How to Get Car Oil Out of Clothes

Been working on your car in your Sunday best recently? Perhaps you broke down at the roadside and had to do some repairs without your usual overalls on? Motor oil and other vehicle fluids can be tough to remove from clothes, causing a headache you could have done without.

Don’t worry, though, as that oil-stained shirt and splattered pair of jeans are salvageable. Over the years, the team at Redex has gotten used to cleaning clothes after working beneath the bonnet, and so are well placed to offer some essential tips for removing car oil from clothing.

Does car oil stain clothes?

Yes, and in a big way. Motor oil is devilishly tricky to remove from clothes once it’s bedded in, so the best thing you can do is to act fast when you notice a drop somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Remember that motor oil is specifically designed to be tough, durable, and long-lasting, so there’s little wonder it’s so difficult to get out of clothing. All types of oil – including motor oil and cooking oil – don’t dissolve through contact with water alone, so a standard cycle in your washing machine may not be enough to lift oil stains from most fabrics.

One of the most annoying things about oil stains is that if they’re not dealt with straight away, they can get worse over time. That’s because the oil itself traps other dirt and particles, intensifying and darkening the stain.

You may notice this if you’ve ever tried to wash oil stains out of clothes on a normal wash cycle. The oil picks up other dirt in your washing machine, so it actually comes out looking worse than when it went in!

Tough stuff, then, so how exactly do you safely and effectively remove clothes oil stains? We’ve covered a few different methods in the section below.

How to remove car oil from clothes: Two methods to try

The trick to removing oil stains from clothes is to break down the oil molecules so that they can lift away from the surface of the material. Of course, this is easier said than done, but using the right products and methods can help.

Here are two solutions that you can use to remove car oil marks from your clothing.

1. Washing up liquid

Although you should never use washing up liquid for cleaning your car, it’s a good solution for removing oil stains from clothing. Remember, washing up liquid is designed to dissolve grease on dirty dishes in the kitchen, so there’s a chance it can work to dissolve motor oil on your clothes too.

Using washing up liquid to remove car oil stains works best when added as a pre-treatment before putting the item in the wash. Just work a few drops of washing up liquid into the stain with a clean, dry cloth, wait an hour or so, and then proceed to put your clothes through a warm wash cycle.

With any luck, the washing up liquid will have done its job before you even switch on the washer – breaking down the oil so that it simply lifts away during the wash cycle. If it’s a particularly ingrained stain, it may not work after just one treatment, so don’t be afraid to try again and leave the washing up liquid to work for a little longer before proceeding with another hot wash.

2. Baking soda

Baking soda is a go-to product for a whole range of laundry and household cleaning tasks, and it could just prove the hero again in helping to lift car oil stains from your clothes.

Like washing up liquid, baking soda is capable of dissolving grease, dirt, and oil, so it’s ideal for this exact purpose. It’s also an excellent deodoriser and odour neutraliser, so it can remove any strong oil smells that accompany a stain too.

To remove car oil stains from your clothes with baking soda, follow these steps:

  1. Stretch out your clothing on a flat surface.
  2. Sprinkle the stain with enough baking soda to completely cover it.
  3. Wait around 10 minutes before scraping off the baking soda.
  4. Wash the item on a warm wash (being sure to read care instructions before you do so).

If the stain hasn’t lifted, you can repeat this process again using a paste consisting of four parts baking soda and one part water. Work this paste into the stain using a clean brush (toothbrushes are ideal), leave to work for around 10 minutes, and then repeat the wash cycle

Additional tips for removing car oil stains from clothes

Along with the three methods above, here are some additional tips that should help you to successfully remove that 5W-30 from your favourite jeans.

  • Spot an oil stain? Act fast! The sooner you apply a pre-treatment to the stain, the easier it will be to remove, so down tools and treat the stain as a priority.
  • Don’t put the item in the same wash as other clothes items; wash it separately. Although this might seem wasteful, we’ve already touched on the fact that oil stains can pick up other dirt, so it’s best to clean stained items on their own. Remember that you can also wash clothes by hand if you don’t want to waste energy cleaning one T-shirt in the washing machine.
  • Always use warm water when removing car oil stains from clothes, as the heat can help to break down oil residue more effectively. It goes without saying that you should check the care instructions first, however.

So, there you have it, our complete, expert guide to removing car oil stains from your clothes – we really hope it helps! Looking for high-quality motor oil to use in your car? Check out our complete range of premium engine oils, compatible with hundreds of makes and models.