the longest wash possible (just over 2 hours) with the usual detergent, 1/2 tsp dish detergent directly onto the sheets, and vinegar in the fabric softener compartment, just like you instructed. I was a little skeptical that this would work without the booster, but my sheets haven't been this clean since I bought them. Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      Kortney 4 months ago

      Just a heads up, dryer sheets have fiberglass in them. I used them for years but found out about the fiberglass and stopped. FYI

      Thank you for the tips to a deep clean for my sheets.

    • profile image

      Donna 4 months ago

      My fabric headboard has a round stain where my husband rests his head!!! I need to figure away to clean it ....can put it in the washer :(

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      Allison 5 months ago

      Hello,

      I just tried this and it worked REALLY well. I've never been able to keep my ivory sheets clean. But there were a few places scattered around the sheets that had a brownish dotted pattern after I washed/dryed them. The holes in the washer (where the water drains) must have left them. I have NEVER had this problem with my washer before until I tried this mix of detergents/chemicals. I washed them again and most of the spots came out, except for a few places. Have you ever heard of this? I love this and want to do it on more items, but afraid now of what happened!

    • profile image

      sudhir 5 months ago

      I use simple green heavy duty (degreaser). It is the best.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 6 months ago from Southern California

      @Jillwhite06 -- I have not used this method on clothes myself, so I can't speak from experience, but I would wager if the fabric is not delicate, it would work in a similar manner. That said, hot water does increase fading of colors & darks (and can shrink fabric too), so if that is a concern, maybe try the method with cold water. I don't think it will be as effective, but it's worth a shot.

    • profile image

      Ashley 6 months ago

      I'm gonna give this a try. my cotton sheets haven't ever given me a problem with a smell before but are now. the other fabric ( I think polyester) stinks even though they just sit abs barely ever get used so I want to see if it will help with the smell of those

    • profile image

      Jillwhite06 6 months ago

      What about clothes? Can I use this same method for my husband's clothes? And I always use cold water, I'm afraid hot water will fade my sheets that are dark and my husband's clothes that are dark or colors.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 7 months ago from Southern California

      @Elaine - It's more of a timing thing than anything else. I recommend adding the detergent, dish soap, and borax in the same way you add detergent regularly, ie at the same time & in the same place in the washer. Add the vinegar in the fabric softener spot or, if your washer doesn't have one, a fabric softener dispenser (there is a link to one in the article). If you can't soak in the washer, just opt for the longest cycle available. I hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Elaine 7 months ago

      My LG top loader does not allow the addition of borax, etc as the water fills the washer. There is not a soak cycle and if you stop it to soak it times out and cancels the wash. I have just added the detergent, dish soap, borax and vinegar (in the bleach cup) and used hot water . It does help. Any suggestions?

    • profile image

      Lisa 7 months ago

      Wow! I wish I'd found this sooner. It worked really well! :)

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      Shay Marie 7 months ago from Southern California

      @Dodie - Yes I believe it is.

    • profile image

      Dodie 7 months ago

      Is dish soap the same as washing up liquid in England?

    • profile image

      Rosanne 8 months ago

      Appreciate all the info. I've been using the Borax and the vinegar. I'll also add the dish soap to see if that helps. My problem is body oil, but from a dog that now owns my new sofa - covered with a sheet to protect it, of course. Hence, the problem.

      One tip about the Borax - it's also wonderful as a pure and safe insecticide. If you dilute it you can spray it around the house to prevent bugs and if you hapen to have a pet who gifts you with fleas you can sprinkle it dry onto furniture, carpets,etc. Leve for a day or 2 and vaccuum. Kills 'em dead! And all the while freshening the air!

    • profile image

      a.nonymous 8 months ago

      sigh... didn't work for me.

    • profile image

      Susan 9 months ago

      They worked

    • profile image

      Jennifer 10 months ago

      I tried this and it worked!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • profile image

      Margie 10 months ago

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I had despaired of ever getting the stains out of my sheets. Your post was my last ditch final effort. I tried it first on my worst stains, and while it didn't totally remove them, they looked better than anything else I ever tried. I use your method every time I wash sheets now and I am no longer embarrassed by how they look. I also tried it to remove the musty smell in my towels and it worked for that also. Thank you again.

