Have you ever been out riding your bike or working on it and found your clothes covered in grease? Well, we have – more times than we wish to remember.
Bikes, like many other mechanical vehicles, require grease to work properly, and it’s messy stuff.
As a bike mechanic and avid cyclist, I have lost so many items of clothing to bike grease. Eventually, I realised knowing how to get bike grease out of clothes should be an essential skill for cyclists – and one I needed to learn quickly!
Now I’ve had plenty of experience, I’m sharing my top tips on how to get bike grease out of clothes with you. Read on, as we’ll be covering:
- What Does Bike Grease Contain?
- Why Is Bike Grease So Messy?
- What Can You Use To Remove Bike Grease?
- How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes in 5 Steps
- 4 Top Tips When Removing Bike Grease Stains
- Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes
What Does Bike Grease Contain?
Bike grease is a combination of different oils, additives, and thickeners. It is used to stop parts from seizing up and help them move freely.
You will find it in many places, such as where bearings are present and around your bottom bracket and headset.
Bike grease is used in many jobs when it comes to general maintenance. It is part of a lot of bike essential tool kits. It’s great for keeping moisture out of places and stopping parts from getting stuck together. It’s not rare for people to even use bike grease on some bolts.
In this article, our method for removing grease will also work on removing lube and general bike oil.
Why Is Bike Grease So Messy?
Bike grease naturally attracts dirt, and not only does it hold onto it very well, but it will also take it everywhere it goes. If your hands are covered in grease, wherever you touch from there on will also be covered in grease.
What makes it incredibly difficult and very messy is the fact it is water-resistant and challenging to break down. It’s not like dirt which can just be wiped off. Instead, it spreads.
Bike grease is awful when it comes to clothing, as it has an amazing ability to get into the clothing fibers. When grease gets in these fibers, it’s very challenging to remove.
The Challenge Of Removing Bike Grease
Removing bike grease from clothing is very challenging because you have to be very careful about the products you use and the process you follow.
The last thing you want to do is damage the clothing or stain it further.
What Can You Use To Remove Bike Grease?
You can use many different products to remove bike grease, and I have used many that have worked wonders on those tough-to-remove stains.
Here are our favorites:
Washing Up Liquid
Also known as dishwashing liquid in many countries. Washing up liquid has the ability to break down the components of grease and remove it from clothing and other parts. It also has the same effect on fatty residue after cooking.
Baking soda is a product you will find in many households. It can lift grease from clothing and, mixed with other substances, such as lemon juice, can be excellent for removing stains without using harsh chemicals.
If you plan to use baking soda, we recommend one part baking soda and one part lemon juice. It can be used alone if required.
White vinegar is excellent to have around the house, especially when it comes to stains. It is well known for its grease-cutting ability and is much less damaging to clothing compared to general degreasers.
Lemon juice contains natural acids which can break down components in grease. It alone is excellent for removing grease, but when combined with baking soda makes a powerful stain-removal tool.
If you plan to use lemon juice, it’s one part lemon juice and one part baking soda.
General Stain Remover
Then finally, you have stain removers. These come from various companies and are called many different things, from Oxi Clean, Shout, Pink Stuff, and Carbona. These are excellent, but you do have to be careful with certain fabrics.
Some people turn to WD40 when it comes to stains, as it is amazing at removing grease and dirt. You must be very cautious when using this on clothes as it doesn’t work well with all fabrics.
For general T-Shirts, it’s an ideal solution. It can also work for lycra, but it can cause issues for some fabrics.
Warning! Before starting this step to step, check the manufacturer’s website to ensure you won’t damage the clothing further!
How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes in 5 Steps
Here’s what you are going to need to complete the task:
- Sponge or Toothbrush
- Grease Removal Substance
- Washing Machine
In this guide, we have decided to use washing-up liquid.
All substances above can follow the same process, but washing up liquid is one of the most effective, and most people have it readily available.
If you have washed the bike clothes before getting to this process, you might not get as good results, but still, you get benefits from doing this.
Step #1. Preparation
The first step is to get prepared. We will need to get the item of clothing we plan to remove the grease from and set up a bowl in front of you so we don’t make a mess.
Then get all the goods, such as a sponge, water, and whatever you may use to remove the grease.
Step #2. Scrub And Soak
Next, we need to soak the stain for a while. Place the item of clothing in the bowl with the stain on the top. You need to take your grease removal substance and use the toothbrush to scrub it in.
When scrubbing it, be careful not to damage the clothing.
Once you have given it a good scrub and it has a good amount of grease removal, you will want to add a bit more to the stain and let it soak in. I would leave it for roughly an hour before going back.
Step #3. Rinse The Stain
Next, you need to rinse the stain with cold water. You cannot use warm water as it reacts with the grease and makes it harder to remove.
Using cold water, come from the opposite side the stain went on and rinse it through. You will see a lot of the grease come out here. After you have done this, I recommend giving it another scrub with the grease removal and then another rinse.
Don’t be scared to soak it for longer if you feel it will benefit you, but when you’re done, remove the grease removal.
Step #4. Put In The Washing Machine
Next, you need to put the item of clothing into the washing machine. As someone who has done this a fair amount of times, I have found the colder the wash, the better.
Be sure to check the clothing manufacturer’s guidelines in this part of the process!
Step #5. Remove And Dry
Let it dry, and you’re good to wear it again! Following these steps, you can rest assured that you’ll now know how to get bike grease out of clothes.
Finally, the last part is to wait for the wash to end. When you’re ready, get the clothing out, and the stain should be removed or, at the least, heavily reduced.
4 Top Tips When Working With Bike Grease Stains
Bike grease stains can be a nightmare to remove. It’s not like cycling lycra or workshop clothes are cheap either and can just be thrown away.
Here are our 4 top tips when working with bike grease stains:
Tip #1: Work Carefully
The first and best thing you can do when working with bike grease is to work carefully. Avoid getting any grease on you in the first place, and if you can’t avoid it, try to be in dirty clothes. We appreciate this isn’t easy when on the road.
Many cyclists choose to wax their bikes where they can instead of grease, which reduces the chances of bike grease stains (along with a lot of other benefits!).
tip #2: Don’t Wash Until Worked
One mistake we see many people make is seeing a grease stain and throwing it straight in the wash on a warm setting.
This will remove some of the grease but can also make the stain much harder to remove later, as the heat seals it in.
tip #3: Don’t Use Abrasive Degreasers
We often see cyclists, when they find a grease stain on their lycra or clothing, go straight to the powerful bike degreaser and start spraying. We recommend avoiding this.
Although it may work, it will easily damage the clothing or leave it smelling strange.
Tip #4: Avoid Heat
Avoiding heat is what you have to do when it comes to working with a bike grease stain.
Although hot water is excellent at breaking up dirt and grime with grease, it breaks it down only to set itself deeper into the fibers.
Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes
Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!