How to Remove Rancid Oil from Massage Sheets

In April, I discovered that my beloved deep tissue massage cream had been discontinued. Suddenly, twelve years of using the same fabulous massage cream dissolved in one fell swoop. I broke into a panic and started researching replacements. The reason I loved this cream so much was because of its hypoallergenic nature. I have uber sensitive skin. Most massage creams and oils leave my hands feeling itchy, dry, scaly, and lizard-like, which is pretty bad for the longevity of a massage career. I flew to Seattle and visited my very favorite massage supply store, Zenith Supplies, and bought some samples of creams and lotions for research. My best friend Christine lives near Seattle and volunteered to be my massage lotion testing research subject. She’s so brave. I found two great creams from Biotone, with hypoallergenic ingredients, and have been using them ever since.

Now, here’s the problem. It’s four months into my new massage cream usage. This week, I noticed that my massage sheets are taking on a nasty, rancid oil smell. Yuck!!!!! I am pining for my old deep tissue cream, but it’s not coming back any time soon. So, today I drove to Safeway and bought four cases of Classic Coke (On sale: buy 2 cases, get 2 free).

No, I’m not going on a Coca-Cola drinking binge. My blog is called, “Creating Wellness,” remember?

Did you know that Coca Cola is one of the best degreasers ever? I learned this trick in massage school. One can of Coke emptied into the washing machine along with the normal amount of laundry detergent lifts that nasty rancid oil smell right out of the sheets. It’s like a magic fairy wand. You can let the sheets soak in it for a while, or just run the washer as you normally would. And then, voila! Fresh, clean sheets. Many massage therapists use bleach to pull the oil out. It doesn’t work very well, and leaves your sheets smelling like a rancid hot tub. Yummy.

In the rest of the world, Coca Cola also helps get that stale, human oil smell out of bedsheets. You know what I’m talking about. You pull the “clean” sheets out of the closet, and after you’ve made the bed, there’s an unwashed human smell lingering in the room. Coca Cola is better than linen spray, and a million times better than Tide. With my uber sensitive skin, I don’t want any nasty perfume-y crud rubbing its chemical compounds into my skin. That’s a recipe for disaster.

I found another blog that lists 51 uses for Coca Cola. Let it be known that I have used Coke in the past to remove rust from car brake light wires with fabulous success. Notice that I don’t recommend drinking it. Coca Cola cans are lined with BPA, and the same compound in Coke that degreases my sheets also removes the BPA right along with some of the aluminum from the can. When you drink it from the can, you’re getting all that great BPA along with a shot of aluminum. Keep the Coke in the laundry room.

For the Coca-Cola curious:
51 Uses for Coca Cola – The Ultimate List

29 thoughts on “How to Remove Rancid Oil from Massage Sheets

  1. I’m also going to try this, tho I wonder about the environmental impact of flushing the used coke down the drain with all that BPA, and also worry about its coming in contact with my client’s skin…(realizing that thw coke’s going to be partially rinsed out of the sheets, but still…

  2. I tried this so many times but unfortunately, it hasn’t got rid of the rancid smell. I find it also affects the smell of the rest of the laundry that is in the cupboard with my massage sheets. Is there another ‘natural’ way of ridding this smell?

  3. Yes! Since I have a front-loading washing machine, it’s definitely more difficult to get rancid smells out of laundry. Another great solution is to use 1 tablespoon of Citrasolve with 2 scoops of Oxiclean along with liquid Tide (I use the unscented kind). Tide has enzymes in it and is well-known in the diapering world for getting smells out of diapers, and I’ve found it has extremely good success at eliminating oil stink from sheets. I will still soak my face cradle covers and pillowcase in Coke overnight in the kitchen sink to get them really clean. Another remedy is to use Dawn dish soap, 1 teaspoon in front loaders and 1 tablespoon in top loaders (don’t use too much!!!!!). Dawn is used for removing oil from oil spills, and it also removes oil from sheets. Using too much can make too many bubbles that can destroy your front loading washer, so don’t add any extra soap with this method. And most of all, don’t overload your washing machine! I was putting 3 sets of sheets into my washer and I’ve found that putting 2 sets in the washer helps them agitate against each other a lot more easily and they have no smells at all now.

  4. THANK YOU! I’ve tried Dawn (I figured if P&G got $3 from me once, I wouldn’t die), Natural Dry cleaning, Norwex, many brands of laundry soap and am just so fed up w this rancid smell. I was using organic olive oil for years w not a whiff of problems, but switched to grapeseed and am now just very sad for my sheets 🙁
    Can’t wait to try this!!!

  5. I haven’t tried this yet but I will. I guess you can get away for the BPA and aluminum by using a plastic bottle.

  6. Thank you so much! I have been trying to clean my massage sheets with all kinds of different detergent and the stains always stay there. I’m going to try it next time I wash them. Thanks again for such a great blog!