    • profile image

      Pb 10 months ago

      So glad I found your tip. My sheets look like new. Thank you

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 10 months ago from Southern California

      @kbmom -- I currently use a front load washer with this method. I have a section in the article called "Tips for Front-Load Washers" (it's towards the bottom).

    • profile image

      kbmom 10 months ago

      I want to try this, as I am tired of spending a fortune on replacing sheets at least yearly. Same issue, no matter how often I launder, husband's side of sheets and his pillow cases are greasy yellow and gross in short time (yes, he showers immediately before bed). My question is, have you tried this in a front-loader washing machine? There is no covering the bedding with water and I have to be careful of over-sudsing. Has anyone tried this with a frontloader? Did you make any adjustments?

    • profile image

      Courtney 11 months ago

      This worked great!! Thanks for the tips

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      TJ 11 months ago

      I can't thank you enough! I know all too well about the husband "oily stain". I just purchased brand new sheets and within no time, there it was. I washed them using your method yesterday and WOW. I even had an old pair of white pillow cases he stained yellow years ago and they came out white! I might try this method on some t-shirts that have a smell that just won't wash out and my husband's undershirts. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Jean 11 months ago

      To not change your bed every week is just gross!! I have sheets & a mattress pad from a male friend who moved & was going to throw them out due to heavily soiled & stained status. Have soaked it super hot water & Clorox overnight & then a 3rd time w/ detergent & Borax overnight. Better, but not gone. Will add the dish detergent & see.

    • profile image

      aeternaignis@yahoo.com 12 months ago

      wish I could post pics to show you what a difference it made! Thank you so much! I will be washing the bulk of my laundry this way now!!!

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 12 months ago

      I have been searching for a way to solve this problem for months! I tried your method today (soaked in the bathtub, rinse & spin in the washer, then ran a full cycle with all the same ingredients again) and, voila! It worked like a charm!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

      Sincerely,

      a very happy wife with clean, all-the-same-color, oil-free, like-new sheets :)

    • shay-marie profile image
      Author

      Shay Marie 12 months ago from Southern California

      @nQuirer -- Your comment was a bit to long to publish, but in response to your questions:

      I've used this method with two different washers with similar effects, so I don't think the water-to-detergent ratio is super important. If you're presoaking outside the washer, I'd probably do about 1/3 a bath-tub of water, or a big plastic tub. So long as the water covers the sheets, I think it'll work fine.

      I also haven't had problems using a few different varieties of dish soap, so I don't think using a powerful "degreaser" is important either. All dish soaps are made to degrease, so it's just a matter of finding a scent you don't mind for laundry.

      Lastly, I can't say there is a maximum soak time. Minimum soak time, maybe. I've soaked my sheets anywhere from 10-15 minutes up to 2 hours or so (when I forget about them). Obviously, if the basic method doesn't work, you can always play around with the variables: longer soak, more detergent, more dish soap, etc.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 12 months ago from Southern California

      @Andrew Tan -- I've been using this method for years without issue every time I wash my sheets. However, a hot water cycle is going to be less gentle than a cold water cycle, so I would be careful using this method with anything that is delicate or a keepsake.

    • profile image

      Andrew Tan 12 months ago

      Hey Shay Marie,

      I just tried it out on some yellowish body oil stains on my old football jerseys and it works. It's not perfect but the yellowish stains are no longer visible. I'm so happy. You're a life saver. Can I use it regularly on each wash?

    • profile image

      Marlene 12 months ago

      Tried this and it worked really well. Glad to have these tips to get my stuff clean. And glad someone like you did all the research so I didn't have to. So thanks for your time and effort. I'll be passing these tips on to all my friends. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Marlene 12 months ago

      Hi. I'm trying this right now and hope it works. Will post after the results. Thanks so much for the tips.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 12 months ago from Southern California

      @Jackie -- I just ordered some wool dryer balls tonight and I remembered your comment here. I got them mostly because they are supposed to help soften fabrics and shorten dry times, but the description says they work well for mitigating static cling as well. They're about $10-$15 on Amazon (I got the "Smart Sheep" brand).

