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How can I get vehicle oil out of jeans?

By Dr. Laundry January 2, 2016

Q: How can I get vehicle oil out of jeans?   A: Whether you call it vehicle oil or engine grease, it’s one of the most challenging stains to get out.  It is very helpful to start with a strong solubilizer/solvent that is appropriate for fabric.  There are a few different degreaser products you can try–Goo Gone and De-Solv-It are the two I am familiar with—that are typically available at hardware stores.  First you should check to make sure you can safely apply any product you want to try on your jeans with a quick colorfastness test: –Apply a drop to a hidden part of the jeans, like the denim facing inside the front pocket. –Wait one minute and then rinse and blot dry with a towel. –If there’s no color change then you should be able to safely use the product on the jeans.   Assuming the jeans pass, then you can try the following: –work on the jeans when the stained area is dry; that is, don’t rinse it first! –Apply the degreaser full-strength directly to the stain and rub it in, letting it sit for 3-5 minutes.  This helps solubilize the oil and jumpstarts stain removal. –Next apply a little liquid laundry detergent or liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind you use for hand washing dishes) and rub it into the stain; wait another 5 minutes. –Now wash the jeans using the correct amount (don’t underuse!) a good detergent in the hottest water recommended on the care label.  Definitely use the hottest water you can—the hotter the water the better the cleaning, especially for oily stain removal. –Finally, let the jeans air dry.  If any residual oil remains, you can repeat the treatment with a better chance of eventual success if the jeans have not been in a hot dryer.   I hope this is helpful—please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing.   –Dr. Laundry