More and more people are now taking to cycling as a way to get around in an effort to maintain social distancing protocols that have become a way of life. As you start to handle a bike regularly you will end up with grease stains on your clothes. During regular maintenance, like cleaning your bike, shortening the chain, or removing bike chain rust from the chain, you will come in contact with grease. You’ll want to know how to get grease out of clothes fast and conveniently.
The good news is, if you get a grease stain on your favorite pants, top or shirt, even shoes, you don’t have to throw it away. There are several recommended methods for how to remove bicycle grease from clothing. It’s not easy, but it can be done at home with common cleaning products and little expense.
Before I get into the post, let me point out that there’s one thing you MUST NOT do to get bike grease out of clothes: don’t toss a grease-stained garment into the wash. The hot water melts the grease into the fibers and locks it in, and your favorite garment will be ruined forever.
What You Need to Know About Bike Grease Stain Removal
Before we get into the different methods for removing bike grease from clothes, there are a few things to keep in mind:–
- The longer a grease stain stays on a garment, the harder it is to get rid of. The elements of the grease break down and lodge in the fibers, and reaching between them is not easy. You should remove grease stains as soon as you notice them on your clothes before they settle deeper.
- Different garments come with different cleaning instructions. A top or shirt made of silk, for example, requires a different cleaning method from one made of cotton. Make sure that the method of cleaning you use will not destroy the item of clothing. The label will usually tell you what you need to know, but if you are still not sure you can check online. To make sure that the detergent you are using is safe you can test it on a corner of the garment.
- If you have to use harsh detergents that you have never used before make sure to wear gloves to avoid damaging your hands.
- You can successfully get rid of bike grease stains using cheap ingredients that are already in your kitchen.
I’ve mentioned that different garments require different detergents and cleaning methods. Because there are so many different types of fabrics out there, it’s impossible to cover the different cleaning methods here. Instead, I’ll talk about how to remove bike grease out of clothes for common fabrics.
If your garment is made of an unusual or special fabric it may be worthwhile to take it to a professional cleaner.
How to Get Bike Grease Out of Clothes
1). How to Remove Grease Stains Using Dishwashing Liquid
This is by far the easiest and fastest way to remove grease stains from clothes, and every kitchen has dishwashing liquid. If you get to the stain quickly, dishwashing liquid usually works. However, if you let it set you may not get the best results.
Dishwashing liquid works because of its ability to break down grease. It will disperse it on clothes the same way it does on greasy kitchen utensils.
Step 1: Apply undiluted dishwashing liquid directly on the grease stain and let it sit for a few minutes. If the stain is very dark, you can try dishwashing paste, as it’s thicker and stronger. To make sure that it gets right into the fibers you can rub it in gently using a cotton swab. For tougher fabrics like denim, use a soft toothbrush.
Step 2: The stain will start to lighten after a few minutes. When this happens hold it under cool, running water, with the stained part of the garment-facing downwards, and scrub gently. This should eliminate the stain. Make sure to get the edges – sometimes as a stain dissolves it moves outwards in rings.
Step 3: If you can still see the stain repeat the process. I usually repeat anyway just to make sure that I’ve got it.
Step 4: Wash the entire garment the way you would normally wash it. You do this to get rid of residual detergent and grease.
Caution: Do not tumble-dry a garment that has a grease stain. Even after cleaning, there are residual molecules of grease left in the fibers and they will melt and set, staining the garment all over again. Instead, hang the garment out to air dry.
2). How to Remove Grease Stains Using Baking Soda
Baking soda works to remove bike grease stains for several reasons. Its alkaline nature allows it to cut all types of grease, and because it effervesces in water, it can get at grease that’s stuck between fibers. It’s also gentle, so it will not damage fabrics and is gentle on your hands.
You can use baking soda for delicate and tough fabrics, but they require different methods.
a). Using Baking Soda for Grease on Delicate Fabrics (Like Silk)
Step 1: Lay the garment on a flat surface with something absorbent underneath, and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the stain. Leave it to work on the stain overnight, or for several hours.
Step 2: Brush it off using a soft brush. You’ll notice that it has absorbed most of the grease, and only a light discoloration remains.
Step 3: Launder your garment according to the label instructions. The remaining discoloration will go away. Air dry your garment, and it should be good to go.
b) Using Baking Soda for Grease on Tough Fabrics (Like Denim)
Step 1: Make a thick paste using a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and water. Lay the garment on a flat surface and apply the paste to the stain. An absorbent tissue directly beneath the stain will ensure that you don’t transfer it to the surface you’ve laid the garment on.
Step 2: Leave the paste on the garment overnight or for several hours. It dries out and goes back to powder form. Remove the layer of baking soda using a soft brush.
Step 3: Launder the garment as recommended and let it air dry.
3). How to Remove Grease Stains Using Biological Laundry Detergent
Biological laundry detergent works best for synthetic fabrics. These include nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex. This kind of washing powder is not recommended for delicate fabrics like silk, lace and chiffon.
You can find biological laundry cleaning detergent on Amazon. Some of the best brands are Distinctive Superior Washing Powder and Persil Biological Laundry Powder, and Ariel Biological Laundry Detergent.