    • profile image

      Jackie 13 months ago

      I already use vinegar for the rinse but still have static cling any suggestions on this? I will be trying this for my sheets thanks

    • profile image

      Steve 13 months ago

      I can say that following mostly this method works very well for me. My sheets darken as I use them and regular laundry detergent (unless I wash them every week without fail) doesn't do the trick.

      I used a combination of dish soap, borax and oxyclean in a bathtub to soak the sheets before washing. I would then rinse them and wash them as normal. After doing this the sheets looked and smelled new. No more darkened spots from where I sleep.

    • profile image

      MR 13 months ago

      Thanks for this tip. I am going to try it soon.

    • profile image

      Marlene 13 months ago

      I'm going to try this. I hope it works as well as it does for you. Will let you know. Thanks for your wonderful site. You explain it all so well a person can't go wrong.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 13 months ago from Southern California

      @Bree I think colored or patterned sheets would hide stains a little better. I have a set of medium toned grey/purple sheets that have been going strong for 5 years.

    • profile image

      Bree 13 months ago

      Would you recommend a certain color for the sheets that stain less easily? We are now investing in new sheets again and I will try your method on those. We wash once a week hence the stains take longer to show up. We had the old sheets for four years now which was way too long.

    • profile image

      Sara 13 months ago

      Wonderful, really has made favourite bedlinen crisp and new. I'm doing the whole cupboardful now! Thank you so much for this.

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      Paul 13 months ago

      I just tried this mixture on some very nice sheets and pillow cases, hoping for the best, since detergent, bleach and even stain remover hadn't worked. This combination made everything look like brand new. This is a great solution.

    • profile image

      Misco 14 months ago

      I was pretty skeptical this was going to work. But after many years of buying new sheets every year and being really embarrassed anytime I had to take sheets with me anywhere (and FORGET if any of my girlfriends had to share them with me!). I figured, what the heck, I'll try anything. Well I am PLEASED to say this worked!!! I can't believe how well. They're not perfect, but the most noticeable dinginess is gone!! I only did white and beige thus far, but I have new hope that I might be able to venture out with colors again. Thank you sooooo much!!

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 14 months ago from Southern California

      @Lauren - Hi Lauren. I don't know what kind of washing machine it is, so I can't make specific recommendations, but I'd choose whatever is the longest, hottest cycle. The "dish soap with the the flow of water" is just what I do to insure it is mixed in really well. Adding it the same way you add detergent would be fine.

    • profile image

      Lauren 14 months ago

      Hi! Thanks for the tips! My question to you (and not sure if I skipped this somewhere) is what to do when your washing machines are in a apartment building? I don't have control with pouring the dish soap with the flow of water or the soak time. What is your recommendation? Thanks!

      -Lauren

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      houston 15 months ago

      I just washed my expensive white sheets and it's amazing how great they look! I thought my husband had ruined them. This treatment removed the oily smell and waxy feel from his old pillow case (he is not allowed to use the nice ones), and the area from his back is white, not yellow! Thank you!!!!

      FYI - I have a new top loader with no middle agitator, used the soak setting, and added more dish soap than three squirts.

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      Andreas. 17 months ago

      I had a kitchen towel oily and they are very hard to clean even in temps 70c it won't get completely clean. I washed it in 40c with one tbsp baking soda and it came out clean amazingly clean. I was amazed.

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      Hannah 18 months ago

      Wow, this is a great article!! Thank you so much for the detailed tips and hacks, Shay - all wonderful info and it is greatly appreciated.

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      Malvia 18 months ago

      Just washed white sheets plus some t-shirts with yellow spots in the armpit area. I have to say I am greatly disappointed. I followed each step, washed everything in hot water, and it looks exactly the same as before the wash. Maybe I should buy yellow sheets next time...

