Actually, this works for all oils and stains. I’ve only lost one pair of pants to biking-related stains in almost a year of riding and wrenching in work clothes, and that was my fault for riding home in a torrential down-pour without fenders clad in very light khaki pants. If anyone knows how to get road tar out of clothing, I would love to hear about it.
1. Mix clear, no-dye added dish detergent with cold water (about 1:5 ratio). You don’t need very much.
2. Rub this into the stain. I use my fingernails to really work it into the clothing. The sooner you attack the grease, the better your chances of success!
3. Spray stain with enzyme stain remover.* I use Zout, which seems to work well. I’m sure it’s horrible for the environment. I have decided that ruining clothing and having to buy new things is more horrible for the environment.
4. Let sit the amount of time prescribed on the stain remover bottle.
5. Launder in cold water. Line dry. If you tumble dry clothing that the stain did not completely come out of, it will probably set it and make it permanent.
Clearly, this only works for washable items. I have heard that for very stubborn stains you can try dissolving the oil in mineral spirits prior to step one. Perhaps this is the solution to future road tar incidences. I’ll let you know if I get a chance to try it!
If steps 1 through 5 fail, try your local dry cleaner. Mine got bike grease out of a tan Smartwool sweater than I had given up on.
*Do not use enzyme stain remover on merino wool! Do not even put merino in the same load of laundry as the enzyme stain remover! Thanks to Carissa for this very important tip. Also, check out the comments for more helpful advice from experienced cyclists!