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Old 09-11-2013, 12:17 PM
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(I'm not sure if this is the right place for this question... so I apologize if it needs to be moved...)

My son is about to begin a pre-apprenticeship automotive mechanic program, and he's going to have coveralls or "work clothes" that will be covered in grease and oil and gunk from working with cars and engines, building transmissions, etc.

I would like to know how others clean these clothes? What detergents work best? Can you wash them in a regular washing machine? Do you soak them in something first? What works better - liquid or powder detergents?

Also - what soaps work well to get that stuff off your skin?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:22 PM
Location: San Antonio, TX USA
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I would imagine the place he works will take care of the cleaning. When I worked at Jiffy Lube back in the day, the uniform provider took care of the cleaning.

Dish soap work good at getting grease off hands, and most auto parts stores sell "fast orange" or a similar product It works really good as well
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:34 PM
Location: Texas
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It's going to depend a lot on the washer. The new HE washers that use little water are absolute crap for removing anything but perfume. If you have an old type washer that you control the water level, you can make a solution of 1/3 Dawn with 2/3 water and use it as spot spray on the stains. It works great but you may need an extra rinse depending on how much spray you have to use. For me I rarely need an additional rinse but I only turn wrenches on my own fleet.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:56 PM
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Dawn dish soap gets grease out of everything!

One of my grease guns dropped a clump of grease on the white carpet in my apartment. Unfortunately, I stepped in it and tracked it. Some dawn dish soap and a scrubbing brush got it right out.

I was lodaing some old dirty, greasy jeep parts in the back of my Cherokee. It stained the tan seats. Scrubbing the area with Dawn got it right out!
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:25 PM
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Don't use home washer!!!!!! Go to any public laundry.
Also, if he has to buy his own and wash them, buy ones that are stain proof, or teflon coated. Helps.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:43 PM
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
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If uniform rental is available he should go that route. If it's not available through the school he should look into getting uniforms on his own, but it might be a little pricey for an individual.

If rentals aren't available or feasible, he should get one or two pair of coveralls to wear at all times while he's working on cars. That will keep him from getting his street clothes messed up.

As far as cleaning them, others have given good suggestions. Since I've never worked in a shop for a living I've never been too concerned with getting them super spotless, so I've just washed them in a heavy-duty detergent with a colorfast bleach. I agree with taking them to the laundramat rather than putting them in the wash at home. If they get extremely grimey he can take them to the car wash for a pre-wash.

As far as skin goes, most of the products out there work well. I've used GoJo, Fast Orange, and Lava at various times and all of them work fine. Dawn or other brands of grease-fighting dish soaps work well, too. Make sure to have a fingernail brush handy, and designate a specific sink for him to clean up at and certain towels to use.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:04 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
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I usually pre-treat grease and oil stains with waterless hand cleaner or a stain stick. Wisk brand detergent generally seems to do a little better getting heavy oil out, you can pour the liquid right on the oil/grease.

Hot water wash helps too.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:41 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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I pre-soak overalls for a couple days in a 5 gallon pail w/ mix of powered (or liquid) laundry cleaner, then rinse 2X (outside, not into my septic tank).
then wash 'warm' w/rinse cold i.e. as my normal jeans. Run 2 cycles if necessary (not usually)

hands - Hand Cleaner 'goop' / Go-Jo ... is ok, and a good start, but I rely on Lava 'bar-soap' for most practical, and I alway keep plenty around. I use Boraxo sprinkled into Lava for the tough stuff.

At night before bed I use Cornhusker Lotion or Vaseline intensive care lotion / similar (to re-moisturize skin that has been in solvents).

Cuticle damage? (Likely) this stuff is WONDERFUL - Healthy Hoof

Good luck with the program... I'm taking on a HS 'homeschool' student that is in 2nd yr Diesel. We are building him a Turbo Diesel GTI (for under $1000), as well as other projects (cut up a Passat body for scrap yesterday, building a few $100 motorcycles I picked up, rebuilding an Air compressor). I give him tools and parts in trade for labor. He will learn from me a bit of Machining and welding, body work and painting by end of school yr. as well as rebuilding his own engine and a few of mine. + numerous brake jobs. THEN he can decide on Vocational or College bound. My own kids did both. but have each stayed 'professional' as much as possible (opposite of me of course. ) They were not keen on EVERYDAY getting dirty and greasy, but they know how to 'do-it' (rebuild engines, brakes and re-paint cars) and when repair folks are possibly blowing smoke.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:13 PM
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Thanks everybody. We don't have the option of uniforms or rental/professional cleaners so he's bringing his stuff home to wash. (It's part of a charter public high school program that is working with the local community college.)

I just bought a huge thing of Dawn and Lava bar soap we'll see how it goes. I have a huge plastic tub dedicated specifically to the purpose of soaking his clothes. We're soaking them overnight in Dawn (scrubbing Dawn and OxyClean into the bad spots) and then washing the next day with Tide and OxyClean (and yes we have HE machines but they are top loaders and seem to do a good job. We had front-loaders that were OK but I prefer the top-loaders...)

A neighbor of ours figured out how to dig down and find the box buried in the yard that you can use to turn the water pressure up... this was done awhile ago... and so our water pressure is very strong. I plan to hose the super greasy spots down (after soaking) with the hose if they are super grubby, prior to washing.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:02 PM
Location: Ft. Myers
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My Sons and I have a hobby shop where we build cars and we have found a great (and cheap) prewash that really gets the grease and oil off our clothes. It is available at the Dollar Stores and is called Awesum Laundry Prewash, and it is only a buck for a big spray bottle.

I have tried all the name brand ones and this one is so much better. It even gets ink spots out of my Sons dress shirts. I guarantee you will not find a better one at any price. I have forgotten to take off some good tan pants when I worked at the shop and as I was spraying the Awesum stuff on them the grease was starting to run off. When the pants were washed every bit of grease was gone.

Awesum has a line of cleaners and all of them are just that........awesome.

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