Photo credit: Thomas Endesfelder

There are few things I loathe more than shopping for clothes. Maybe dental work and gynecological exams, but that’s it. Buying new clothes lies somewhere in the deepest circle of hell, and cleaning them? Not much better. It’s the extra cost of wrenching no one seems to mention, but I hate it all the same.

Like everyone else who works on their own cars, I have a rotating collection of clothes that I don’t mind getting dirty: usually darker jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts that I’ve worn for a while.

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In the mad dash to get my Volkswagen 411 race car running, I got all of these spare clothes dirty, plus a couple items I that didn’t want to get dirty once I started to run out of laundry. Sometimes I would sneak a shirt I liked a bit more in under a sweatshirt to try and spread out the use of my grossest clothes, yet those often ended up dirty anyway. I couldn’t win.

PSA: there is no such thing as “I’m just going to do a couple things on the car and not get covered in grime” with an aircooled Volkswagen. These cars will destroy every piece of fabric you bring near them. Heed my warning, or you will suffer as I have.

I didn’t have time to deal with my pile of oily, grimy clothes (which had grown to a full load of laundry in its own right) until Thanksgiving weekend. I’d been unsuccessful at getting out a few stains in this set of clothes before, so I even asked resident clean person Jolie Kerr for advice, and showed up at Mom’s house armed with two huge bags of laundry and additional cleaning supplies.

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My usual work clothes were so wrecked that I ran completely out of Pine Sol to dab on stains midway through the bag of VW clothes. However, soaking things for an hour in Tide Ultra and color-safe bleach (as advised) also seemed to help considerably.

This lengthy process of stain treating, then soaking, then washing, then drying, then re-treating, re-soaking, re-washing, and so on, and so on sucked. Most of my spare time on my so-called “days off” (ha) was spent trying, trying and trying again to get the stupid oil stains out of my clothes. It worked for most of my gross clothes, but not with everything.

The Porschelump shirt in question, now with extra dribbles of oil that won’t come out somewhere under those racing suit sleeves.

I went home defeated: both of the sweatshirts I owned had spots that wouldn’t come out after three or four tries. (I have other, nicer fleeces, but I don’t want those within 12 states of the Volkswagen’s trunk.) Three t-shirts including my original Porschelump team shirt that I wore to race the VW had little black oil spots that wouldn’t come out. I should have known I would mess with the engine while we were trying to race the car, and now I feel a bit dumb.

My designated gross work pants are now perma-stained in a few places, too, but I care less about those. My Porschelump shirt in all its period-appropriate-for-the-944 bright teal glory is wrecked, and I’m sad.

Raph was probably on to something when he praised the existence of coveralls. I mean, that’s better than trying to find a new pair of gross pants that fits as comfortably as these gross pants. Shopping for clothes is still the worst.