How to get Mechanic Grease out of Clothes

How to get Mechanic Grease out of Clothes?

Mechanics grease?  What is it and why would it be in someone’s clothes?  Once you know the answers to these two questions, let’s find out how to get it out of clothes to make the clothes look clean and grease-free.

What is Mechanic Grease

Generally speaking, this is the grease that most mechanics get on themselves and their clothes from working on the mechanical parts of different vehicles.  Basically, it is a heavy oil that is mixed with enough soap to make it clingy and stringy so that it remains in place where you put it, such as on bearings.

Types of Stains

Minor:  With these types of mechanic grease stains, all you need to do is put the clothes in the washer with Lestoil, which is a heavy-duty multi-purpose cleanser. It is a registered trade name of Clorox.  

Medium:  Put some dish soap, like Dawn, or Lestoil on the spot.  Use a toothbrush or other light brush to rub the area, making sure that what you put on it is deep into the stain.  You need to leave it to soak into the spot overnight and then wash the next day.

Heavy-duty:  The first thing to do is put Lestoil cleaner on the spot and rub it in.  Once this is done you need to put it in a long soak overnight in water and then wash it the next day.  Make sure that all the Lestoil cleaner is out of the material.

Things to use to get Mechanic Grease out of Clothes

Soda pop: Put the oily, greasy work clothes in a bucket or tub.  Add two to four liters of soda pop, like Coca-Cola.  Finishing filling the container with water until you have covered the clothes.

Let them soak overnight and wash them in the morning using regular laundry soap.  If they are not too greasy, you could put them in the washer and add a can of soda into the water with your regular detergent instead of presoaking.  Wash them on regular cycle.

Liquid dishwashing detergent:  As most people know, one of the best dishwashing detergents to use is Dawn.  In general, dishwashing detergent has been formulated to cut through grease that is found on dishes so why not your clothes.  Use it to soak the clothes, as a pre-treat for spots, or a combination of both.  If you are using it to pre-treat mechanic grease spots, let it sit for five to fifteen minutes before you wash them in hot water.  

Pine-Sol or Lestoil: You can use either one for pre-treating mechanic grease spots.  After washing clothes that have been pre-treated with these, they should be allowed to air dry instead of in the dryer

Fels-Naptha:  This is a heavy-duty laundry bar soap that is designed to treat grease and oil stains before you wash the clothes.  Wet the stain and rub it with the bar of soap.  Use an old toothbrush to scrub the soap into the spot.  Wash as usual.

Cornstarch:  This is great to use on stains that have set in.  Lay the garment out flat and put cornstarch on top of the stain.  Leave it on for about an hour, dry so do not add water.  Brush it off and remove with a damp rag any residue.

If there still is a trace of the stain, you can use a liquid dish detergent to rub it into the spot. Let it sit for at least ten minutes and then wash as usual.

Baby powder:  Put a small amount of baby powder on the mechanic grease stain, if it is a fresh stain.  Leave the powder to soak in for 10-15 minutes and then brush it off. If you can just barely see the mechanic grease stain, you can toss it in the washer and wash using cold water instead of hot.

Chalk: Chalk will absorb the grease because it is a fine powder.  Rub the chalk over the stain and let sit up to 15 minutes and rub it off.  Repeat if the stain is still visible but if not, throw it in the wash.

Salt and alcohol mixture:  This is good for stains on thicker fabrics like denim.  Mix three parts rubbing alcohol with one part salt and pour onto mechanic grease stain.  Run it into the stain using a soft cloth.  Let it soak for up to 15 minutes and then wash it as you normally would.

Dry cleaning solvent: Some of these are specially designed for cleaning up grease stains, such as mechanic grease.  They are generally iron-on or spray-on liquids that are applied to the stain.

Since they are dry cleaning grade, the stains should almost immediately work themselves out.  Then you can wash them as you normally would.

Hairspray:  This is good to use on set in mechanic grease stains.  Spray the spot heavily with hairspray using a paper towel between the spray and the fabric.  Let soak for thirty minutes and then wash and air dry.

General Cleaning Tips

  • Always pre-treat, pre-soak, or a combination of both to clothes with mechanic grease.  Never just toss them in the washer to be washed.
  • Check the labels of the clothes first but if possible, wash them in hot water on the longest wash you can.
  • Before pre-treating, try to blot dry as much of the mechanic grease as you can out of the clothes with an absorbent paper towel.  Keep blotting, using clean paper towels until you get no more mechanic grease on the paper towel.
  • For pre-treating, you can use solvents like the ones mentioned above or Murphy’s Oil Soap, or Odorless Mineral Spirits.
  • When using a brush to work the solvent in, use a soft brush, and keep brushing it in until the stain starts to disappear.  Do this over an absorbent paper towel so it will catch the oil as it is worked out of the cloth.
  • After washing, do an extra rinse
  • Make a diluted solution of Lestoil and keep it in a spray bottle so if you see a spot of mechanic grease, you can spray the spot.  

Cleaning the Washer After Washing Clothes With Mechanic Grease

The first thing to do after washing clothes with mechanic grease is to use the small or medium load cycle and hot water.  Add a cup of bleach to the water and run the washer with an extra rinse.  This will get any mechanic grease residue out of the washer.  Depending on how greasy the clothes were, you may have to run the cycle again.


To help protect the other clothes, it is advisable that you wash any clothes with mechanic grease on them separately from other clothes.  Not all mechanic grease stains will come out of clothes but there is a better chance of them coming out if you start degreasing immediately.

As soon as you notice a grease stain, treat it if possible.  The longer you leave the mechanic grease on the clothes, the harder it will be to get it out.  For those that do work around mechanic’s grease, you should have some coveralls or other clothing that does not matter if you get mechanics grease on them.

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