Whether it’s brand-new synthetic oil or the viscous black sludge that drains out of an engine, the last place you want to find motor oil is spilled on your clothing. It’s a headache to treat thanks to a mystery list of toxic chemical ingredients and strong signature smell. Nowadays, a good deal of folks trust mechanics and drive-through technicians with the chore of changing their vehicle’s oil, but those who do it themselves save some serious cash. Admittedly, the best way to avoid motor oil splatter is to wear clothing (like coveralls) that you don’t mind sacrificing to stains. That said, accidents happen.
Golden rules for treating motor oil stains:
- Never rub or scrub oil stains
- Treat the stain with urgency; sooner is better than later
- Absorb the oil with a powder before washing
- Never apply dry heat to an oil stain until you’re done treating
What you’ll need to treat motor oil stains:
- A blunt scraping tool (butter knife, spatula, etc.)
- An absorbent powder like cornstarch or baking soda
- Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips or Tru Earth Platinum laundry detergent eco-strips
How to treat and remove motor oil stains in 7 easy steps
Step 1: Identify the fabric type
Inspect the fabric care label to note the delicacy of the textile and how it should be laundered.
Note: The following stain guide is for items that can be machine laundered or hand washed. For dry clean-only clothing, complete steps two and three, then immediately bring to a professional dry cleaner.
Step 2: Remove any excess motor oil from the garment
Using a blunt tool (like a butter knife), lift any excess oil from the fabric, taking special care not to spread or transfer it to other parts of the item. Next, blot with paper towel.
Step 3: Sprinkle with an absorbent powder
Shake a generous amount of cornstarch or baking soda atop the stain. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The powder will absorb any lingering oil which can then be shaken off and/or scraped into the garbage.
Step 4: Pre-treat with an effective laundry detergent
Apply a concentrated stain treatment using Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips.
Tear a strip of Tru Earth into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the residues from the fabric.
Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Don't rinse.
Step 5: Time to wash
If the garment is machine-washable, toss it in the washer alongside a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip on its typical wash setting.
Tip 1: Wash the item alone; you don’t want the oil to transfer to other clothing.
Tip 2: Once the cycle is complete, give the washer’s drum a good wipe to ensure no traces of motor oil remain.
For hand wash-only items, tear up the strip, place the pieces in a sink or basin and cover with tap-hot water. Allow it to soak and then agitate the article and rinse.
Step 6: Hang dry
Only place the garment in the dryer once you are finished stain treating; the heat of the machine will “set” any remaining stains, making them permanent.
Step 7: Inspect the stain
Has it resolved? If not, repeat the stain treatment in step four and launder again.
What if the motor oil stain still persists?
If the stain appears to have set, consider bringing it to a professional dry cleaner.
If you’re desperate and willing to go out on a limb, Internet users suggest applying a dollop of GOJO® Orange Smooth industrial hand cleaner as a stain remover. (Rinse before washing in the machine.) Tracking some down will require asking your local mechanic to spare a pump or two.