How to Get Motor Oil and Grease Stains Out of Clothes (7 Methods)

If you repair a car, there is a huge chance that you'll get some sort of grease or motor oil on your clothes at one point. Here are seven methods for removing the stain.

Get Motor Oil And Grease Stains Out Of Clothes

As a mechanic, you are sure to end up with oil and grease on your clothing. While it helps to wear old clothing that you don’t care about, you still want to know how to remove these stains. Thankfully, you can use many different products if you want to learn how to get oil and grease stains out of clothes.

In this guide, we review the top ways to get these stubborn stains out of your clothing. We also look at whether WD-40 is a good option or not. 

How to Get Motor Oil and Grease Stains Out of Clothes

Removing oil and grease from clothes can be quite tricky and you may need to try a few different methods before you succeed depending on the type of grease stain and fabric material.

Some people prefer to use mechanic’s soap on the stain, but dish soap can also work. Here are all the methods, so you can decide which one works best in your situation.

The best ways to get oil and grease stains out of clothes include:

  1. Mechanic’s Soap
  2. Dish Detergent
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Baby Powder
  5. Cornstarch
  6. Aloe Vera Gel
  7. Brake Cleaner

Here down below is a complete list of the whole procedure to remove oil and grease stains from clothes for each method:

1. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Mechanic’s Soap

Mechanic Wash Hands

If you do any work on your vehicle, you already have some special mechanic’s soap on hand. Just as this substance can get stains off of your hands, it’s also possible to get it removed from your clothing. However, it’s not meant to work with all fabrics, so you might want to test it in a small space first. 

Once you are sure the mechanic’s soap will work on your clothing, you can follow these simple steps to remove oil and grease stains from your clothes.

  1. Lay out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Put cardboard or an old towel under the spot you are working on.
  3. Place a small amount of the soap on the stain. You should scrub the stain slightly, putting a little elbow grease into it. 
  4. Let the soap sit for up to thirty minutes. 
  5. Wash the clothing in your machine with regular detergent. 
  6. Dry it however the label recommends. 

Some people prefer to allow the clothing to air dry at first, just to be sure the stain is removed. Once it has gone through a dryer, it’s more difficult to get the stain out. 

2. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Dish Detergent

Dish Detergent

If you don’t have mechanic’s soap on hand, the next best option would be dish detergent. Think about how well these cleaners get the oil and grease off of your pans. Most formulations are also safe for use on clothing. 

Many of the steps remain the same as with the mechanic’s soap. Remember to test it first in an unseen location.

  1. Lay out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Put cardboard or an old towel under the spot.
  3. Place a small amount of the dish soap on the stain. Rub it in gently until it’s completely saturated.
  4. Let the soap sit for five minutes. 
  5. Wash the clothing in your machine with regular detergent. 
  6. Dry it however the label recommends.

Again, you might consider hang drying the garment at first. Once you know the stain has been removed, you can throw it in the dryer.  

3. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Baking soda has been used as a cleaner for generations. It’s also a great option if the stain has already set and has become difficult to remove. This substance is known for drawing out grease stains and pulling them away from the fabric.

Here are some general steps you can follow.

  1. Lay out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Put cardboard or an old towel under the spot.
  3. Scatter a generous amount of baking soda on the stain. 
  4. Leave the baking soda on the stain for ten minutes. It should start to change to a different color as the stain gets soaked up.
  5. Scrape the powdery substance off.
  6. Wash the clothing in your machine with regular detergent. 
  7. Dry it however the label recommends.

Because baking soda will work on set stains, you can repeat these steps as needed. The baking soda should stop changing color once the stain has fully been removed. 

4. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Baby Powder

Baby Powder

You can use baby powder in the same way you use baking soda. It’s going to provide similar results, but it’s best not to have any formulation with lots of added fragrances or chemicals, as these can lead to further stains.

Follow these guidelines when you are ready.

  1. Lay out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Put cardboard or an old towel under the spot.
  3. Sprinkle a generous amount of baby powder on the stain. 
  4. Let the baby powder remain on the stain for ten minutes. It should also start to change color as the stain gets soaked up.
  5. Brush off all of the powder with a toothbrush.
  6. Wash the clothing in your machine with regular detergent. 
  7. Dry it however the label recommends.

Unlike baking soda, this method isn’t as good with set-in stains. You will want to get the stain removed before you dry the clothing, just to be sure. 

5. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Cornstarch

Cornstarch

If you don’t have either of the other powders, you might consider cornstarch. While it’s known for thickening gravies and other kitchen concoctions, it could remove those tough stains too.

Here are some guidelines you might choose to follow.

