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Learn How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes - 7 Easy DIY Methods

Conrad Kühn
June 30, 2021

If you’ve been infected with the cycling bug like me, then I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of annoying bike grease problems. One of the most persistent forms of stains out there, bike grease can destroy your favorite piece of clothing with just a small prominent spot.

It’s quite easy to get a stain on your clothing during either maintenance on your bike, changing your tire, or adjusting your chain. Luckily, it’s also quite easy to remove grease stains if you follow our guide on how to get bike grease out of clothes.

Before we get into the details of removal, there are a few things to pay attention to:

Things To Keep In Mind

• The longer you leave the stain on your clothing, the harder it will be to remove it. The reason behind this no rocket science. The grease stains break down with time and settle deep in the fibers. Reaching between fiber isn’t easy. Always remember to remove the stain as soon as you notice it.

• Not all your clothes are made out of cotton, right? Different clothes are made of different materials and therefore require different cleaning techniques. Our list has several methods and I’ve made sure to mention which methods work best with different types of materials. The label on your garment will usually specify laundry instructions.

• If you have sensitive skin, make sure you wear gloves before trying any of the methods.

• Bike grease removers: these do work but they might destroy your favorite pair of jeans. These removers are quite strong. If you follow our guide, you can easily utilize stuff around your house to remove stains.

We’ve all heard of the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Therefore, let us take a look at how not to get grease stains on your clothes before we explore the steps on how to remove bicycle grease of clothing.

How To Avoid Grease Stains

Like I mentioned before, grease stains are inevitable during maintenance or even while riding sometimes. However, there are a few preventive measures.

• Regular cleaning: Make sure to always use a rag and clean grease off your bike and chain regularly

• Consider leg shields that protect your pants and socks from coming in contact with the bike chain.

• Chain guards: For our competitive cyclist out there, this might not be the best option as it adds weight.

Little boy fixing his bike in a park

How To Remove Grease Stains

METHOD 1: Using Dishwashing Liquid (Works Best for Cotton and Synthetic Materials)

This is usually considered the fastest way to remove grease stains from your clothes, and you can also easily find liquid soap at home.

This method works best if you notice the fresh stain and remove it quickly rather than letting it dry. If you are using this method to treat a dried out stain make sure to cover the stain with some cornflour or talcum powder and letting it absorb the grease stain for around 5 minutes before using dishwashing liquid to brush it off. 

STEP 1: Apply a small drop of liquid soap on the stain and leave it for some time. It can break down the stain, the same way it breaks down and removes oil from your utensils. Let the liquid lodge deep in the fabrics.

STEP 2: Using a cotton swab or preferably an old toothbrush gently rub into the stain. The stain will start to decolor.

STEP 3: With the stain facing downward, run cold water over the stain. This ensures that the water is running through the back and covers the entire grease stain.

STEP 4: If the stain is still visible, repeat steps 1 to 3.

STEP 5: Preferably handwash the garment to remove the excess detergent and residual grease. Air-dry the piece of clothing. NEVER tumble-dry a stained piece of cloth. The heat will melt even the tiniest residual and make it permanent.

METHOD 2: Using Baking Soda (Works Best with Delicate fabrics like silk and tough fabrics like jeans)

Baking soda is a miracle worker when it comes to stain removal due to its alkaline characteristics. This gentle natural stain remover foams in water and can penetrate deep into fibers to cut any type of stain without damaging the garment.

It works well with fresh and dried grease patches on both delicate and tough fabrics. However, the two types of fabrics require different techniques.

METHOD 2.1: Using Baking Soda on Sensitive Fabrics

STEP 1: Place the piece of clothing on a layer of toilet paper or something absorbent and scatter the greased patch with baking soda. This method involves a degree of patience as you need to leave the garment overnight with the baking soda to work on it.

STEP 2: The following morning you will notice that the baking soda has absorbed most of the grease. Using an old toothbrush rub over the stain gently.

STEP 3: Carefully wash the garment preferably by hand and air dry.

METHOD 2.2: Using Baking Soda on Tough Fabrics (Jeans)

STEP 1: Place the piece of clothing on a layer of toilet paper or something absorbent and cover the greased patch with a thick paste of baking soda and water. This process involves a level of patience just like method 2.1. Both these methods require the baking soda to be left overnight.

STEP 2: The following morning you will notice that the baking soda has dried out and returned to powdered form and also absorbed most of the grease. Using an old toothbrush gently remove the layer of dried of baking soda

STEP 3: Handwash the piece of clothing as usual and air dry.

Baking Soda for stain removal

METHOD 3: Using Bar Soap/Shampoo (Works best with light stains on delicate material)

Bar soap and shampoo are designed to get rid of body oils, therefore it does work on light and fresh grease stains. 

