Bike grease is a common problem for cyclists. It can get anywhere on your clothes without you even realizing it.
The good news is that there are several ways to remove this pesky substance from clothing and other surfaces.
I’ve compiled the best methods you can use to clean your bike grease off any of your clothes regardless of the material. Each method has its pros and cons, so be sure to read through them all before deciding which one works best for you!
Removing bike oil stains from clothes is not easy, but it can be done – with a little patience, so keep this in mind while you go through the process of cleaning your clothes.
How to get Bike Grease out of Clothes?
Leaving grease residue on your clothes for a long time will make them more difficult to wash away. So if you have a grease stain on your clothes, one of the first things you should do is start treating it right away if possible. Here are the top items I’ve found that work the best for removing grease stains:
- Laundry Detergent
- Dishwashing Liquid
- Shampoo/Bar Soap
- Vinegar & Baking Soda
- Spot Remover & Hot Water
Before we jump into the steps to remove, you first have to understand how grease stains work:
Why do grease stains stick on clothes?
Grease stains are like the herpes of clothes. They’re highly contagious(spread easily if you accidentally touch or rub) and completely impossible to get rid of without proper treatment that’s hard to come by in public settings. You’ll also have difficulty getting grease out if you don’t catch it right away, as the oils seep deep into fibers where they can hang on for days or even weeks.
Yes, you read that right…
Some grease stains can last a long time and may even be impossible to eliminate no matter what method you use.
The reason it’s so hard to remove is that grease is a type of lubricant that is designed to help keep things moving for longer. Bike lube is usually made from a mixture of emulsified soap and oils. These are thicker than water-based lubricants like WD-40, making them good for keeping your bike well-lubricated longer.
Since bike lube(grease) creates a water-resistant protective barrier and its molecules are made up of chains. When these chains come into contact with fabric, they tend to bind tightly together, making it difficult for soap or other cleaning products to break them down.
That’s why no matter how much you try just washing the garment, you’ll see no changes. In fact, you might even make it worse!
To stop the grease from repelling your cleaning agent, you need to find a solution that neutralizes it. But this isn’t easy, and it might not work for all types of grease because it depends on chemistry.
And since I can’t tell which bike grease you accidentally got on your clothes, I can’t make a general recommendation on which process will work best. So the best thing to do is to go through each one until you get rid of the bike grease stain from your clothes.
But let’s start with my favorite and one that almost always gives me the best result!
A Word of Caution:
You never want to wash your clothes with grease in them with others in the same load. Always try to get rid of the grease or as much of it as before.
Using WD40 and Baking Soda – The Best Method
Yep, you read that right…
WD40 is a great way to remove bike grease from clothes and possibly the best.
The WD40 will break down the layers allowing you to get it out much easier. I also found that using WD-40 is a great way to get rid of grease stains that have started drying. So I always use this method first whenever I need to remove bike grease since it’s a good starting point whether the grease is new or old.
Here’s the method of using WD-40 and Baking Soda to Remove Oil Stains:
Step 1: Place the garment on top of a flat surface with a piece of cardboard or plastic underneath.
Step 2: Spray WD-40 on the exact spot where you need to remove the bike grease stain. Step3: Immediately after spraying WD-40 onto the bike grease stain, apply a generous amount of baking soda.
Step 4: Use a toothbrush to rub the baking soda into the oil. Do it for at least 3 minutes and in a circular motion. Keep rubbing until the baking soda has pulled all of the oil. (So, at any point of the stain, brush like you are pulling the stain to the center.)
Step 5: Shake off the excess baking soda to assess if it has pulled the oil from the affected bike grease stain. If not, do Steps 3-5 once more.
Step 6: Pour Dishwashing liquid onto the spot (without water) and use the toothbrush to scrub it for 5-10 minutes.
Step 7: Rinse the garment and allow it to dry.
Tip: When washing clothes with bike grease spots on them, make sure they are washed separately before being washed together with other clothes to avoid spreading the stain onto other clothing items. This will save you time later!
If this doesn’t work on the first try, I highly recommend doing the entire process again, as in all cases I’ve encountered so far, it works within two tries. If not, move on to the next method.
Using Laundry Detergent
You can easily get rid of bike grease stains from your clothes using laundry detergent.
All you need to do is make a small amount of the liquid soap sudsy with water and rub it on the stained area. Allow the mixture to sit for about five minutes, then use a brush to scrub the affected area. Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse off any residue with cold water twice or until no more bubbles come up after rinsing.
Once you’ve washed the grease stain out, you can go ahead and put the garment in the machine on your regular wash settings.
Tip: This method works best when you immediately catch the stain and for synthetic materials.
Using Dishwashing Liquid
Using dishwashing liquid is a good way to remove bike grease stains. I’ve found that I get the best results using dishwashing liquid when used on cotton or synthetic clothes.
Step 1: Apply Dishwashing Liquid – Put a little dishwashing soap on the bike grease stain.
You might not be aware or haven’t thought about it, but the same dishwashing soap that cleans grease off your pots and plates will also clean grease off your clothes.
Step 2: Scrub the Stain – If you have very stubborn grease stains, try making a thick paste with dishwashing liquid (liquid soap) and baking soda. If you have an old toothbrush, use it to apply the paste to the stain. Scrub the stain using an inward motion.