  1. Lay out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Put cardboard or an old towel under the spot.
  3. Sprinkle a generous amount of cornstarch on the stain. 
  4. Let the cornstarch sit for 15 minutes. If the stain is really bad, you could leave it on there for up to an hour. 
  5. Brush off the cornstarch with a toothbrush, rag or damp cloth. However, the powder doesn’t need to be removed at all if you would rather just wash it as is. 
  6. Wash the clothing in your machine with regular detergent. 
  7. Dry it however the label recommends.

If the stain is still there after washing, you might prefer to repeat the steps with some cornstarch and dish detergent, giving it a double punch. Scrub it well before washing it again. 

6. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera gel might be best known for making you feel better after getting a sunburn, but some people use it on stains. If the other options aren’t available to you, this might be the best backup you have.

Follow these directions carefully after you test a small patch on the garment. 

  1. Soak the clothing in hot water first.
  2. Remove it from the water and scrub a small amount of aloe Vera gel into the stain. Work in a circular motion across the stain.
  3. Wash out the clothing in warm water.
  4. Air dry the piece of clothing to see if the stain is removed.

Once this stain is removed, you can wash and dry it as normal. If the Aloe Vera doesn’t work, it’s best to try one of the other options instead because most of them work better. 

7. Removing Oil And Grease Stains With Brake Cleaner

Brake Cleaner

Probably one of the most effective ways to remove oil and grease stains is to use something that most mechanics have in their workshop – Brake Cleaner.

It is a very effective way to remove stains from clothes that are not very sensitive. Brake cleaner is very harsh on clothes and can ruin them, so don’t use brake cleaner on clothes you care about! This is just a tip on what you can do with your workshop clothes, and therefore we also listed it in the last place on our list.

  1. Spray the brake cleaner on the strain
  2. Carefully scrub it with a brush or something similar. Don’t use your hands because brake cleaner is dangerous to your skin.
  3. Let the brake cleaner dry and spray on more if needed.
  4. Wash your clothes in your machine with regular detergent to ensure there is no brake cleaner left in the clothing.

RELATED: Steering Wheel Cleaner – What’s Best to Use?

Does WD-40 Remove Oil or Grease from Clothing?

There are a lot of rumors online that WD-40 can take grease and oil out of clothing. Even though this is an oil as well, it will remove the stain from the fabric. The only trouble with getting the grease stain out with WD-40 is that you will then need to use the methods to remove the new stain that is created. WD-40 is going to leave a residue behind on most fabrics. 

It’s also not the best product to use if you are hoping to find an eco-friendly alternative. You can find a majority of dish soaps that are eco-friendly and will still remove the stain. Even using baking soda or cornstarch would be a better option. 

Tips for Getting Grease or Oil out of Clothing

We have a few more tips that should help you out. Aside from our steps on removing the stains, consider these suggestions.

  1. If you aren’t at home when the stains occur, try to work on them as soon as possible. If there’s nothing you can do right away, sprinkle some salt on it or use artificial sweetener. These products keep the stain from setting.
  2. Blot the stain with water right away to remove any residue that hasn’t made its way into the fabric yet. 
  3. Wear clothing that is stain-repellant to avoid these troubles. If you have a pair of coveralls, these should be worn when you are working on a vehicle. 

Prevention is always better than dealing with the stain afterward. If you can’t find any other way to avoid stains, buy a separate set of clothes for when you are working on your vehicle.

RELATED: How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Car (Exterior & Interior)

FAQs

Will vinegar remove grease from clothes?

Vinegar can work for removing grease from clothes, but there are many better options. First, vinegar does not work with some clothing fabrics, so there is a risk of damaging them. It can also cause bad odors from your clothes.

Does oil permanently stain clothes?

Oil can permanently stain your clothes if you don’t take care of the stain quickly. Therefore, it is a very good idea to try to remove the oil stain with an appropriate method as soon as possible before it leaves a permanent stain.

What home remedy takes grease out of clothes?

Dish detergent, baking soda or baby powder are three home remedies you can use to remove oil and grease from your clothes. You can also try cornstarch or Aloe vera gel if you have them available, but they are not quite as effective.

Can hand sanitizer remove oil stains?

Whether a hand sanitizer is effective for removing oil stains or not, depends on the type of hand sanitizer and the oil stain in question. But in general, hand sanitizers that contain alcohol can be effective at removing oil stains, but they can be harsh on some clothing fabrics, so you need to be careful.

Final Words

Removing oil or grease stains from clothing can be a real pain, especially if not done right away. But if you are a mechanic, you will get used to getting oil stains on your clothes pretty quickly, and you will also find ways to remove them effectively.

I hope this guide helped you remove the oil or grease stains from your clothes and that you now have the knowledge to prevent permanent stains in the future.

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