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Hey there car-enthusiast!
Looking how to clean accidentally spilled oil and oil smell out of your car trunk carpet?
Cleaning oil out of car carpets and gear oil out of regular carpets may be a daunting task, but really, it’s not difficult to do at all!
You can easily remove those stubborn stains by using dirt-cheap ingredients from the store or your kitchen.
How is it done? What are the best cleaning combos? Is there anything else you should keep in mind while cleaning those pesky stains?
Scroll, read, and follow this guide for best results!
Clean Out Oil of Car Trunk Carpet — 3 Proven Methods
Table of Contents
Why should you clean oil out of the trunk carpet?
A person isn’t a car enthusiast if they don’t love the smell of freshly spilled car oil!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Sawdust, sand, kitty litter, or floor dry
- Paper towel
- Isopropyl alcohol, gasoline, or any kitchen degreaser
- Upholstery brush
- Washing powder or dish soap
- Power washer or steam cleaner, and a vacuum cleaner
❗ You don’t need all of these ingredients since there are different methods of cleaning oil out of car carpets. And don’t worry, I’ll cover each of the methods in great detail.
This method is most common and used in heavy-duty stains like the one below 👇
Why bother in this case? Just drill the hole into the metal and let the oil drain away!
This method is best used when you have enormous to mid-size oil spill stains on your car trunk carpet. Emphasis on the enormous part—spills equal to getting the whole oil bottle onto your car carpet.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Mix sawdust with sand and spread it all over the oil spill.
- Wait several minutes for the sawdust-sand mixture to do its magic and absorb the oil.
- Vacuum the saturated sawdust-sand.
- Spray isopropyl alcohol all over the place where the spill used to be.
- Use a paper towel to clean the dissolved oil remains.
- For the final blow, steam-clean it with a steam cleaner.
👉 For better results, you can use FloorDry absorbent instead of kitty litter or sawdust-sand mixture.
Many professional mechanic shops use FloorDry to solve their spilled oil issues. It’s an eco-friendly solution that absorbs all kinds of spills, like a sponge.
DO NOT use vinegar or baking soda to clean oil stains on your car carpet!
You should only use baking soda when you want to neutralize a stain, like a battery acid one, not to absorb it. Vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent but doesn’t touch synthetic compounds from which many car oils have.
So that cleaning combo is ineffective in this case.
Cleaning oil stains out of car carpet boils down to two essential steps – absorbing the oil AND dissolving the oil compounds.
Did You Know?
You can also use flour instead of FloorDry or kitty litter. The flour is hygroscopic (absorbs water even better than sand) so it’s also a stunning oil absorber.
Spraying isopropyl over the oil-stained area will dissolve the oil. Dissolved oil is easier to absorb with a paper towel.
Pro Tip: By steam cleaning your trunk carpet, you’re removing even the tiniest oil stains.
High-temp water steam is like a Death Star to oil molecules. When it hits them, they get disintegrated. Like they were never there.
Use this method when you’re dealing with mid-size oil stains on your trunk carpet – accidentally flipped the oil bottle with a couple of spills.
Here’s what to do for getting rid of them:
- Use a paper towel to blot the oil out of the carpet.
- Remove the carpet out of your car.
- Mix a couple of dashes of dish soap with half of a gallon of water.
- Pour a bit of the cleaning mix onto your carpet.
- Use an upholstery brush to spread the dish soap mix over the oil stain and carpet.
- Wait a couple of minutes for the dish soap to degrease the oil.
- Use a power washer to clean your carpet thoroughly.
- Dry it out, and … VOILA! A brand-new-looking carpet!
Dish soap is a powerful degreaser in your kitchen. And it’s really cheap! It also contains powerful degreasing agents that won’t damage your car carpet. At the same, your carpet will smell fresh as if it went through a car wash.
But remember, dish cleaner can be used to degrease the oil, but you still have to get it out of your carpet. This is when a power washer comes in.
Cleaning it with a power washer, you’re removing the dish soap along with all the oil compounds it managed to decrease.
⚠️ The power washer develops some crazy water pressures. Always point it at your carpet, not anywhere else!
Even looking cool, this is how NOT to use a pressure washer!
Personally, this is my favorite method.
Use it when you’re dealing with small oil stains – stains that are just a couple of drops of oil.
