If it has an engine and you need to work on it, it's going to get you greasy. Whether you're working on your car, truck, motorcycle, boat, or lawn mower, grease stains seem almost inevitable. Even if you're super careful or make sure to wear coveralls, it's easy to get grease stains on your clothes. Getting the grease out is a lot cheaper than replacing your clothes, and it's probably a lot easier than you think.
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What Not to Do
If you're frantically searching the web for ways to get car grease out of your favorite shirt, you'll encounter a lot of intriguing home remedies. Some of the more interesting alleged grease stain removers you will find include aloe vera gel, WD-40, hair spray, soda, and Cheez Whiz. Not only do these items fail to remove grease stains but they can also leave behind their own unique stains. Dish soap and laundry detergent aren't as much fun as Cheez Whiz, but they're far more likely to work.
How to Remove Grease From Work Clothes
Naturally, you wear old clothes when working on your car or attacking a similar project — you're not hitting the garage in your new silk shirt. If you've gotten grease on cotton, denim, or another everyday fabric, you can soak it up with an absorbent powder and then use detergent to remove the rest of the stain. Attack the stain as quickly as you can. The longer it sits on your clothes, the harder it can be to remove.
- Spread the clothing on a clean towel.
- Sprinkle an absorbent powder over the grease stain to soak it up. Any absorbent powder will work, so use what you have. Baking soda, talcum powder, and cornstarch will all work. None will remove the entire stain, but all can soak up a bit of the grease.
- Leave the powder to sit on the stain until it darkens, indicating that it has absorbed the grease. This can take about 10 minutes but may take longer with cornstarch.
- Brush the powder off the garment.
- Apply a pretreatment stain remover to the stain. For grease stains, aerosol stain removers work best. If you don't have a stain treatment, rub some dish soap into the stain before you wash it.
- Wash the clothing in the hottest water you safely can without shrinking it and allow the garment to air-dry. If any stain remains, repeat the process. Do not run the garment through the clothes dryer until the stain is completely gone, as doing so will set the stain.
How to Remove Grease From Delicate Clothes
Sometimes, cars break down at the most inconvenient times, which means you may have to do a quick fix by the side of the road. Because breakdowns are unexpected and unpredictable, you may find yourself elbow-deep in your engine while wearing silk, linen, or another delicate fabric. In this case, a visit to a professional dry cleaner may be best. If you wish, however, you can try hand washing the item to remove the stain yourself.
- Spread the garment on a clean towel and sprinkle the stain with an absorbent powder. Allow the powder to sit on the stain until it soaks up some of the grease. The powder will turn dark when it has absorbed what it can.
- Scrape away the powder residue and treat the stain with an aerosol stain remover. Read the directions for the stain remover and verify that it is safe to use on your fabric. If not, skip this step.
- Fill a clean sink with warm or cold water depending on the garment's requirements.
- Add a gentle hand washing detergent, like Woolite, to the water according to the package directions. Generally, you'll want about a cap of detergent for every 2 quarts of water.
- Soak the garment in the sink for about 20 minutes unless directed otherwise on the detergent label.
- Rinse the garment and squeeze out the excess water. Lay the garment on a dry towel and place another towel on top of it. Press down on the towel to absorb as much water as you can.
- Lay the garment on a fresh, dry towel to finish air-drying.