  7. I’ve been struggling with this problem for a while. I’ve heard that microfiber sheets are the best for absorbing less oil, but I don’t know that personally. My latest somewhat successful formula is for arm&hammer baking soda laundry detergent and about a 1/2 cup vinegar in a front loader. My sheets are still dying, but they are lasting a little longer. Will try the microfiber sheets and update

  8. I was looking to do just that today…. get rid of those smells in the sheets used by our massage therapists.
    All i have is Diet Coke….is that still going to be affective??

  9. Does the cola “wash” also remove oil stains from fabrics? (robes/slippers/microfiber sheets)

  10. I’ve never tried it on specific stains, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt to soak such things for a few hours in a top-loading washer and see what your results are.

  11. I’ve never tried diet coke before, but you can experiment by using it in a test load of sheets to see if it works.

  12. I tried the coke today and it improved my sheets very much. Some still have some of the rancid smell but I am thinking that more washings may take care of that.
    Regarding the ill affects of coke to the environment …. Im not so sure the idea of using tide in conjunction with those other methods is much better. I have heard that using ammonia to sweeten an bad smells is good, the only problem is that with front end washers you can’t soak and you can’t combine ammonia with chorine products- that is dangerous.

  13. I don’t drink coke and am opposed to diet coke, due to health concerns about artificial sweeteners. However, I had some on hand that I serve at fundraisers–if I’m asking for money they may drink whatever they want! So I put my sheets–just one pair–in the front-loader. In the detergent dispenser I put some liquid detergent, two scoops of oxy-clean, and as much diet coke that would fit in the dispenser. Then I poured the rest of the soda right over the sheets. They’re in the dryer now, but they smelled great when they were damp! I’ll update if they don’t smell good when dry!

  14. I’m going to give this a try, Ive also found that 2 cup of vinegar and a cup of baking soda with the reg detergent works extremely well. If you have really raid sheets putting this on the soak cycle works wonders.
    thanks for your coke suggestion, as i will try this my next laundry day
    peace out

  15. I tried the coke thing and it worked well, yet i had reservations about sponsoring such an environmentally unfriendly company. With that said I found the best all natural detergent for massage sheets and towels, It is just 1/4 cup of dr bronners peppermint soap in the wash and one cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. I use micro fiber sheet and this works extremely well on getting my organic massage cream out of the sheets. I wish i knew this years ago. Ive actually started doing all my laundry this way . what a simple environmentally friendly alternative!! Peace out

  16. ONE last try to clean my rancid smelly sheets. I used one quart of white vinegar with about 2 cups of baking soda, added to the laundry water on the large load cycle. after letting it stir up a bit. I turned it off and let it soak for 1 hour. I then added my regular laundry soap and ran in on long cycle. They came out smelling great with no oily feel at all.

  17. Worried that one person is using 2 cups of vinegar in each washload. Ive heard, read that it should be a quarter cup, added at the last rinse cycle. Ive also read that hot water and hot drying in the dryer are too much for sheets, and are not necessary unless you are seeing some very sick clients. That makes sense and will also help preserve the life of your sheets.

    Also, I cant remember where, but I also read that one should wash the sheets, oil soaked, within two or three days, and that any longer, the stains sit in.

    I havent been doing massage for years but am picking it up again. I am quite surprised that there are so many people, who appear to be professionals, who have so many questions…I would have thought that this would have been figured out years ago, after all, this is a science issue, nothing else.

    Also, i was wondering if anyone is using those products, created especially for massage therapists, like Myo-Ther N-Zyme, made in Canada, and Civicide? Both of these companies make table cleaners, and detergents. Has anyone used those at all?

    Finally, I wonder what hotels use? I would assume they sue something other than bleach, because the sheets never smell like bleach, or anything else. Maybe we have to send in an undercover therapist to the Hotel Sonesta…

  18. Microfiber has given us another problem…. less smell but the oil stains the sheets and looks like yellow pee stains. As this is absolutely gross, we will be getting rid of these sheets. They did feel great though.

  19. I tried the 12 oz. Coke a couple of times, it didn’t work, but it DID stain my sheets.

  20. I’m not sure if Coca Cola gets the smell of cat pee out. You might be better off soaking them in Anti Icky-Poo (sold at Petco).

  21. How did you add the Coke to your wash? It’s better with a top loader, and just like with bleach, it’s better to add the Coke and make sure the washer is filling up BEFORE you add sheets. Pouring the Coke on top of the sheets would probably stain them just as if you spilled Coke on a white shirt. It needs to be diluted first.

  22. I’ve found the best way for laundering massage sheets and it’s all natural . 3/4 to 1 cup dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap added to washer. Then in the rinse cycle add 1cup white vinegar . Sheets come out oil free and fresh. If you want you can add your reg detergent to the wash as well. I hope this helps. Peace out. Paul

  23. Coca Cola works wonders! I also added some Borax along with my detergent in my top-loading washer filled with hot water and let my sheets soak for 45 minutes. My sheets and towels smell and feel super-fresh. I am a believer now!!

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