How to get brake fluid out of clothes

Introduction: Brake fluid stains on clothing can be frustrating and unsightly. However, with the right approach and a little patience, you can effectively remove these stubborn stains. In this guide, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to get brake fluid out of clothes, ensuring your garments look as good as new.

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Disposable gloves
  2. Old cloth or paper towels
  3. Absorbent materials (cornstarch, talcum powder, or baking soda)
  4. Stain remover or dishwashing liquid
  5. Stain pre-treatment spray
  6. A soft-bristle brush
  7. Laundry detergent
  8. Washing machine

Step 1: Act Quickly


Before handling brake fluid or stained clothing, put on disposable gloves to protect your hands from the potentially harmful chemicals in the brake fluid.

Step 3: Blot the Stain

Take an old cloth or paper towels and gently blot the stained area. Do not rub the stain, as this can spread it further. Blotting will help absorb excess brake fluid from the fabric.

Step 4: Apply Absorbent Material

Sprinkle a generous amount of absorbent material like cornstarch, talcum powder, or baking soda directly onto the stain. These materials will help absorb the remaining brake fluid.

Step 5: Let It Sit

Allow the absorbent material to sit on the stain for at least 15-20 minutes. This gives it time to absorb as much of the brake fluid as possible.

Step 6: Brush Off the Absorbent Material

Use a soft-bristle brush to gently brush off the absorbent material. Be careful not to damage the fabric in the process.

Step 7: Pre-Treat the Stain

Apply a stain pre-treatment spray or a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent directly to the stain. Work it into the fabric using your fingers or a soft brush. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.

Step 8: Wash the Garment

Wash the stained garment separately from your other clothes to prevent the stain from spreading. Follow the care label instructions for water temperature and washing machine settings. Use a laundry detergent designed to remove tough stains.

Step 9: Check the Stain

After washing, carefully inspect the stained area to ensure the brake fluid stain is gone. If any trace remains, do not dry the garment, as heat can set the stain. Instead, repeat the pre-treatment and washing steps.

Step 10: Air Dry

Once the stain is completely gone, air dry the garment. Avoid using a dryer until you are certain the stain is gone, as heat can make stains more difficult to remove.

Step 11: Check Again

After air drying, check the garment one more time to ensure the stain is entirely gone. If it’s still visible, repeat the stain removal process before attempting another wash.

Additional Tips and Considerations:

  1. Safety First: Always wear disposable gloves when handling brake fluid or stained clothing. Brake fluid contains chemicals that can be harmful to your skin.
  2. Test in an Inconspicuous Area: Before applying any stain remover or pre-treatment, test it on a hidden area of the fabric to ensure it doesn’t cause color fading or damage.
  3. Use an Enzyme-Based Stain Remover: For stubborn stains, consider using an enzyme-based stain remover. Enzyme cleaners are effective at breaking down organic stains like brake fluid.
  4. Avoid Heat: Do not use hot water or high-heat settings on the dryer until you’re certain the stain is completely gone. Heat can set the stain, making it more challenging to remove.
  5. Repeat as Necessary: Stubborn stains may require multiple rounds of pre-treatment and washing. Be patient and persistent, and don’t give up after just one attempt.
  6. Professional Cleaning: If the stain persists despite your best efforts, consider taking the garment to a professional dry cleaner. They may have specialized techniques and solvents to tackle tough stains.
  7. Check After Each Washing: Always inspect the stained area after washing, but before drying. If the stain is still visible, refrain from drying the garment until the stain is completely gone.
  8. Preventative Measures: To avoid future brake fluid stains, wear protective clothing or coveralls when working on vehicles. Additionally, keep a rag or absorbent material nearby to quickly address any spills or splatters.
  9. Read the Care Label: Always follow the care instructions on your clothing’s label to ensure you use the appropriate water temperature and washing machine settings.
  10. Quick Action is Key: The faster you address the stain, the better chance you have of completely removing it. Don’t let the stained garment sit for an extended period without treatment.

