How to Clean Dirty Work Clothes From Any Job

Work clothes can get especially dirty. There are often environmental aspects, such as coming into contact with grease or oil or particularly smelly odors, to contend with in many workplaces. 

It is important to be presentable in the workplace, which means uniforms and work clothes need to be properly cleaned, and stains and smells must be effectively removed. There are methods for cleaning these difficult stains and keeping your work wear looking sharp.

Pretreat Stains

One of the best methods for getting work clothes clean is to pretreat stains before washing them. There are several options for pretreatment, including Fels-Naptha, which is a laundry bar that you wet and rub on the stain, let sit for a few minutes and then wash the clothes. Another option is Spray n’ Wash, which you spray directly on the stain, let sit and then wash the clothes.

Soak & Scrub

Often one of the keys to removing tough stains, such as oil or grease, involves soaking the fabric for a period of time, often overnight. You fill a basin with either warm or cold water and detergent, and then let the clothes soak. 

You can use stain remover ahead of time and scrub the stains under running water before soaking. A toothbrush can be a great tool for scrubbing out stains. 

It is helpful to turn the garments inside out and scrub on the opposite side of the stain. If the clothes smell bad, add a cup of white vinegar to the basin or tub while the clothes are soaking. 

DIY Stain Removers

There are several products that you probably already have handy that can be used to help remove stains. Be sure to read all the labels on your work clothes before using any products on them. Different materials can be sensitive to specific chemicals or products. 

Here are some DIY stain removers you can try from household products:

  • Baking soda: Baking soda can be used for grease and oil stains, both during the pretreatment for stain removal and during the soak. For pretreatment, sprinkle the baking soda on the stain, and then soak it in white vinegar. Before putting it into the washing machine, scrub the clothes thoroughly with dish soap.  Baking soda acts as both a stain remover and deodorizer for work clothes. This can leave them smelling fresh and clean.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Mixing one part water with one part hydrogen peroxide can be a great method for pretreating difficult stains, including grass, food, glue and blood. It can also help brighten dingy or gray-looking whites.

  • Dish soap: You can mix one part dish soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide to make an effective stain remover. Spray or dab the mixture onto the stain before putting the clothes into the washing machine.

Use a Heavy-Duty Cycle & Wash Hot

After pretreating and soaking work clothes to tackle difficult stains, you can then put the clothes into the washing machine. Depending on the machine, the setting will either read bulky or heavy-duty for heavily soiled clothing. 

You will want to wash work clothes separately from other laundry. Generally, washing work clothes in hot water is ideal. Again, it is important to read the labels on the clothing from the manufacturer to determine what will work best. 

After running the clothes through the washing machine, it is sometimes optimal to line dry them instead of putting them in the dryer. If stains are not completely removed, the dryer can set them. Line drying work clothes in fresh air can help further remove odors and leave clothes smelling good. 

Consider a Uniform Laundry or Uniform Rental Service

There are work clothes and uniforms that are “no stain” work wear or stain repellent, which can help keep stains from setting into these clothes. When you use Alsco’s uniform laundry service to wash work clothes, we take care of stains for you. If stains don’t come out, we replace the uniform. We handle it all, so you can focus on your business. 

We will install clean and dirty laundry lockers at your facility and ensure clean uniforms are being replaced on a schedule that works for you. We take dirty laundry away for cleaning and repairs and replace it with clean, fresh work uniforms. 


Purex® Fels-Naptha® Laundry Bar. (2022). Henkel Corporation. 

Spray 'n Wash. Reckitt Benckiser. (2022).

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