Step 1: Lay the garment out on a flat surface. Next, pre-treat the garment by applying a small amount of the biological washing powder directly to the stain.
Step 2: Dip a cotton swab in cool water and rub it on the underside of the garment, directly below the stain. Different detergents may have different care instructions, so make sure to read your laundry packet carefully.
Step 3: Let the detergent sit for a few minutes and then run cool water on the stain. You’ll see the grease stain slowly disappear. If some traces remain, repeat the process.
Step 4: Wash the garment as you usually do and let it air dry.
4). How to Get Grease Stains Out with Shampoo
Your shampoo can do a great job of removing a bike grease stain, but you have to get to it right away. It works well for light stains on delicate fabrics. You’ll not have much success with shampoo for deep bike grease stains on jeans or cotton garments.
Step 1: Apply a layer of your favorite de-greasing shampoo on the stain and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
Step 2: Scrubbing gently, rinse with running, cool water, and let the garment dry naturally.
5). How to Get Grease Stains Out with Bar Soap
Bar soap also works great, but make sure that it isn’t abrasive as it will damage the fabric.
Step 1: Get a bit of warm water on the stain and the surrounding area and then rub the bar of soap on it.
Step 2: Let it sit for a few minutes so that it can break down the grease. Using a soft toothbrush, brush the stain away.
Step 3: Rinse thoroughly under cool, running water and make sure to get all the bar soap out – it tends to get stuck in fabric fibers.
Step 4: Launder the garment according to instructions and then let it air-dry.
6). Grease Removal Using Spot Remover and Hot Water
Stain remover spray is reserved for the stubbornest grease stains and should only be used on non-delicate fabrics.
Carbona Stain Devils is recommended for oil and fat stains, but it also works well for bike grease stains.
Step 1: Spray the spot remover on the stained area, making sure that the garment is laid out on a flat surface.
Step 2: After the whole stain is covered in spot remover, rub it gently using a soft toothbrush. Use small, round motions to ensure that you don’t spread it to other parts of the garment. Do this for a few minutes until the stain begins to lift.
Step 3: Place the garment in a deep bucket in a bathtub and then pour boiling water over the stained area. Stand far back enough to avoid scalding yourself.
Step 4: Turn the garment inside out and repeat the process.
Step 5: Wash as usual and let the garment dry out in the sun.
While stain remover spray is highly effective it can also contain toxic ingredients, so handle it carefully and store it away from children.
Other Natural Stain Cleaners
There are a couple of other common ingredients that you can use to get bike grease out of clothes.
Some people swear by a mix of lemon and vinegar. They are both acidic, so it makes sense that when you combine them they act as powerful grease strippers.
However, I avoid them because those same acidic properties that are so good at cutting grease can also damage fabric, especially if it’s delicate.
I recommend that you try on a small corner of the garment before spraying this mix on the stain. Make sure that you rinse the garment thoroughly and then launder as usual.
For the worst grease stains, Borax is recommended. It’s a powerful degreaser and has corrosive qualities which can be helpful when you are dealing with really heavy fabrics.
For best results make a paste of Borax and water, apply on the stain and leave for a few minutes. Remove using a soft brush and then wash the garment as recommended.
Borax is a lethal substance and should be handled with care at all times.
Preventive Measures: How to Avoid Bike Grease on Your Clothes
Learning how to get bike grease from clothes is all well and good, but how can you avoid getting them on your clothes in the first place?
If you use a bike with any sort of regularity bike grease stains are inevitable, but they don’t have to happen every day. There are simple steps you can take to make sure that your trouser legs, socks, and tops stay clean as you cycle.
Clean your bike chain on a regular basis. I have written a long and detailed post here on how to do that.
- Invest in cycling leg straps or leg shields. They are designed to keep your pants and socks out of your bike chain and prevent grease from getting on them. You can try Leg Shield, Leg Shield Reflective Ankle Bands or ROCKBROS Bike Pants Strap.
- If you don’t have money for leg shields you can improvise using thick rubber bands or Velcro bands and paper. Make sure to secure the paper very tightly, because if it comes off as you are cycling it can get caught in the chain and cause a nasty accident.
- If there’s a pair of pants that you really love but must wear as you cycle (like to go to work), the easiest thing to do is just tuck them into your socks. This works well enough, but remember that when you untuck them your pants will be creased.
- Metal pant clips are old fashioned and dirt-cheap, but they work too especially if you have to cycle in nice pants.
In Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway, many people rely solely on cycling as their means of transportation and use a full chainguard to keep grease off their clothes. In the US these aren’t too popular as they are considered unnecessary additional weight.
- Lastly, if it’s not too cold, you can turn up your pants or cycle in shorts.
Learning how to remove bike grease from clothing may not seem like a big deal if you don’t cycle regularly, but when you start using your bike more often you’ll realize that stains are a part of life.
You can’t throw away every garment because it has a little grease, so it makes sense that you learn how to remove bicycle grease from clothing.
At the risk of repeating myself, when you are removing bike grease from clothes it’s very important to think about the fabric and whether it can withstand the kind of treatment you have in mind.
The methods that I’ve discussed here work, but they may ruin delicate fabrics. If you are not sure, best to run your greasy clothes to your local dry cleaner. They have the right detergents and equipment to degrease clothes without damaging them.