I commute to work, and often wear my khakis on the ride in. As such, my clothes often get chain grease on them. What products or cleaning strategies do you know that work to remove chain grease from clothes?

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    You shouldn't -- chain grease is quite stylish. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 3:11
  • Buy new clothes. :) Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 4:23

8 Answers 8


There is a lot of sense to @Neil Fein's 'get used to it' attitude as, with some garments, you are just not going to get the oil out. 'Prevention is better than cure' definitely applies, but we are past that, aren't we...

In the office environment you have tea making facilities, including a sink with some washing up liquid and maybe some disposable hand-towels. Put the washing up liquid on the affected area neat, without water. Make yourself a brew whilst it soaks into the fabric. Now dab out what you can with a damp cloth and get it dry with the hand towels. This will remove the stuff that has not ingrained in yet and stop it spreading, e.g. to cross-contaminate your other leg.

When it comes to the wash you can apply an 'oxy' stain remover spray to the affected area before popping it into the machine. The active ingredient in 'oxy' is tetraacetylethylenediamine (TAED) and this enables bleaches in normal washing powders to work at 40 degrees (so no boil wash needed). Now add biological washing powder to the machine and put it on the 40 degrees wash cycle. The 'biological' enzymes for removing grease in such powders only work effectively at 40 degrees, so, with TAED and the enzymes working away on your stain (that has already had the excess removed) you can effectively get your clothes clean with minimal effort.

Swarfega hand cleaner is something you may also want to look into getting - this stuff is brilliant for cleaning hands and clothing alike. Again you put the stuff on raw without water, then wash it off once done.

'Prevention is better than cure', so make sure your chain is clean and lightly oiled. A heavily oiled chain collects dirt and it is this dirt that does the damage. You can also investigate getting a wax lubed chain as that copes with dirt better. If you run hub gears or single speed you may also want to consider using one of those 'rustless' chains that has a special coating and does not need oil.

Hope that helps!

  • Ah, no, I never said "get used to it". I gave the asker two ways to get grease out, and only then wrote about prevention. But yeah, grease stains do happen. Particularly when you don't notice the one on the back of your pants until doing laundry. Great point about using the kettle for hot water, I never thought of that one. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 6:04
  • Oops! 'expect it' attitude! Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 7:33
  • You might want to add a note about rolling up your pant leg to avoid the brunt of chain grease. Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 4:24

Most ordinary baby wipes will get grease out of clothing if you get to the stain quickly enough - or, at least, get enough of it out that the rest will later wash out. You can also carry spray-n-wash pads or keep them in your desk at work. However, baby wipes are also good for cleaning your hands - handy after changing a flat, or fiddling with a bike chain.

However, it's even better to avoid getting grease on your clothes to begin with, so I suggest using a pants clip or rolling your right pants leg up. A full chainguard is great for this, but it's not always practical on a commuter bike. This won't prevent the problem completely, bit it does help minimize it.

For these reasons, I found that when I was commuting, I tended to favor my black or dark-colored pants.

  • Yep, pants clips/straps can work wonders. Or you can even wear a sort of gaiter that protects the pant leg. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 11:40
  • What works even better than pants clips and straps is a panier. Put your work clothes in there, and bicycle to work is proper cycling attire. Change your clothes when you get to the office either in your office (if you can close the door), or in the washroom. The handicapped stall works well if you have to change in the washroom.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 18:06
  • With my most recent grease experience I was wearing a leg strap, but I leaned just a little too much one way and got a nice tattoo. Luckily I'll be switching to winter commuting on my mountain bike, which has a cassette guard that should help a bit. Thanks! Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 21:28
  • Maybe you could use a gaiter, like @Daniel mentioned. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 21:51
  • @Kibbee -- Yep, the best way to keep the grease off your fancy work clothes is to not wear them. Also avoids the problem of getting all sweaty in the clothes. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 22:24

Ordinary degreaser you can get at Walmart or grocery stores will remove bike chain grease from clothes and car seats.


I've generally used Swarfega (the standard green variety). As well as being great for getting hands clean it works on my jeans before they go into the wash. You just rub it in before you put them into the wash.

Pot of Swarfega


Vanish grease remover from vanish.co.uk will do the job very well, just get to it as soon as you notice it.


I was an automotive mechanic for quite a few years, yes I did get quite greasy when young and dumb, I used Naptha to get the grease out of my jeans, worked well, but it did make the washer a bit smelly, I Kept some naptha in a spray bottle, I sprayed the grease spots right before washing and used extra soap. This worked quite well for many years. There were only a few "stains" it did not get out over the years, but I think this was other contaminants besides oil and grease, but it always removed the grease completely.

I never experienced any negative side effects for the washing machine besides the after smell.


I use a combination of chain degreaser (hey it works good on the chain right) and Fels Naptha soap.


To prevent grease from getting on your pants leg to begin with on the commute, I'd suggest using those straps to hold your pants legs from flapping around. They're usually available at the LBS. To remove any grease, you could keep a small spray bottle of Simple Green at work, mixed at the strength you want, and just slightly wet the grease stain and then dab on the Simple Green and work it in.

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