How To Clean Oil From Under Cars

Keeping the underside of your car clean is not only essential for its overall appearance but also for its long-term health. Oil leaks can lead to serious engine damage if left unattended. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to effectively clean oil from under cars.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need


Before you begin, ensure that the car is on a level surface and the engine is cool. Safety is a priority, so use jack stands to securely lift the car if needed.

Step 2: Prepare the Area

Spread oil absorbent material (kitty litter, sawdust, or oil absorbent pads) under the area with oil stains. This will help absorb excess oil and prevent it from spreading.

Step 3: Remove Excess Oil

Carefully scrape off any loose oil or grease with a putty knife or similar tool. Dispose of the contaminated absorbent material in accordance with local regulations.

Step 4: Apply Degreaser

Spray a generous amount of automotive degreaser onto the oil-stained area. Ensure that the area is well-saturated. Allow it to sit for the recommended time specified on the product label. This will allow the degreaser to break down the oil.

Step 5: Scrub the Area

Use a wire brush or a stiff-bristle brush to scrub the oil-stained area vigorously. Scrub in a back-and-forth and circular motion to help the degreaser penetrate the oil and lift it from the surface. If the stain is particularly stubborn, you can make a paste of baking soda and water to add some extra scrubbing power.

Step 6: Rinse and Repeat

Thoroughly rinse the area with a hose or a bucket of water. Ensure that all traces of the degreaser and oil are removed. If necessary, repeat steps 4 and 5 until the oil stain is gone.

Step 7: Dry the Area

Use old towels or rags to dry the cleaned area. Make sure it’s completely dry to prevent future oil buildup.

Step 8: Dispose of Waste Properly

Dispose of the used degreaser and contaminated towels or rags in accordance with local environmental regulations.

Step 9: Prevent Future Oil Leaks

To prevent future oil leaks, regularly inspect your vehicle for oil leaks and address any issues promptly. Also, consider using an oil drip pan or tray under your car if you notice ongoing leaks.

Step 10: Check for the Source of the Oil Leak

After cleaning the oil from under your car, it’s crucial to identify and address the source of the oil leak to prevent future contamination. Common sources of oil leaks include:

  • Oil Drain Plug: Ensure the drain plug is properly tightened and has a new washer if needed.
  • Oil Filter: Check if the oil filter is securely attached. Sometimes, a loose or damaged oil filter can cause leaks.
  • Valve Cover Gasket: Inspect the valve cover gasket for cracks or damage. This is a common source of oil leaks.
  • Oil Pan Gasket: If your car’s oil pan gasket is damaged, it can lead to significant leaks. Inspect it for any signs of wear.
  • Front and Rear Main Seals: These seals prevent oil from escaping the engine. If they are compromised, it can result in substantial oil leaks.
  • Transmission Fluid: If you notice red or brown oil, it might be transmission fluid, not engine oil. Check your transmission for leaks as well.

Step 11: Perform Regular Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is key to keeping your car’s engine and underside clean. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Regular Oil Changes: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals to keep the engine well-lubricated and reduce the chances of oil leaks.
  • Inspect Hoses and Lines: Check all hoses and lines for signs of wear or damage. Replace any cracked or deteriorated components.
  • Check Gaskets: Regularly inspect gaskets, including the valve cover gasket and oil pan gasket, for any signs of wear or leaks. Replace them as needed.
  • Tighten Bolts: Periodically check the tightness of bolts and fittings, such as the oil drain plug and filter. Loose components can lead to oil leaks.
  • Clean the Engine Bay: Keeping the engine bay clean can help you spot oil leaks early. Clean it gently with a degreaser and a soft brush.

Step 12: Use Oil Drip Pans or Trays

If your car continues to experience oil leaks, consider placing an oil drip pan or tray under the vehicle. These catch any leaking oil and prevent it from staining your driveway or garage floor. Make sure to empty and clean the tray regularly.

