It may be one of life’s mysteries, but no matter how careful you are, bike grease somehow seems to make it onto your clothes. Whether it’s your prized lycra or commuting attire, finding that little dark smudge can be a bummer. The truth is, it’s tough to remove bike grease from clothes, but luckily it’s not impossible!
Changing a flat or performing mid-ride drivetrain surgery can leave your hands a grimy mess. If you don’t have anything with you to take care of it, that grease is going to end up all over your bar tape or grips, and most likely make it onto your clothes. It also feels nasty on your hands. To avoid this, and in turn save your clothes, be sure to head out on every ride or commute prepared for the worst.
Step 1: Degreaser Wipes
You may not think of bringing degreaser wipes with you on every ride, but they definitely come in handy! They are an easy way to quickly clean grease off your bike and hands if you’ve had to do any roadside fixes, but they can also be the first stage of attack on grease spots on your clothes. Simply give the grease spot a quick wipe, as the longer it sits on the material the harder it will be to get out. You can then tackle it full force once you get home. You can get single serve packs that you can easily fit in your saddlebag, or use a ziplock bag to bring a couple from a larger container.
Step 2: Wash the Spot(s)
Option 1 – Use Dishwashing Liquid
Once you get home, you can further remove bike grease from clothes with dishwashing liquid. This works best on recent stains on synthetic fabrics and cotton. Dish soap is great at fighting grease and breaking down oil, so it’s naturally up for the task. Put a small amount directly on the spot and rub it into the fabric with your fingers or an old toothbrush. For tougher stains, combine dish soap and a little of baking soda and stir it into a paste, then apply.
Once you’ve let this sit for a minute or two, rinse the area with cold water. Place the fabric under the tap, with the stain side down so the water is running through to the front of the stain. Hang it to dry, keeping an eye on the stain. If it’s gone, then you can wash and dry the garment as usual. If it reappears, repeat the process above. Make sure you never tumble dry an item of clothing with bike grease on it, as it well set the stain and make it almost impossible to remove.
Option 2 – Use Baking Soda
If you happen to ride your bike in your finest silk, wool, or another delicate cloth, then you’ll want to give these item a little extra love when the grease hits it. Cover the stain with dry baking soda and leave overnight. The powder should absorb the grease, making it easy to brush off in the morning. Wash as usual and hang to dry to ensure the stain does not reappear.