How to get motor oil out of carpet

Domestic dirt

We’ve all been there: A momentary lapse in concentration and suddenly there’s a dreaded motor oil stain glaring at you from your pristine carpet. It feels like a disaster, right? But fear not, for I’ve got your back. Whether it’s from that DIY project or a slip of the hand while changing the oil in your lawnmower, I’m here to guide you through two effective methods to get that stubborn stain out. Before we dive in, let’s gather our essentials.

You Will Need:

  1. Baking soda or cornstarch
  2. A soft brush or an old toothbrush
  3. Paper towels or absorbent paper
  4. An iron (yes, the one you press your clothes with!)
  5. Rubbing alcohol
  6. A clean cloth or sponge
  7. Vacuum cleaner
  8. Patience (trust me on this one)

Method 1: Baking Soda/Cornstarch Technique

  1. Blot, Don’t Rub: If the oil spill is fresh, gently blot up as much as you can using a clean cloth. Remember, rubbing will only spread the stain further.
  2. Sprinkle Away: Generously cover the stain with baking soda or cornstarch. These natural absorbents will suck out the oil from the carpet fibers.
  3. Wait It Out: Let the baking soda or cornstarch sit on the stain for at least 15-20 minutes. For deeper stains, leaving it overnight is recommended.
  4. Vacuum: Vacuum up the baking soda or cornstarch. You should see a noticeable difference in the stain’s appearance.
  5. Repeat: If the stain persists, repeat the process until it’s gone.

Method 2: Paper, Iron, and Alcohol Technique

  1. Blot First: Just as in the first method, blot up any fresh oil.
  2. Prepare The Scene: Place a paper towel or absorbent paper over the stain.
  3. Iron Away: Set your iron to a warm setting (not too hot) and gently iron over the paper. This will transfer the oil from the carpet to the paper.
  4. Alcohol Time: Dampen a cloth with a bit of rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stained area. The alcohol will break down any remaining oil.
  5. Rinse and Dry: Dab the area with a water-dampened cloth to remove any alcohol residue and then pat dry.

Remember, the older the stain, the more difficult it is to remove. Old machine oil stains harden – this makes cleaning more difficult, so methods that effectively get rid of fresh stains may be powerless.

If the machine oil has been absorbed and dried – before treatment, gently scrape the contaminated area with a spatula, plasticine stick or any other object with a blunted thin edge. By breaking the integrity of the top layer of the stain, you will scrub the dirt faster.

Take into account the composition of the carpet from which you are removing traces of machine oil. Synthetics tolerate wet cleaning and moderate thermal exposure to hot water or steam. Wool, cotton and linen need more careful treatment: they can be soaked, but not with hot water, and after cleaning they need thorough drying. Viscose or natural silk and handmade wool carpets should be dry-cleaned immediately – attempting to clean them at home is likely to damage the pile or warp.

3 Commercially Suitable Cleaning Products

  1. WD-40: Known for its lubricating properties, it can also be used as a stain remover. Just spray a little on the stain, wait, and blot.
  2. Goo Gone: A popular cleaner that’s great for sticky, gummy, and greasy stains.
  3. OxiClean: This versatile stain remover can work wonders on a variety of stains, including motor oil.


Motor oil stains on your carpet are undeniably a bummer, but with a little patience and the right techniques, they don’t stand a chance. Remember to always test a small, inconspicuous area of your carpet first before applying any solutions to ensure no discoloration occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use any type of alcohol for method 2?
It's best to use rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol as they are effective solvents for oil-based stains.
Is cornstarch as effective as baking soda?
Both are natural absorbents, but the effectiveness can vary based on the carpet type and the age of the stain. It’s a good idea to try both and see which works best for you.
Can these methods be used on colored carpets?
Yes, but always do a patch test first to ensure no discoloration occurs.
What if I don't have an iron?
You can try method 1 or use a hairdryer on a warm setting as a substitute.
How often can I repeat these methods?
As many times as needed until the stain is gone. But ensure you are gentle to prevent any damage to your carpet.
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