Step 13: Consult a Professional

If you are unable to identify or fix the source of the oil leak yourself, it’s essential to consult a professional mechanic. Ignoring oil leaks can lead to severe engine damage and costly repairs.

Step 14: Environmentally Responsible Disposal

Dispose of any used materials, such as oil absorbent material, rags, and degreaser, in an environmentally responsible manner. Many auto parts stores or recycling centers accept used oil and related materials for proper disposal.


Common Cleaning Methods

MethodDescriptionMaterials NeededProsCons
Absorbent MaterialsUse materials like kitty litter or sawdustKitty litter or sawdustEffective at soaking up oilDisposal of used materials
DegreaserApply a degreasing solution to the oil stainDegreasing solutionQuick and efficientChemicals may harm the environment
Pressure WashingUse a pressure washer to remove oil stainsPressure washerThorough cleaning, no residuePotential for surface damage
BioremediationEmploy natural microorganisms to break down oilMicroorganismsEnvironmentally friendly, long-lastingSlower process
Steam CleaningApply high-temperature steam to the oil stainSteam cleanerDeep cleaning, no chemicals neededRequires special equipment

Absorbent Materials Comparison

MaterialAbsorption Capacity (per kg)Cost (per kg)AvailabilityEnvironmental Impact
Kitty Litter2-3 liters$1-$2WidelyMinimal
Sawdust3-4 liters$0.50-$1ReadilyMinimal
Rice Husks4-5 liters$1-$2LimitedMinimal
Cornstarch5-6 liters$1.50-$3LimitedMinimal
Vermiculite6-7 liters$2-$4LimitedMinimal

Degreaser Types

TypeDescriptionStrengthSuitable SurfacesSafety Precautions
Solvent-Based DegreaserContains chemicals to dissolve oilHighMetal, concrete, asphaltUse in well-ventilated areas
Water-Based DegreaserUses water to emulsify and remove oilMediumVarious surfaces, eco-friendlyLess harmful to skin
Citrus-Based DegreaserDerived from citrus extractsLow to MediumMetal, plastic, painted surfacesBiodegradable, pleasant odor
Bio-DegreaserContains natural enzymesLowAll surfaces, eco-friendlySafe for the environment

Pressure Washer Comparison

Pressure Washer TypePSI RangeFlow Rate (GPM)Price RangeSuitable Applications
Electric1,300-2,3001.2-2.2$100-$300Light-duty cleaning tasks
Gasoline2,300-3,8002.0-4.0$300-$800Medium to heavy-duty tasks
Hot Water2,000-4,0002.0-4.0$800-$2,500Grease and oil removal
Commercial4,000-7,0004.0-8.0$2,500-$5,000Professional and industrial use
Industrial7,000+8.0+$5,000+Heavy-duty industrial cleaning

Bioremediation Process Steps

Site AssessmentEvaluate the oil-contaminated area1-2 daysTailored approach, eco-friendlyInitial site preparation
Microorganism SelectionChoose appropriate microorganisms1-2 daysTargeted oil degradationSourcing specialized microbes
ApplicationApply microorganisms and nutrients to the site1-2 daysMinimal disruption to the environmentEven distribution of microbes
MonitoringRegularly assess microbial activity and oil reductionWeeks to monthsSelf-sustaining processWeather and environmental factors
Post-TreatmentAssess the effectiveness and restore the siteMonths to yearsRemediated site, reduced costsLong-term monitoring and care



Cleaning oil from under cars is not only about aesthetics but also about preserving the health and functionality of your vehicle. Regular maintenance, prompt leak identification, and proper cleaning techniques are essential for keeping your car’s underside clean and in good working condition. By following these steps and staying proactive, you can ensure a cleaner and more reliable automobile.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean oil from under your car and maintain its cleanliness and functionality. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to oil leaks are essential to keep your vehicle in top condition.


How To Clean Oil From Under Cars

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