Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Here's How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls

If you’re an avid wrencher like me, and you’ve been living in a house covered in oil stains for years, be stained no more. I have a solution that may change your life.

Advertisement

I know it’s probably hard to take cleaning advice from someone who tried fixing stained clothes by dyeing them in motor oil, and who cleaned oily car parts with his dishwasher. But this time is different, I promise; for the first time ever, I actually have real, useful sanitation advice.

Advertisement

You see, after my friend and I rebuilt my 1948 Jeep’s transfer case in my kitchen sink, I thought my house was pretty much toast; that I’d have to live out the rest of my years in a grimy cave coated in nasty oil residue.

The stuff was everywhere—counter tops, appliances, walls, floors, toilet handles, sinks, my shower; nothing was spared. It got so bad that my friends refused to come over to visit.

I tried getting the grime off with a bunch of different cleaners. I used Windex and Kroger brand multi-surface cleaners, Dawn dish soap mixed with water, a solution of of white vinegar and water, CLR Bath and Kitchen Cleaner—but these cleaners either required tons of scrubbing, or they just couldn’t get rid of the stains completely.

Advertisement

Search results on the internet recommended strange concoctions using corn starch, and many folks seem to just recommend repainting walls that had been stained with oil. Upon reading that, all hope seemed lost, until—in a last ditch effort to live in a semi-presentable abode—I grabbed my foaming bathroom cleaner and a roll of paper towels.

The cleaner, which you probably known as Scrubbing Bubbles, is basically an expanding foam that’s designed to break up soap scum from showers or the crap in your toilets. But the stuff also works to break up oil from pretty much any hard surface.

Advertisement

Let the results speak for themselves; check out this wall in my kitchen, which is covered in oil stains that have been there for months:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

I sprayed some bathroom cleaner on it, and waited a minute or two:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

Here’s how it looked after a single application of the bathroom cleaner; subsequent applications have resulted in a perfectly white wall with zero stains:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

Here’s one of my greasy light-switches:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

After some foam and some light scrubbing with a paper towel, that switch almost looks presentable:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

The worst offender was my door, which I often opened while in the middle of a dirty wrenching job. The edges looked hideous:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

But just look at this magic:

Advertisement

The refrigerator handle was even more difficult, because the plastic is textured, meaning my paper towel really didn’t do a great job at digging into the troughs:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

So I broke out a bristle brush:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

And within seconds, my refrigerator—which holds all sorts of foods that should probably remain free from carcinogenic oils—finally looks presentable:

Illustration for article titled Heres How To Get Used Motor Oil Off Of Your Walls
Advertisement

To prove the mettle of my patented (not patented) oil-stain removal technique, I went outside into my garage, grabbed an oil catch pan, and dipped my hand into some nasty used 10W-30. Then I wiped the grime onto a white wall:

Advertisement

You could argue that wiping oil on a house that I rent is a risky move, but just look at how well that cheap Kroger-brand foaming cleaner took that oil off.

So for all you poor saps out there who, like me, have been living in a disgusting, oil-covered house, consider this a public service announcement: bathroom cleaner is your salvation.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

superfastmatt
Matt Brown

Where were you 6 years ago when I didn’t get my rental deposit back. I used a power washer and that still didn’t work. I POWER WASHED MY DRYWALL DAVID.