Common Household Items

ItemPurposeStepsPrecautionsAdditional Tips
Dishwashing SoapLoosens grease and oil1. Apply soap directly to stain. 2. Rub fabric gently. 3. Rinse with cold water.Test on a hidden area.Repeat if needed.
Baking SodaAbsorbs the stain1. Sprinkle baking soda. 2. Let it sit for 15 minutes. 3. Scrub gently.Avoid rubbing too hard.Rinse thoroughly.
VinegarBreaks down the stain1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water. 2. Blot stain with the mixture. 3. Rinse with cold water.Check fabric compatibility.Wash as usual.
CornstarchAbsorbs grease and oil1. Apply cornstarch to the stain. 2. Let it sit for 30 minutes. 3. Brush off excess.Avoid using too much.Wash after treatment.
Rubbing AlcoholDissolves oil-based stains1. Dab stain with alcohol. 2. Blot gently. 3. Rinse with cold water.Test on a small area.Wash immediately.

Clothing Material Considerations

MaterialReaction to Brake FluidRecommended TreatmentAvoidSpecial Care
CottonAbsorbs fluid quicklyUse baking soda or dish soapExcessive scrubbing.Wash separately.
PolyesterResistant to stainsApply rubbing alcoholHot water.Rinse immediately.
DenimAbsorbs and holds stainsTry vinegar or cornstarchHarsh chemicals.Air dry to prevent heat.
WoolSoaks up stainsUse cornstarch or alcoholHot water.Gently blot, don’t rub.
SilkDelicate fabricUse rubbing alcoholExcessive agitation.Consult a professional.

Stain Removal Steps

Act QuicklyAddress the stain ASAPThe sooner, the better.Avoid spreading the stain.Blot, don’t rub.
Blot, Don’t RubDab the stain gentlyPrevents stain from setting.Use a clean cloth or paper towel.Patience is key.
Test FirstCheck fabric compatibilityApply a small amount of the chosen method on an inconspicuous area.Prevent further damage.Ensure no adverse reactions.
Rinse ThoroughlyRemove cleaning agentsRinse with cold water until residue is gone.Avoid hot water.Check stain before drying.
Repeat if NeededBe persistentSome stains may require multiple treatments.Avoid frustration.Give each treatment time.

Potential Hazards

HazardDescriptionPreventionActions to TakeSafety Tips
Skin IrritationContact with chemicalsWear gloves when handling brake fluid.Rinse affected area thoroughly.Seek medical attention if needed.
Fabric DamageHarsh treatmentBe gentle during stain removal.Consult a professional.Follow care labels.
Color FadingColor loss on clothingUse mild stain removal methods.Test on hidden area first.Follow garment care.
Inhalation RiskBreathing in fumesWork in a well-ventilated area.Avoid prolonged exposure.Use a mask if necessary.
Fire HazardBrake fluid is flammableKeep away from open flames.Store safely and away from heat sources.Handle with caution.

Professional Help

ServiceWhen to Seek AssistanceWhy Choose a ProConsiderationsFind a Local Expert
Dry CleanerStains won’t budgeSpecialized stain removal expertise.Cost and turnaround time.Online reviews or referrals.
Fabric SpecialistHigh-value garmentsPreservation of fabric integrity.Reputation and experience.Ask for recommendations.
Tailor or SeamstressDamaged clothingRepair and alterations.Skill level and expertise.Local directories or forums.
Cleaning ServiceExtensive or multiple stainsProfessional equipment.Services offered and pricing.Contact for estimates.
Clothing ExpertPrecious or vintage itemsTailored advice and care.Knowledge and credentials.Seek local experts


By following these additional tips and being persistent in your stain removal efforts, you can increase your chances of successfully getting brake fluid out of your clothes while preserving the fabric’s integrity. Remember that patience and careful handling are key when dealing with tough stains.


How to get brake fluid out of clothes

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