Stains happen if you’re a cyclist. And clothing grease stains—those big black marks that somehow manage to spread faster than a plague—are some of the toughest to deal with. But just because you marked up yourfavorite pair of jeans (roll them up next time you ride!), don’t panic: You can get grease stains out of clothing if you treat them properly.
To figure out how to get grease out of clothes, we went directly to the source: Pedro’s, a small, Maine-based company that makes bike lubes, cleaners, and tools, whose employees frequently get dirty on the job. Pedro’s Product Manager Matt Bracken shared a few tips and tricks he’s picked up over the years as a cyclist and mechanic who deals with grease daily.
Don’t Toss It in the Machine
The worst thing you can do for grease-stained clothing is start the ‘heavy-duty’ cycle right away, says Bracken. Rather than washing the stain away, the hot water often locks in the grease and makes it impossible to remove. Pretreat the stain before you toss it in the washing machine.
Degreaser: not just for bike chains anymore! Here's how to use it:
1. Apply degreaser to the stain. Let it sink in for a few minutes.
2. Scrub with a bristled brush.
3. Rinse in cool water.
4. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Bracken suggests using dish soap if degreaser isn’t accessible and it’s a fresh stain: If it can cut through greasy food, it can cut through greasy denim. And if you’re traveling, keep a single-serve wipe with a degreasing component—like a Cat’s Tongue towel or one of these great wipes—on-hand to get the worst of the grease off your clothes before you get home.
Be warned: Bracken adds that stains on thinner materials might not come out with this method—you’ll end up rubbing a hole into the fabric before the stain is totally gone.
Keep a Cleaner Chain
The best offense is a good defense. Most grease stains come from a dirty bike chain. Grease is hard enough to get out when you rub your pant leg against a clean chain, but the grease from a chain that’s been ridden hard through mud puddles and gravel is nearly impossible to remove, says Bracken. To prevent this, regularly clean your chain and bike: keeping a bike clean is a lot less of a hassle than removing grease from clothes.
Switch to Black Cycling Kit
If you’re constantly finding grease on your cycling kit or workshop clothes, consider swapping to basic black, at least for your shorts.
“Ever wonder why mechanics wear a lot of black?” Bracken says. “It’s so you can’t see the grease stains.” He suggests that if you know grease is in your future, you switch your prized white button-down for a junky black t-shirt or a shop apron. No stain, no problem!
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