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How to Remove Grease Stains and More From Automotive Workwear

08/11/2020 by Kyle Greco

Whether you fix cars for a living, or just like spending your weekends in your own garage, automotive stains are a fact of life. Because if you’re doing things right, you’re gonna get dirty.

But that doesn’t mean you have to walk around with greased-up, stained workwear. Nor do you have to buy a new work uniform every three weeks. 

Instead, give these tried-and-true methods for removing stains from automotive workwear a shot. Whether it’s gas, grease, or just plain sweat, find just the thing you need to fight your stains below.

 

Work without worrying about automotive stains.

 

Gasoline, Grease, and Oil

Work on a car in just about any capacity, and you’re bound to get one of these stains. And because they’re so common, it seems like there are a million methods to try and get them out. 

Some swear by soaking your laundry in a vat of Pepsi (save the Coke for drinking), while others stand by trusty household cleaners. Of course, I have a different idea for how to get these pesky stains out.

 

Careful where you’re pouring, there.

 

So You Have A Stain. Here’s What to Do Before It Sets

Before it dries: pour baby powder or cornstarch on the affected area. These powders are terrific at soaking up stain-causing materials, like grease.

Get the dish soap: use a small, rigid-bristle brush and scrub the stained area. This activates the grease-fighting properties of the soap.

Wash it out: rinse the garment in warm water.

Air dry: don’t throw the garment in the dryer, as this could cause any remaining grease to permanently adhere to the fabric. 

-Repeat if necessary. 

Wiper Fluid

This one might not be as “automotive professional” oriented as the others, but it’s a problem all of us could encounter at some point. 

So you’re about to go to work, and your windshield is absolutely covered in stuff. You pull the stick for wiper fluid, only to be greeted by a few pathetic dribbles. Now you have to get out and wipe it off yourself. This morning is going great.

Then it’s over to the grocery store for new fluid. In a rush to get it all in the reservoir and get on with your day, you manage to spill a few drops on your pants. Is it time to call out of work?

I sure won’t blame you for wanting to crawl back into bed. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like draining your PTO, you could just run back into the store and pick up some dish soap. Once you’re at work, head into the bathroom and hit that stain-to-be with a few drops of the soap. Rub it a bit with your hands, and it should come out no problem. 

Road Salt

The need for oil changes doesn’t stop in the winter, which means your shop is packed to the gills with cars every weekend, even when road conditions are at their worst. As such, you’re sure to spend plenty of time rubbing up against salt-laden cars. 

It’s a fact of life in the winter, but you don’t have to live with the scars of it come springtime, provided you take care of the stains when your shift is done. It isn’t too difficult to do, either. 

Start with a bucket of cold water. Throw your stained workwear into the cold water and let that H2O get to work pulling out any leftover salt through some scientific process I probably learned about in 11th grade chemistry.

After letting your clothes soak for a few hours, apply distilled white vinegar to the stained areas with a cloth or sponge. From there, you can toss it into the washing machine as you normally would.

 

If you look like this, you’re going to get salt and sweat on your work clothes.

 

Antifreeze

Okay, I can’t be the only one who thinks antifreeze looks cool. It looks like martian blood, or something. 

But unless you want to be tried for intergalactic crimes, you probably don’t want to wear it. Now be warned, because removing antifreeze stains is a PROCESS. 

Start by running the water very hot. Then, stretch the stained area of your item and hold it under the water. This will get some of the antifreeze out of the garment. 

To work out the rest, pour a bit of liquid detergent onto the stained area, and massage it with a rag. Rinse it under hot water again. From there, scrub the area with some color-safe bleach, and throw it in the washing machine on hot.

Sweat

It feels second nature to you, but working on a car is a very physical job! If you’re working hard, you’re going to sweat, and sweat can stain. At some point, those stains are less of a badge of honor for a job well done, and more just plain gross. 

Fortunately, a simple soak can keep sweat stains at bay. Make a mixture of lemon juice and water for your clothes to go in. After they’ve spent some time soaking, scrub the stained areas to remove the built up grime. Then, treat the affected areas with vinegar before washing it with a load of laundry.

When is it Time to Replace My Uniform?

The idea behind treating these stains is to keep your automotive workwear in the best condition possible. However, every uniform eventually reaches a point of no return.

When your workwear simply has too many stains that are set in the fabric, it’s probably wise to invest in a new set of clothes. At best, a badly stained uniform will get you a ribbing from your coworkers. At worst, it looks unprofessional and could lose clients. 

If your workwear is physically deteriorating, especially as you try to clean stains, it likely is no longer durable enough to serve you in the garage. Auto workwear with holes won’t protect you in the garage.

When you work in the garage, spills, messes, and mistakes are going to happen. Now you don’t have to wear them all on your sleeve!

About the Author

Kyle Greco Kyle Greco is the resident writer at RushOrderTees, where he blends word nerdery with his love for T-shirts. A graduate of The College of New Jersey, he is interested in exploring the intersection of clothing and culture. In his spare time, he makes music, builds guitars, and cooks with his wife. He enjoys hot dogs, sports, and collecting too many hats.