    • profile image

      Bre 20 months ago

      I use dawn for my bf gym clothing and the sheets. Soak them in a rubbermaid tub for 30 mins before going to the laundromat. Works amazing .

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 20 months ago from Southern California

      @Dawn Conklin - We recently got a front-load washer, but luckily there is a "pre-soak" option that I now use for the sheets. I usually also opt for the extra rinse as well. If your machine doesn't have a pre-soak or pause option, you could just opt for the longest cycle possible or do a hot-water/dish soap presoak in the sink.

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      Shay Marie 20 months ago from Southern California

      @MJ - Good point. I looked into it, and it seems you can still use dish soap with an HE front-loader, it just has to be less since the machine uses less water. A half teaspoon of dish soap should be fine. I believe you can use borax regardless of what machine you have (it does not suds), plus the hot water soak is super important -- with or without the dish soap.

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      Shay Marie 20 months ago from Southern California

      @Cass - YAY! This made me smile!

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      Ati 22 months ago

      try using a dandruff shampoo as a pre soak on the tough oily stains

    • sandeep15r profile image

      Sandeep Rathore 22 months ago from New Delhi

      informative Hub, indeed!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub, Shay. I would love to do this for my next wash, next week.

    • Dawn Conklin profile image

      Dawn Conklin 22 months ago from New Jersey, USA

      We have the problem with some of the older tshirts, you know the ones that he cannot part with! I will have to try this, only thing is that my washer has a locking lid. You put detergent and clothes in then close the door. The washer then fills and washes. I know that I can hit the cycle reset button to unlock door but don't play with that feature because if you hold it in, it drains the washer.

    • profile image

      MJ 22 months ago

      This would harm your machine if it calls for HE detergents. The only thing I might be able to use is the vinegar.

    • profile image

      Brenda 22 months ago

      Shampoo works too

    • Rabadi profile image

      22 months ago from New York

      Great tips I'm following you now :)

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 22 months ago

      Great well written Hub. I'll try your suggestions.

    • profile image

      Cass 22 months ago

      I just used your method to wash my most favourite and well-loved set of white sheets...with a cool scribbly grey chevron pattern...from Target...which we no longer have in Canada...sigh! Anyway, the sheets are FAB now! And the pillowcases! AND even the pillow protectors, which over the years have taken on a sort of yellowy colour and waxy sheen (please tell me someone else out there knows what I'm talking about). Not only do they not smell like my childhood linen cabinet, they are SO BRIGHT and white.

      AMAZING. Thank you. I'm sending this to everyone I know.

    • profile image

      serena 23 months ago

      thanks for your detailed information. I've been looking for this for a while partly for my household and also for linen in our rental accommodation, mostly let by the week. Some guests are definitely more problematic than others! One suggestion could be to bathe at night before going to bed and washing hair more than once a week.

    • Eric Flynn profile image

      Eric Wayne Flynn 23 months ago from Providence, Rhode Island

      Helpful article and funny too. I genuinely laughed at the "saving your marriage" gag. Best to you,

      EWF

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      Steve 2 years ago

      Thanks for your advice. Followed your instructions and satisfied with the result.

    • shay-marie profile image
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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      YES! Fabulous!

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      Heather 2 years ago

      I have been going through a nightmare menopause which seems to be one long hot flash for 3 years and one of the worst things was than no matter how much I washed my clothes, they still smelled stale - yeuch,it made me feel so miserable. But then I followed these instuctions an, amazing, d my clothes smell of nothing but freshness! Shay-Marie, you can't imagine how happy you have made me - thank you ,thank you, thank you!!!

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      Colleen Diemer 2 years ago from Florida

      I really love this formula. Will try for sure. thank you for the great tips. your article was very well written as well. Colleen

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      Could be. In the past, I have had the smell return to older sheets that smelled great out of the dryer - maybe using the sheets speeds up that process?

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      Pickles14 2 years ago

      it's not the pillows. the pillowcases were on brand new pillows. once i slept on it the smell re-emerged. is this possible where i didn't smell it till after the heat from my head was on it?

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      The scent might be coming from the pillow or mattress itself. I use zip-up pillow liners and washable mattress pads and clean those periodically with the same method.

