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How to Remove Motor Oil from Your Clothing

Posted by Andres Jimenez on
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 If you’re someone who works in the car industry, then chances are that you’ve had your fair share of motor oil stains that you’ve had to deal with.  And, you likely wear clothes that you’re okay getting dirty.  But, if you’re just a casual car owner trying to replace your oil, or you’ve walked into an autobody shop and have had the unfortunate experience of brushing up against some oil, then you may be panicking given the tough nature of motor oil stains on fabrics.  Luckily, there’s a relatively simple method that can give you a good chance of getting rid of the stain completely.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Motor Oil Stains

The tricky thing about motor oil stains is that they’re oil-based, and oil is tough to get out of clothes.  Combine that with their dark color and you have a pretty pesky stain.  Still, motor oil can come out of clothes, especially if you treat the stains in a timely manner and use a strong degreaser.  And, you have a great chance of salvaging it with some helpful advice coming up here.

However, you might want to consider how badly you need to fix your stained clothing before doing all this.  For instance, if you usually wear grungy clothes when working in a garage, best to then leave the stains and just keep those as your work clothes.  On the flip side, if you had to change a tire while wearing your nice clothes, then you should put some effort into getting those clothes clean again!

As always, once again, it’s best to treat the stain as soon as possible, but even if the oil has dried, this method should work.  Remember though, placing anything flammable in your washing machine, and of course, the dryer, might introduce a potential fire hazard.

  1. Remove the garment and run it under hot water in a sink in your home for about 5 minutes. The hot water can help get the oil out of the material so that it rinses down the drain.  This alone may be enough to remove many motor oil stains.
  2. Check the garment to see how bad the stain is now that you’ve run it under hot water. If it’s fading but still there, keep it under hot water for longer, until it’s about as faded as it’s going to get.
  3. Remove the garment and sprinkle the stain generously with cornstarch, and let it sit overnight. Cornstarch can absorb much if not all of the oil, and also, will do it more effectively the longer it sits. 
  4. The next morning, brush away the cornstarch and rub some Grab Green Liquid Dish Soap into the stain. Liquid dish soap can help break up the remaining grease. 
  5. Rinse the garment and throw it into the washing machine using a warm or hot water cycle, depending on the label’s care instructions. We strongly recommend using an enzyme-based laundry detergent to further break up the oil, such as Grab Green’s 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Pods, 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Powder, or Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods.
  6. At this point, the stain should be gone, and you can throw it into the dryer as you normally would. If not, you can try applying rubbing alcohol to the stain and letting it sit for 10 minutes before blotting it away with a clean cloth.  Keep in mind that rubbing alcohol can destroy silk, rayon, acetate, and wool, so skip this step if you have a garment made of any of these material types.  Once you’re done, launder the item again.

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Motor Oil Belongs in Your Car, Not on Your Favorite Clothes

While we do our best to avoid getting motor oil onto our clothing, sometimes we can’t avoid it.  Using a pre-soak prior to washing a garment with oil stains also provides a low-effort stain removal method.  And, luckily, in most cases, you can get rid of a motor oil stain, but only if you follow the steps above, because otherwise, you may end up setting the stain by accident, making it permanent.

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