How to Get Motor Oil and Grease Stains Out of Clothes

When you make a living fixing cars, dealing with dirt and grime is basically in the job description. So, when you inevitably stain your clothes with some type of oil or grease, don’t think you have to throw them out (unless you want to upgrade). To keep your uniforms looking professional, you can always try removing grease and oil stains yourself. Word to the wise: because these fluids don’t break down with water alone, you’ll have to try a little harder to get these kinds of stains out.

To remove grease or oil stains from your workwear, you’ll need to use a common household cleaner, like dish detergent, baking soda, or cornstarch, along with a little bit of time and effort. Use the methods below for easy oil and grease stain removal without buying an expensive stain remover: 

1. Removing Grease Stains with Dish Detergent

Let’s start off with using dish detergent to get rid of the stain. After all, it's designed to get rid of grease on pots and pans, but it’s also safe to use on clothes. Here’s what you’ll have to do:

Materials:

• Old towl or cardboard
• Dish detergent
• Soft cloth

Steps:

1. Lay your clothing flat.
2. Place an old towel or cardboard under the stain.
3. Apply a small amount of dish detergent to the grease stain.
4. Rub the detergent gently with a soft cloth to saturate the stain.
5. Let the detergent sit for around 5 minutes.
6. Wash and dry the clothes according to the clothing label directions.
7. Watch this video to see how it's done:

2. Removing Grease Stains with Baking Soda

Baking soda works well on stains that have yet to set or be run through the washer. Baking soda can be used to draw the grease stain out and away from fabric. Here’s how to do it:

Materials:

• Old towel or cardboard
• Baking soda
• Scraping tool (anything dull and rigid)
• Hot water

Steps:

1. Lay your clothing flat.
2. Place an old towel or cardboard under the stain.
3. Sprinkle baking soda on top of the grease.
4. Let the baking soda set for about 10 minutes while watching for it to change color as it soaks up the stain.
5. Scrape off the baking soda.
6. Wash clothing with hot water.
7. Repeat steps 3-5 until the baking soda does not change color.
8. Dry according to your clothing’s label.

If the stain persists, add liquid dish detergent to the stain and then more baking soda. Scrub the stain with a toothbrush before letting the mixture set for about 10 minutes. Repeat Step 6 when finished.

3. Removing Grease Stains with Aloe Vera Gel

That soothing gel you use for sunburns can also be used for grease stains. Here’s how it’s done:

Materials:

• Hot and warm water
• Aloe Vera gel

Steps:

1. Soak the garment in hot water.
2. Remove the garment, and scrub Aloe Vera gel into the stain in a tight, circular motion.
3. Wash the garment in warm water.
4. Air dry or hang dry the garment when you use this method.

4. Removing Grease Stains with Baby Powder

This method is similar to the baking powder method. If you have baby powder on hand, put it to work to remove your fresh grease or oil stains. Here are the steps:

Materials:

• Baby powder
• Toothbrush

Steps:

1. Lay your clothing flat.
2. Sprinkle on some baby powder.
3. Let the baby powder set for about 10 minutes.
4. Brush off the baby powder with a toothbrush.
5. If the stain is still visible, put the garment in a washing machine with cold water.
6. Dry according to your clothing’s label.

5. Removing Grease Stains with Cornstarch

Cornstarch is another fine powder that can come through in a mighty way when it comes to grease stains. Here's what to do:

Materials:

• Cornstarch
• Toothbrush, damp sponge, or rag

Steps:

1. Pour a small amount of cornstarch on the stain.
2. Let the cornstarch set for at least 15 minutes, but up to an hour or more.
3. Brush off the cornstarch using a toothbrush, damp sponge or rag. You could also leave it on the garment before washing.
4. Wash the garment in a washing machine on a cold setting.
5. Dry according to your clothing’s label.

6. Removing Grease Stains with Mechanics Soap

As a mechanic, you’ve probably used mechanics soap everyday not knowing it can clean stains as well as it can clean your skin. Little did you know, this kind of soap was actually designed to do both.

Materials:

• Old towel or cardboard
• Mechanics soap

Steps:

1. Lay your clothing flat.
2. Place an old towel or cardboard under the stain.
3. Apply the soap to the stain.
4. Allow the soap to set for 15 to 30 minutes.
5. Wash the garment in a washing machine separately, to avoid a mechanics soap smell on your entire wash load (unless you like that sort of thing).
6. Dry according to your clothing’s label.

While each method may need to be repeated to remove set-in grease, stains like these are no match for common household items and a little bit of elbow grease. Now that you know what to do, you’ll be able to go back to work in a shirt that looks as good as new without having bought an expensive stain remover to get the job done. Better yet, get a shirt with built in stain-blocking technology that keeps stains from forming in the first place.

Save Time with Oil Repellent Clothing

If there was a way to avoid the stain altogether, would you try it? OilBlok Technology, offered exclusively by Red Kap, repels some of the toughest garage liquids to keep stains from forming. Replace your old workwear with garments sporting our OilBlok Technology so your shop clothes stay looking professional and are always ready to go.

If you’re part of a crew, talk to your manager about outfiting the whole team. With OilBlok Technology, you and your fellow wrenchers can forget worrying about staining your uniform and focus on getting the job done.