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Maybe you accidentally brushed your chain with your trousers. Or perhaps you’ve been doing some repairs to your bike and caught your jacket. Unfortunately you’re likely to have evidence of your run-ins in the form of stains on your clothes.
Does Bike Grease and Oil Stain Clothes?
Bike grease and oil are fat based so not only do they repel water, but they are attracted to synthetic fibres such as polyester. This combination means that they will easily and quickly stain your clothes.
Before you know it, that familiar mark appears on your favourite jeans or top but what do you do next?
How to Get Bike Grease out of Clothes?
There are many ways to get bike grease out of clothes and thankfully most will already be in your kitchen. Dishwashing liquid, baking soda, laundry detergent and soap will all help to remove stains from your clothes.
Regardless of which method you go for, the key is to act quickly and also resist the temptation to immediately throw your affected clothing in the washing machine as this will not work.
We’ll run through using dishwashing liquid in our below step by step guide as this is our preferred solution because it is quick, simple and suitable for all types of clothing. You’re also more likely to have access to it at work too. However, in case you don’t have any to hand we’ll also share how to do the other options.
First up is baking soda. Pour a bit onto the stained area of your clothing so it is covered and leave it for 6-8 hours. When you wipe it off, the stain should have been removed. Wash the item of clothing on its usual cycle according to the label instructions and leave it to line dry.
A similar approach is used for laundry detergent and hand soap except you don’t need to leave it for as long. Simply apply either to the stain, wait for a few minutes, rinse with hot water and then put it in the washing machine before drying the clothing outside or on a line inside.
If your kitchen isn’t well stocked, fear not as there are other household items that can be used. Chalk and baby powder both work in a similar way to baking soda. With chalk, cover the stain and then leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing and using the washing machine as per the garment instructions. For baby powder, do the same but use a toothbrush to give it more of a scrub.
You may need to rinse and repeat all of these methods a few times for tough stains but it is important to note that if your grease or oil stain has been around for a while, these suggestions may not work or be as effective. So if you’re still not happy with the stain situation, it might be time to look into replacing the garments.
Thankfully we’ve compiled some insightful lists of the best waterproof cycling trousers for commuting, and also stylish and casual cycling clothing, so you’ve got plenty of high quality choices. Just make sure you try to stay away from grease and oil in future!
Bike Grease Stain Removal [6-Steps]
- Apply dishwashing liquid to the stain as soon as possible
- Gently rub it in using a circular motion either by hand or with an old toothbrush
- Leave the dishwashing liquid to soak in for 5 minutes
- Rinse the stain well with warm water and repeat the above steps if necessary
- Wash the garment on its usual cycle in the washing machine
- Line dry if possible as tumble dryers can cause the stain to set in
How to Avoid Bike Chain Stains on Clothes
The best way to avoid bike chain stains is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Your bike chain is the main source of potential stains. Keeping your chain clean will therefore reduce the risk of it damaging your clothes, plus it is also good practice to look after it well so your bike stays in good working condition.
A handy chain cleaning tool and some degreaser will help you to do this. Check out this quick video from Trek to learn what you need, and how to clean and maintain your bike chain.
Another solution is to use a chainguard. Pictured below, this covers your chain so it will stop you from making contact with your bike chain. As an added bonus, it will also mean your chain won’t come off when using your gears.
You can also adapt your choice of clothing. Trouser clips are a quick, simple and cheap way to stop your trousers from getting caught in your chain. They are small circular bits of plastic that wrap around your trouser legs to keep them tight and in place. You can also use reflective snap bands for the same purpose.
Alternatively you can opt for darker clothing so that if you do get stains, they are less noticeable. Or if you know you’re going to be doing some work on your bike and a grease or oil stain is more likely, you can wear older clothing that you’re not as bothered about, or wear an apron or coverall to keep your clothing protected.
If you’re out and about on your bike and discover a stain, you can always carry degreasing wipes like these from Tub O Towels to quickly give it a scrub until you get home and can properly address it using the above methods.
It’s always easier to prevent stains and dirt rather than have to deal with them once they’ve happened. The same applies for your helmet too which is often overlooked but still needs to be regularly cleaned. Thankfully you can use the same easily available kitchen products like soap and detergent to keep your helmet in tip top condition as shown in our useful guide on how to clean a bike helmet.
With some simple suggestions on how to deal with bike grease and oil stains, and ways to prevent them from occurring, hopefully the days of arriving at work with a greasy chain imprint on your trousers are now over!