STEP 1: Slightly dampen the affected area with water and either rub the bar of soap or apply a layer of shampoo and let it sit for about 30 minutes. 

TIP: Sometimes rubbing the bar of soap with force might spread the stain. Instead, grate the bar of soap over the grease stain and use a toothbrush to foam. 

STEP 2: Make a mixture of water and vinegar with a 1:2 ratio and dip the affected area in it. Use a toothbrush and gently scrub off the shampoo/ soap.

STEP 3: Hand wash the garment with detergent and let it air dry. Remember to tumble dry.

METHOD 4: Using Biological Detergent (Works Best with synthetic material)

Biological detergents have special enzymes that assist in the breakdown of fat and grease off clothes.

They work best with synthetic fabrics such as spandex, nylon, or polyester. DO NOT USE THIS FOR SENSITIVE FABRICS SUCH AS SILK.

STEP 1: Apply a tiny amount of detergent directly to the affected area.

STEP 2: Using a piece of damp cotton wool, gently rub the underside of the affected area.

STEP 3: Keep it idle for a few minutes before brushing it off under cold water. Repeat the process if the stain hasn’t completely disappeared.

STEP 4: Wash the garment by hand, and air dry.

METHOD 5: Using Hot water & Spot Remover (Works best with non-sensitive material)

This method is reserved for the toughest grease stains you can imagine. Spot remover is quite strong and should only be used with nonsensitive fabrics. It also contains toxic ingredients so handle with care and store away from children. 

STEP 1: Spray the remover directly over the affected area and using a toothbrush, gently rub in a circular motion.

STEP 2: Let the remover work for a few minutes, while the water boils.

STEP 3: Place the garment in a washbasin or a bucket that can handle boiling water. Pour the boiling water directly onto the grease stain from a distance to properly break down the stain.

Handle boiling water with care and stand at a safe distance to avoid hot water splattering onto you.

STEP 4: Repeat the process but this time, turn the garment inside out.

STEP 5: Handwash the garment and air dry it.

METHOD 6: Using Thinner (Works best with non-sensitive material)

If thinner can be used to remove paint stains and clean paintbrushes, it definitely can be used to remove stubborn grease stains.

STEP 1: Using a pair of gloves fill a glass bowl with a bit of thinner and dip the affected spot into the bowl.

STEP 2: Use an old toothbrush and rub off the grease stain.

STEP 3: Air dry the garment so that the remaining turpentine evaporates.

STEP 4: Wash your piece of clothing preferably by hand with some soapy water.

METHOD 7: Using Other Natural Ingredients

Using toxic chemicals are effective but also pretty dangerous to handle. If you are all about making an impact and being conscious about the environment, consider natural cleaning alternatives. They get the job done without too many limitations.

Look for citrus or water-based natural grease removal products. If you don’t trust labels and want to guarantee the quality of components by making them yourself, below are some natural cleaning agents you can try: 

• Lemon and Vinegar
My wife swears by this mix. She claims it can remove any stain. The acidic nature of both ingredients combined makes a powerful mixture that cuts through grease. However, this powerful mix can also damage fabrics.

• Soap based on Vegetable Oils
Oil is hydrophobic and is perfect to make soap.

Mild soap made from organic vegetable oils such as castor oil is great to remove grease stains.

Organic coconut oil also makes a great base for soap. Coconut oil base soap also can be used to cut through stains. 

Follow the same steps as Method 3

• Borax
Even though it is considered a natural ingredient, Borax is quite lethal and should be handle with care. It is like the stronger older brother of baking soda. It is more corrosive and dissolves in water. 

Works best with heavy grease stains and tough materials. 

• Baking Soda
Even though we discussed this under Method 2, it is worth mentioning baking soda again. 

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, it is much less corrosive and toxic than borax and is an excellent stain remover. Borax can be too strong and lead to discoloring of fabrics.

Apart from removing stains, baking soda can also remove odor.

Cycling might be a permanent part of your life, but stains needn’t be. 

It doesn’t make sense to throw away your favorite pair of jeans just because it has an ugly grease stain. Just follow our easy guide and make your mama, wife, or yourself proud.

Just pay close attention to the type of fabric before picking which method to use.

Conrad Kühn
About the Author
Cycling Enthusiast / Mechanical Engineer | Hailing from Germany, where the first bike was invented is no coincidence. The cycling bug hit Conrad when he was really young, and he has been sick for quite some time now. Germany is a leading cycling nation. His first cycling experience began with him commuting to school with his friends. Racing to school was the best feeling ever. As Conrad grew up so did his passion for cycling. He used to race in local competitions but never made it to the professional level because of his other love: Engineering. As a mechanical engineer by profession, Conrad loves to understand the mechanisms behind machines and how they work. This intensified his passion for bicycles. Engineer by day and blogger by night, Conrad wants to share his knowledge with the global cycling community.
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