Here’s how you do it:
- Pour a bit of kitty litter over the stain.
- Wait a couple of minutes for the kitty litter to do its magic.
- Vacuum the carpet.
- Pour an ounce of washing powder over the stains.
- Spray the washing powder with a bit of water.
- Use an upholstery brush to rub the washing powder into the carpet.
- If it dries out spray a bit more water.
- Rub it until the washing powder is fully dissolved and those tiny detergent flakes aren’t seen.
- For the final step, use the steam cleaner to clean the spot.
A 3in1 solution many detergents aspire to become and what degreasers envy!
Steam cleaning the spot, you’re removing all the dissolved washing powder and oil while keeping that sweet smell of the detergents washing powder contains.
Washing powder isn’t just all-mighty for cleaning oil out of car carpet, but also from your hands.
Sure, it will feel like rubbing gravel between your hands. But after washing them with washing powder, you can say GOODBYE to black nails and stained skin.
(I use washing powder with a pine or lavender smell, for the best effect.)
There’s just nothing like when you enter your car, and that scent of lavender hits you!
How to Get Gear Oil Out of Carpet – Key Oily Differences
The oil stain on the car carpet and the regular one isn’t the same!
The sticky oil is there, but the surface is different.
Let me explain: Regular carpet isn’t made to withstand the harsh conditions that car carpet lives through every day. The fabric materials used are different.
Textile mixed with nylon or polyester back-padding is used for weaving regular home carpets. Nylon fiber and polypropylene are used for making car carpets.
Notice the difference?
With regular carpets, you need to take it easy and be careful NOT to damage the carpet’s fiber.
Here’s how to do it with any damage:
- Blot the stain with paper towels.
- Pour a couple of dashes of dish soap on the stain.
- Dampen the area and spread the soap with an upholstery brush.
- Finish it up with steam cleaning. The cleaning pad on your steam cleaner will absorb the diluted dish soap with destroyed oil molecules.
Note: You can use kitty litter as the oil absorber, but that includes an extra step of vacuuming the whole carpet. Keep in mind though, there’ll be a good chance that some litter will get stuck between the fibers.
If you would notice, the steps listed above is a bit similar on Method #2 of how we clean out oil of car trunk carpet. Let me point out that the main difference is that you’re using just a small amount of dish soap. The last thing you want is to shampoo the whole carpet then wait for it to dry out for hours (or days!).
Not satisfied with the results? Grab an oven degreaser. Trust me, it works WONDERS. No grease and oils can withstand the power of Greased Lightning!
(Get the catchiness – cleaning grime super fast, like it’s greased)
How to Clean Gear Oil Out of Carpet (Even the Toughest Has a Weak Spot)
There’s a fundamental difference between engine oil and gear oil. Those differences enormously affect the way they are cleaned out of any carpet.
Engine oil is thinner, and gear oil is thicker.
Explaining why and how SAE codes matter, in that case, will be on a whole new Charlie-crazy level and would be far too much for this article.
In case you want to know more about SAE codes, here you go!
For the sake of keeping it simple, here’s what you need to clean the gear oil out of your car carpet:
- Paper towels
- Injector cleaner
- Vinegar mixed with lemon juice
- Steam cleaner
Instead of using a detergent or any other heavy-duty degreaser, you’re using an injector cleaner for this task.
Injector cleaner contains PEA (Polyether Amine) – a chemical compound dissolving carbon in gear oil. Aim for injector cleaners where PEA is an active compound, with a clear label.
Do NOT go for PIBA (Polyisobutylene Amine). It won’t do you any good. PIBA is great at destroying clogs inside fuel injectors but not so great at getting rid of carbon molecules in gear oil.
Here’s how to clean gear oil out of car carpet:
- Let the paper towel absorb the gear oil.
- Mix two ounces of injector cleaner into 1/4 gallon of water.
- Apply the mix onto the oil stain.
- Rub it in with an upholstery brush.
- Use the paper towel again to absorb the dissolved gear oil .
- Repeat the process.
- Steam clean the area.
👉 For the injector cleaner to be effective, dilute it with water.
Just pouring the injector cleaner right out of the bat onto the gear oil won’t do you much good.
Notice how kitty litter and a vacuum cleaner aren’t used?
