How to Remove Engine Oil Stains from Clothes

How to Remove Engine Oil Stains from Clothes

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It can happen to absolutely anyone and if you’ve ever had an oil accident, you’ll want to know how to remove engine oil stains from clothes .

Whether you’re checking your oil levels before heading out on a long road trip with friends and family (which is highly recommended), or it’s part of your daily trade. Having engine oil come into contact with clothes is far more common than you might think.

Engine oil removers

As soon as you notice the stain, you should gently scrape, blot and soak whatever item of clothing it is in hot water. This will allow the fabric to expand, breathe and move about.

The fabric will begin expelling as much of the oil stain as it can naturally while you can fumble the pieces together for an at-home remedy to remove engine oil stains from clothes.


If you’re a little stuck for where to begin (like many of us are), check out these 7 methods to get motor oil out of clothes with ingredients you may or may not already have lying around your home.


Aloe Vera

Whether it’s using a formulated gel, a scrub or straight from the leaves, aloe vera is a perfectly safe and natural ingredient to tackle the task to remove engine oil stains from clothes.

As well as this, it doesn’t leave any harsh chemical residue that needs to be removed with a washing load. 

To use, you should take your pre-soaked item of clothing and begin to rub the aloe vera directly onto the stain. Go around in circles both metaphorically and literally and you’ll have (eventually) removed the stain. When you’re done, you can rinse the remaining aloe vera gel out of the clothing with some warm water and hang to dry. A positive for using aloe vera to get motor oil out of clothes is the nice smell it leaves behind!


Made by removing all the bran and outer germ from corn kernels, cornstarch is a rich endosperm that loves to absorb since it is such a dry powder. From absorbing scents and smells in the air to thickening stews, it has so many at-home uses. Including – you guessed it – helping to remove engine oil stains from clothes.

Simply lie your item of clothing flat and sprinkle a generous amount of cornstarch over your motor oil stain making sure the stain is fully covered. Leave the cornstarch for a around 15 minutes before adding a few drops of water and using a toothbrush to mix into a paste while gently agitating the fibres. When the stain is visibly lifting, you can throw your clothes into the machine for the typical wash.

engine oil on clothes

Dish Soap

Dish soap has the daily job of de-greasing our dishes of the oils we eat and cook with that other soaps and detergents simply don’t have the capacity to handle. So, when it comes to remove engine oil stains from clothes, a go-to choice is often dish soap. 

What you should do is lay your clothes flat and place cardboard directly underneath the stain. Squeeze out a small amount of dish soap onto the stain, gently rub and then let it sit for five minutes. Finally, bung it into the washing machine with your normal load and wash according to the label! 

Mechanics Soap

Mechanics soap is a pretty general and hard-wearing bar of good ol’ grease remover. If you’re a mechanic, you probably see it everywhere as part of the daily grind. However, if you’re not a mechanic, you probably still have a bar sat on the sink in the guest bathroom never being used.

While this soap is generally used to clean oil and stains off the skin, it is also fantastic at tackling the motor oil on your clothes. This is because it is made with a grease cutter such as orange oil; just grab your bar, lather under the tap and get scrubbing. 

Make sure your item of clothing is laid flat and has a layer of cardboard under the stain. When you’ve scrubbed a little, leave the soap to dry on the stain and then wash according to the label.


Nail Varnish Remover

This one is a little hit-and-miss. Simply because of the percentage level the nail varnish remover has of acetone. Acetone is the ingredient we’re really looking for to get motor oil out of clothes. However, a small percentage simply won’t do the job and a high percentage risks damaging the fibres of the clothes. 

It is an organic solvent that works by bonding with the oil molecules for easier stain removal. So, to do this, you’ll want to take a cotton bud, soak in the nail varnish remover and dab onto the surface in a gentle motion to not harm delicate materials. The weaker the acetone percentage, the longer you’ll need to work on the stain. But, once you’re happy, you can bung it into the washing machine.



More strictly speaking, it’s the Gold Oxi Advance type of Vanish you’ll want to get your hands on. While it’s not something you’d typically see lying around the house to the same extent as the other method ingredients for how to remove engine oil stains from clothes in this list (nor is it as cheap), it certainly packs a punch.

According to Vanish, themselves, to see the benefits of how to remove engine oil stains from clothes with their Gold Oxi Advance, add 60ml to 4L of water. If your clothes are coloured, you should leave to soak for an hour. If they’re white, leave to soak for around 5-6 hours. Finally, place the item of clothing in the wash with a further 60ml of the detergent and you are oil stain-free!


Last on the list is the mystical powers of WD-40. Designed only to make movable parts move like they did when they were younger, it has since been found to deal with other issues like crayon artwork on the walls or gunk on the car. 

And, it has a time to shine again.

Much like the acetone in nail varnish remover, it is a residue solvent with the ability to bond with oil molecules. And, again like the acetone, it can be hit-and-miss when it comes to potentially doing damage to your clothes. So, it’s another one to whip out the cotton buds on! 

Simply grab a teaspoon of WD-40, apply to your clothes with the cotton bud and leave for a few hours. Finally, rub normal detergent into the area and bung into the wash.

While you’re going with your at-home remedy to remove engine oil stains from clothes, just know that it’s hard and can take time. Here at Laundry life, we come across our fair share of questions about how to get motor oil out of clothes and, because it’s typically a dark, thick and sticky consistency, it can get many worried. 

But persistence is key!

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