A hand placing a white shirt with an engine oil stain into a washing machine. The image illustrates the beginning steps of treating oil stains on clothing.
Stain Removal, Laundry How To

How To Get Engine Oil Out Of Clothes: 7 Simple Methods

Engine oil is one of the hardest stains to deal with. It can leave dark, viscous marks on your clothes that become permanent if you don’t treat it correctly.

The good news is that there’s a simple way to remedy engine grease splatters.

In this article, you’ll learn how to get engine oil out of clothes like a pro. 

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Understanding Engine Oil Stains

Motor oil stains are some of the most stubborn stains you’ll find – much more stubborn than other kinds of oil stains. This is because of their composition.

Manufacturers create this oil to withstand the heat and friction of car engines. Sadly, the properties that make engine oil ideal for cars can also make them a nightmare to remove.

Engine oil is viscous and hydrophobic. This means it can get stuck between fabric fibers, and you can’t wash it off with cold water.

What’s more, engine oil has complex additives that can cling to synthetic fibers. You must take a more targeted approach to cleaning an engine oil-stained garment!

How to Get Engine Oil out of Clothes

Here are simple steps to remove these tough stains from your clothes!

1. Use an Absorbent Powder

First, if you have a fresh grease stain, don’t get it wet. Wetting a fresh stain can further spread it around the clothing item.

Instead, apply baby powder or cornstarch on the entire stain. Let the powder sit on garment for up to 20 minutes. After, blot the affected area with a dry cloth.

This additional step helps because cornstarch is a porous material. It can absorb dark stains from engine oil without spreading it!

2. Apply Paper Towels

Try the paper towel method for tougher grease on clothes.

Place the stain facedown on a dry paper towel, then apply cleaning fluid to the back of the stain. The fluid should push the engine oil out of your clothes and into the clean paper towel.

Don’t be afraid to repeat the process, replacing the paper as you do. Eventually, you’ll remove all of the patchy oil stains!

3. Zero In With Detergent

Once you remove most of the excess oil, it’s time to treat it with detergent. Massage a liquid detergent, booster, or stain remover into the stained area.

Let this detergent sit on the stain, then dab it away with a clean cloth. Keep repeating this process until you’re satisfied with the result.

4. Make Baking Soda Paste

Another great trick is to make a paste with baking soda. Baking soda is a basic compound that reacts with acidic stains. As a result of this reaction, the stain loosens up, making it easier to remove.

To start, combine three parts baking soda and one part of cold water.

Spread this cleaning solution over the oil stain, then allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Gently brush the baking soda away with an old toothbrush before throwing the garment into your washing machine.

Note that you should only use baking soda on polyester or cotton. Avoid this method if the stain is on delicate fabric like wool or silk!

5. Try Dish Soap Treatment

For those who have dried oil stains on their clothes, start the cleaning process with a liquid.

Pour a blob of dish soap onto the affected area, then let it sit for at least ten minutes. The dish soap cuts through the dried oil and makes the stain easier to wash out.

Wash the soap with warm water and repeat the process if necessary.

6. Invest in a Laundry Degreaser

A laundry degreaser is a concentrated stain treatment for removing common oil stains. All you have to do is dissolve it in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then spray it on the greasy patch.

The degreaser should dissolve the engine oil, and you can wash it out with no issues.

7. Make Time for a Hot Water Soak

Before tossing the clothing item into the washing machine, soak it in hot water. Hot water can loosen oil by melting it. On top of this, the water should allow the engine oil to float to the surface.

Start by filling a tub with hot water and detergent. Let the affected clothes sit in it for at least 30 minutes, then pour the water out.

Don’t forget to check the care instructions on the garment to see its maximum water temperature. Doing so will save you from ruining your favorite clothes!

Tips for Removing Engine Oil From Clothes

Here are a few essential tips for removing oily stains from clothing items.

  • Don’t Wait Too Long: The longer you wait to remove the stain, the harder it’ll be to take it out. Start the oil stain removal process as soon as possible.
  • Avoid Drying the Garment: Don’t air-dry the fabric until you’ve removed the stain. Keep trying with various stain-removal methods until you’re satisfied with the result.
  • Machine Wash With Hot Water: Engine oil comes out more readily the hotter your water is. Because of this, you should machine wash the garment in the hottest setting.
  • Pick Cotton Fabrics: Fabric type can affect the difficulty of removing a stain. If you’re working with cars, it’s best to wear cotton fabrics instead of synthetic fibers.
  • Seek Professional Help: If all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek professionals. Take the stained garment to a laundry expert and have them remove the stain for you!


How Do You Remove Dried Engine Oil From Clothes?

To remove dried, set-in oil stains, pour liquid dish soap or laundry detergent on the dry fabric. Let the stain remover work its magic, then dab the liquid with paper towels.

Keep repeating the process, and let the garment soak in warm water afterward. Finally, wash the clothing item in a washing machine according to the instructions on the fabric label.

What Removes Engine Oil From Clothes?

Cornstarch, baby powder, and baking soda can absorb engine oil residues from clothes. After soaking the oil with these powders, carefully brush them off.

Next, further remove the stain using liquid soap, detergent, degreaser, or stain remover. Press this stain onto disposable paper towels.

Lastly, soak the garment in hot water to melt the engine oil away from your clothes.


Engine oil is one of the most difficult stains because of its extra additives and viscosity. Because of this, it’s best to combine the stain removal techniques we mentioned.

The differences in fabrics mean there’s no one foolproof treatment for everything. You’ll have to try using absorbent powders, dish soap, degreasers, and baking soda.

Don’t worry. You can save your favorite clothes once you find the right techniques.

We hope you found our guide on how to get engine oil out of clothes useful. Let us know if you successfully removed the stain!


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