How to Clean Motor Oil Spill in Car

You unknowingly stepped in an oil spill while filling your gas tank at the gas station. When you got back into the car, that motor oil transferred from your shoes to your car’s carpeting. Or as you checked the oil level under the hood, you got some oil on your sleeve and then got into the car and now there is an oil stain on the seat. What are some of the best ways to remove a stubborn oil stain or spill from inside your car?

Carpet or Cloth Seats Method 1:

  1. Use a plastic or metal flat blade tool, like a scrapper of knife, to gently scoop up any excess oil.
  2. Then blot the remaining stain with a paper towel or a clean cloth or rag.
  3. Using a small amount of baking soda, apply it to the stain and allow it to dwell for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the baking soda with either a soft brush or a vacuum. (this entire process may have to be repeated if the spill involved a large volume of oil)
  5. If any stain still remains, use a dry cleaning solvent and a clean cloth. Apply small amounts of the cleaner at a time and gently blot the stain with the cloth. Don’t aggressively rub at the stain, use a blotting action only.


Carpet or Cloth Seats Method 2:

  1. Start by using a scraping blade to remove any excess oil.
  2. Spray the stain with WD-40 using enough product to re-wet the stain.
  3. Using a dish soap that is good on greasy dishes, like Dawn, pour the dish soap on the stain. Use a cloth or a soft bristle brush to work the dish soap into the stain. (again, don’t apply too much force – be gentle)
  4. Blot the area with a paper towel or clean cloth. The oil stain should absorb into the towel or cloth.
  5. Apply water to the area and gently blot with a paper towel or cloth to remove any leftover dish soap. Repeat as necessary.


Removing Oil From Leather Seats and Interiors

(Always test any leather-cleaning product in an inconspicuous area before proceeding.)

  1. Vacuum the area to remove any abrasive materials that may scour or scratch the leather surfaces.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth to gently blot the oil. Microfiber is very absorbent.
  3. Use a non-toxic cleaning product to clean the area. Two of the best are Meguiar G109016 Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner and CarGuys Super Cleaner
  4. Dip or wet a microfiber cloth with the cleaning product and gently apply it to the oil stain.
  5. Gently work the solution into the stain. You can also use a soft-bristle toothbrush to do this.
  6. Wipe away any excess cleaning product.

It’s Not As Bad As It Seems

Oil spills and stains in our cars are fairly common. We accidentally get oil on our clothes or shoes and the next thing you know, we transfer the oil to our car’s interior. Like any other type of stain, quick action and the right technique makes it much easier to remove.