Have you ever found something and wondered, "Where has this been all my life?" That was my reaction to a simple, heavy-duty cleaning product: Lestoil. Apparently it's been manufactured right here in the U.S. for more than 80 years and is loved by many. Curiously, I'd never heard of it until just a few months ago. On the off chance you are not familiar with this powerful cleaner of all things hopelessly stained, here are 10 things you will enjoy knowing.
Number 1: Lestoil is a heavy-duty, multi-purpose cleaner that can be used at full strength on stains, especially really difficult stains — the kinds of stains you just give up on, such as ink, toner, grease, oil, scuff marks, blood, lipstick, nail polish, grass, coffee, crayon, marker and even the sticky residue from stickers and labels.
Number 2: Lestoil has been around since 1933. Although I haven't been around quite that long, I do wonder where I've been, since I've only learned about this product in the past few months.
Number 3: Lestoil has removed every old stain I ever gave up on, as well as every new stain I've acquired since it came into my life — on clothing, carpet, concrete and all kinds of patio furniture, including molded plastic. It removed black stains that accumulated on outdoor furniture covers. It made short order of some ugly stains on cultured stone. It removed that gross stickiness from vinyl and plastic, returning the smooth, clean finish. Lestoil has worked on everything I've tried so far.
Number 4: Lestoil contains sodium tallate, among other things, which is a type of soap. This means that once its job is done, it must be washed off or otherwise removed to make sure the item being treated doesn't retain a residue that will attract a new stain.
Number 5: Lestoil has a strong odor. It smells like an industrial factory that is being cleaned with pine oil. That's because it does contain pine essential oil, a powerful, natural cleaner and degreaser. This is another reason you will always want to wash off Lestoil once its job is done. But so far the odor hasn't remained long term after I've used it.
Number 6: Lestoil is highly concentrated. A little goes a long way. You want to use it at full strength for laundry stains, but in a small amount — just enough to cover the stain. Then, scrub gently with an old toothbrush. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes, and then launder the item as usual. For large jobs like cleaning tile or linoleum floors, dilute about 1 cup of Lestoil in a bucket of hot water.
Number 7: Lestoil is powerful. It's so strong that it can dissolve the finish on water-based and oil-based painted surfaces, laminate and wood floors when used at full strength. Therefore, do not use it at full strength on these types of surfaces. Even if you intend to use it in a weak dilution, always test in an inconspicuous place first before using it on any painted, laminate or wood surfaces.
Number 8: When diluted in water (2 tablespoons Lestoil to 1 cup water), this product will remove greasy, oily stains from carpet. Make sure the stain is saturated well and then scrub with a clean, white cloth. Blot the stain, and then repeat the steps as necessary until the stain is gone. Be sure to rinse well and blot well to dry. Always test the solution in a closet or other inconspicuous place.
Number 9: Lestoil is smelly. Did I already say that? I need to emphasize it. Make sure you wear gloves when working with it. Seriously. This stuff is strong, but not unreasonably harmful. And it's totally worth the smell, which dissipates fairly quickly. Whenever possible use it outdoors.
Number 10: Lestoil is not a well-known product, therefore it can be difficult to find. I have yet to find a store in my area that has even one bottle for sale. However, I suggest you check Walmart, Lowe's and Home Depot. Your best bet is to buy it online, where it is readily available.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.