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      Pickles14 2 years ago

      I've had the same issue and find that the linens smell fine and when they're put back on the bed even if the person is clean (body and head) the heat from body or head reactivates the "smell" again. It's still there living in the pillowcases and/or sheets. Has anyone else experienced that? I will have to try your method of washing to hopefully have the smell gone forever. I've thrown pillowcases away because the smell has come back.

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      Dee Dee 2 years ago

      Great tip, I have used Borax with laundry and it works great, but this time I ran out of it and wanted to wash yhe sheets.

      As a substitute for the Borax I used the laundry soap, dish soap, & 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 scoop Oxy Clean and it worked great! Thanks Again!

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      lavenderLove 2 years ago from Philippines

      Cool article you have here....its very helpful....would love to read more articles like this,household stuffs and all....great job!

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      Jennifer Mugrage 2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Thanks for this. I have this problem too.

      So glad the solution does not involve scrubbing.

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      Renee S - That's actually a really good idea. I have never had a problem with the washing machine foaming over or anything, but I can see how it might be a problem if too much is added. Perhaps it would be a good alternative for heavily stained linens? The only issue is a lot of automatic dishwashing detergents contain bleach, which may be less than ideal!

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      Renee S. 2 years ago

      Wouldn't a dishwasher powder do the same job without adding suds?

      Wondering if that much dish soap creates a disaster of bubbles in your washing machine? Must not since it doesn't seem like anyone else is complaining (nor are you).

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      Kali - Bummer! If you use fabric softener, I read it contain wax that build up in our linens and clothes up over time. It's part of the reason why older stains are super difficult to get out. :(

      If it's not too late, you could try it again with a ton more dish soap - maybe even try pretreating it. You could test one pillowcase: pretreat with dishsoap, let it sit for a bit, then let it soak in the hot water. It might help to break up the oils.

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      Kali 2 years ago

      I tried this today on two sets of sheets and a bunch of pillow cases, soaked in hot water and in the bath tub for hours and while the water was all dirty, oil stains are still there. Ugh. I guess time for new sheets.

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      DebMartin 2 years ago

      Good to know. I've inherited some really old but expensive and lovely bedding (some hand embroidered) but I had no idea how to deal with the stains and musky odors. Thanks!

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      Eileen 2 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

      I will certainly try the vinegar - i know it's quite a versatile product !

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      Kaz 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for this. I'm working on packing for a move, and sure enough, the sheets I had washed awhile ago and packed in vacuum bags have that "smell". Much loved t-shirts also exhibited this odor, and I was never really sure what it was. But since I was looking up things to do with pistachio shells, I figured I'd search.. Voila!

      I have front-loaders, so this will probably turn into a pre-soak project in the tub, but I'm realllly hoping it works. Now to find Borax. Not many resellers carry it around here...

      Thank you very much!

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      JB 2 years ago

      I thought my husband was a freak. We had a mattress topper and it turned orange from his body oil. I have never seen such a thing in my life. I cant wait to try this to see if it helps..

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      Jessica 2 years ago

      You saved my $200 sheets! Thanks!

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      YAY! I never get tired of hearing this!

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      Angela 2 years ago

      Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for this post.

      My husband has oily hair and skin, and although the sheets weren't smelly they were definitely stained.

      I washed our linens tonight using this method and the stains were all completely gone. I'm amazed and very happy!

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      Melissa 2 years ago

      Omg!! Thank you! Mom of 4, wife to my best friend!y hubs travels and I always imagined him gone, me leaning towards his side of the bed and missing and Smelling his scent... But no, unfortunately the smell is exactly what you described! I steer clear of his side of the bed, it honestly makes me gag sometimes. And I felt guilt and awful for feeling that way :(

      I found your blog by googling "I can not get my husbands smell out of our sheets even after washing."