Step 3: Rinse with cold water – Let the fabric sit for two minutes, then place it under a cold water tap with the affected side facing down. You’ll want to make sure you follow this step exactly as it ensures that the grease is washed out and not through the garment.
Step 4: Machine Wash After Following Steps 1-3 –
Machine wash the clothes on a delicate cycle, at about 30°C, and use liquid detergent. Use washing powder if you don’t have liquid soap. Do not add any bleach or fabric softener to your load of laundry, as this will set the grease stains in place rather than remove them.
TIP: I found that using dishwashing liquid without anything else is a good way to get some bike grease stains out of clothes. But sometimes, you won’t be able to get all the stains out and still have some left on your clothing. That’s when you need to add baking soda for more power.
Using Vinegar & Baking Soda?
Baking powder is a really good way to get grease and oil stains out of clothes you don’t want to ruin. It works on delicate fabrics.
Vinegar and Baking Soda combined will act as a bomb and destroy all the bonds in the spot to remove the grease stain much easier.
Step 1: Apply Baking Soda – Mix a small amount of baking powder with water and rub it onto the stain using a toothbrush.
Step 2: Let the baking soda sit for 10 minutes – Allowing the baking soda to sit after brushing it in will allow more time for it to absorb the grease.
Step 3: Pour a moderate amount of vinegar onto the baking soda -This will cause a chemical reaction with the baking soda and allow it to destroy the grease stain.
Step 4: Rinse from behind the stain – Run the affected area under cold water from the back, so it pushes the stain out.
Step 5: Apply Dishwashing Liquid to the stain and Scrub – You’ll want to scrub the stain for at least 5 minutes to get rid of the spot.
Step 6: Rinse & Wash – Once you’ve finished all the previous steps, you can now wash the garment as you would normally then allow it to dry. Check for the stain once it has dried and repeat steps if necessary.
Using Spot Remover & Hot Water to Remove Bike Grease Stains
You should only use this method on cotton fabric, preferably white or light-colored garments. It isn’t the best method of the bunch, but it works for light bicycle grease stain removal.
Step 1: Spray the Affected Area with the Spot Remover.
Step 2: Set a pot of water to a boil.
Step 3: While the water is heating up, use a toothbrush and scrub the stain for at least 5 minutes or until clean.
Step 4: Pour the boiling water onto the affected area from behind to wash the stain out. I recommend doing this step over the sink, so the water flows through the affected area instead of settling.
Step 5: Repeat Steps 1-4 if the stain remains.
Step 6: Wash the garment using your normal machine wash.
Using Shampoo/Bar Soap to Remove Bike Grease Stains
Using Shampoo or a Bar Soap is pretty straightforward and should be something you can opt to use in case of light stains. This method should be used just like a first aid method and won’t always give the best results.
Step 1: Apply Shampoo or Rub the Bar Soap on the Stain – This will allow for better cleaning later on, as soap is a good natural cleaner that destroys oil molecules.
Step 2: Start rubbing back and forth or up and down to help break apart your grease spots. The friction between clothing fibers should now be taking care of most of your issues, combined with some chemical reaction from the shampoo in this step.
Step 3: Rinse from Behind the Stain – Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed out any excess suds, you can then proceed to washing the entire garment by hand or putting them through an automatic wash cycle at home (depending on how much time you want to spend).
What are the Best Natural Solutions to Removing Grease Stains?
Sometimes you can clean grease stains even without using harmful chemicals. It’s important to care for the environment so you can practice environmentally-friendly habits, such as using organic cleaning alternatives. As such, I highly recommend using natural grease removal products to clean your bike grease stains. The natural solutions that work best are almost always cheaper alternatives, so there’s no reason not to try using them first.
Below are some of the best natural items that I’ve tried and seen some success using to remove bike grease stains:
Use Organic Oil-based Soap
To clean grease from clothes, apply liquid plant-based soap with mild, organic extracts.
Lemon and Vinegar
Lemon and vinegar are great low-cost natural approaches that can be used. Vinegar and Lemon both have acids in them. The acids in these can damage the bonds that cause grease to stick to clothes. Mix the vinegar or Lemon juice together and apply it to the stain. Then rinse through and scrub using a toothbrush and organic soap.
Baking soda, a common household cleaner found in most supermarkets, can help eradicate grease stains from clothes. The treatment works because it naturally sucks in all of the grease and any other smells left on clothing, becoming a preventive measure against future stains. Use a mixture of baking soda and natural soap to scrub the grease spot until it dries, then rinse.
The Bottom Line
Having a greasy stain on your clothes from the day’s biking adventures can be frustrating. Luckily, using one of these methods can get that grease out of your clothing and make it look as good as new again! There are many ways to tackle grease, and we hope you find one that works for you!
The most effective method from my experience is using WD-40 and baking soda as the main ingredients with some form of detergent like dish soap mixed in. You can also try any other methods if this doesn’t work for you – vinegar, lemon juice, shampoo and rubbing alcohol (in moderation), bar soap, or laundry detergent (again with caution).
If all else fails, there’s always the natural route which includes soaking items in white vinegar overnight then rinsing them out, followed by washing them in cold water with liquid castile soap.