      It's sounds mean but I was starting to disgust the odor!! Monday, my youngest's pull-up leaked after he crawled into Our bed sometime in the night. I took the bedding off and replaced it with the bedding I washed about 2 weeks ago, I couldn't resist, and asked my husband, "Dave, do you smell that?" I was grossed out. I re washed them yesterday the new method... For the first time in about 5 years, they smell fresh!!! New!!! I can't tell about the yellowing though because these are relatively new and they are light green patterned. Lol I also bought new pillows with new protectors!!

      I slept so well last night!

      I washed his laundry this week and finally, I took his clothes out of the dryer that did not smell! I am beyond excited I found your blog!! Thanks for saving my marriage too!!

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      Ana Maria Orantes 2 years ago from Miami Florida

      I like your article. It is marvelous that you figure out how to get the stains out of the sheets. Unfortunately, I can not use the formula for my family member's sheets. He has no choice because he has allergies to soaps. He can only use Tide. I am going to try it for my clothes. I will let you know if I get allergies to my skin. Thank you for sharing your formula. I like you and your article too.

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      JKWriter 2 years ago from Right in the middle.

      Great tips! I have a kid who uses the beds as tumbling mats, so the sheets get grimy, oily, sweaty etc. I bet this would work great for that!

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      martyn 2 years ago

      We've had the same problem with stinky oil-stained sheets in our home for our entire 36 years of marriage. I will definitely try adding borax, dish detergent and vinegar to my routine. I wish I could get my husband to wash his hair every evening - I think that would also help. I think it also would help if he would wash his back before bedtime and wear an undershirt to bed.

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      @Nicole Diamond - I'd use the same amount of dish soap/laundry soap/borax for a bucket pre-soak as I suggested in the article (in HOT water); once it cools a little, put the load into the washer and run it with the same amount of soap/borax on a hot/cold (or similar) setting. You could do the whole process by hand, but I'd think the washing machine will do a better job at agitating the fabric post-soak.

      I use vinegar in the rinse in the fabric softener dispenser in my washing machine, but I rarely turn on the "extra rinse" function on the washer (meaning there is no "clean water rinse" after the vinegar rinse as far as I know). Vinegar is a natural fabric softener that can be used exactly how traditional liquid fabric softener is used. The vinegar will be fairly diluted and doesn't smell once dry, so I wouldn't worry about an extra rinse unless you're concerned that you didn't get all the soap out in an earlier step.

      If you think to post a follow-up here, I'd love to know how it works out for you!

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      Nicole Diamond 2 years ago

      I just posted my situation a few seconds ago, and forgot to ask you a question...

      I have a front loader and so I am going to have to do this by hand. What quantities should I use of each item if doing this by hand? I am going to do it in a 5 gallon bucket... what quantities of each ingredient should I use assuming 5 gallons of regular water is used?

      And just to clarify... I put the laundry soap, dishwashing soap and borax in all at the same time in my bucket, right? Then I let it soak. Then I rinse it all out and THEN add some vinegar to one of the rounds of rinsing. So the vinegar is NOT in the actual wash.

      Then I assume I'll do a final rinse with clean water just to make sure all the vinegar gets out too. Is all this correct if doing it by hand?

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      Nicole Diamond 2 years ago

      This is what we are dealing with too! And it is only on my husbands things too. We call it "head sweat" because it is the worst on his pillowcases, but it is also a problem on his shirts and sheets. All places that come into contact with his upper body areas though -- no lower body areas. It is clearly an oily substance -- and I can't get it out of my wash.

      This may sound strange but this has become a serious health problem for him -- very serious -- because the smell is so bad HE has difficulty breathing at night, and it has created an actual sleep disorder. we can't seem to get it out of his clothes. We have gone through numerous washing machines, soaps, etc.... we are so frustrated! We have tried vinegar and that hasn't worked... but the idea of using regular dish soap (we use Planet dish soap) is intriguing. I will try this.

      We have a front loader and this might be hard to do in it. I'll just do it by hand...

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      Shay Marie 2 years ago from Southern California

      I'm sorry to hear that! Were they older sheets? Sometimes if a stain is set in, it can be really difficult to get it out.

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      shaer 2 years ago

      Tried today, did not work :(

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      Rache 2 years ago

      I'm trying this today - you rock for sharing!