Gear oil is thicker than the regular one. Mixing kitty litter and thick oil creates gunk that’s devastating for your vacuum cleaner.
You don’t want a blown-up vacuum cleaner besides that ugly-looking-stinky-smelling oil stain on your carpet. Right?
How to Get Gear Oil Smell Out of Carpet (Without Selling Your Car)
Thought gear oil is hard to clean?
Cleaning its smell is even harder (but not impossible)!
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Remove the car carpet out of the vehicle
- Put it into the trash bag and throw it away
- If the smell has gone into the seats and upholstery wait for the winter and sell your car
Gear oil smell is weakest in the winter, so the future buyer won’t even notice it until the summer heat strikes.
Gear oil makes even the toughest stomaches gag and pukes. It’s that strong. But thankfully, there are already-available ingredients in your kitchen cabinet powerful enough to neutralize it.
Before doing this cleaning method, clean the gear oil stain first with PEA Injector Cleaner.
Injector Cleaner cleans the oil stain, and vinegar-lime juice cleans the gear oil and injector cleaner smell.
Notice the workflow?
(Injector cleaners aren’t also peachy to smell)
After cleaning the gear oil stain, here’s how you get rid of the gear oil smell:
- Mix three ounces of vinegar with an ounce of lemon or lime juice in water.
- Spray the cleaning mix over the gear oil stain.
- Try to go underneath the carpet and spray the cleaning mix onto the carpet’s back pad.
- Before spraying the mix, it’s wise to clean the gear oil with a paper towel if it got all the way through.
- Spray it one more time on the top of the carpet.
- Rub it with an upholstery brush.
- Steam clean the carpet.
The trick with gear oil is it oftentimes penetrates the carpet all through the carpet’s back padding and onto the floor. That’s why you need to go underneath it.
💡 You can put essential oil into your steam cleaner for an amplified effect. The essential oil will purge the leftover smell and fill the room with a comfy fragrance.
Get Rid of That Gear Oil Smell (Part 2)
In this case, hit it with all your cleaning might!
If you DO NOT clean the gear oil smell out of the car carpet before the summer heat, you’re in deep trouble. Then, be ready to drive with cotton balls in your nose.
Here’s how you get gear oil smell out of your carpet:
- Try to remove as much car carpet as possible, including floor mats.
- Wipe the oil clean from the metal – use isopropyl or acetone in this case.
- Leave all three or five car doors opened.
- Use injector cleaner to get rid of the oil on the removed car carpet.
- Put several dashes of dish soap onto the carpet.
- Dampen it with water.
- Rub it with an upholstery brush.
- Pressure wash it.
- Flip it to the other side and repeat the process.
- Leave it out to dry.
- If you can still smell the gear oil on a dried carpet, repeat the whole process again.
DO NOT let the smell of gear oil go into the car’s upholstery — the amount of work will increase ten folds!
After the carpet has dried, you can go and steam clean it. No such oil compound can withstand the steam heat of a steam cleaner.
Things They Don’t Tell You When Cleaning Oil and Gear Oil Out of Carpet
Cleaning engine oil and gear oil out of car carpets and regular carpets requires different ingredients and techniques.
But NEVER use gasoline to clean engine oil nor gear oil out of the regular carpet!
Gasoline is a powerful degreaser, but when it evaporates, it leaves a nasty smell that’s a challenge on its own to clean. You want to get rid of smells, not add them more.
You’ll also probably hear that WD40 is an all-mighty oil degreaser for oil stains on your carpet. That’s a HALF-TRUTH!
WD40 is a power degreaser and rust-destroyer, but I won’t go anywhere near my carpet with it. WD40 also has a strong-almost-like-lemon-juice smell that stays in the fabric. Plus, when WD40 evaporates, it leaves a strong whiteish stain circle requiring more cleaning.
Not every steam cleaner is fit for the getting rid of oil stains and smells job. And not every steam cleaner can fit into your car and are compact enough for tiny underneath the seat areas.
Little Green is the perfect portable steam cleaner that’s compact and lightweight enough for your car. It has enough ‘muscles’ to tackle the most challenging engine and gear oil stains and smells.
(I’m talking about those SAE 20w-60 kinds.)
So, In Summary…
Engine oil is a gear oil is some nasty stuff to clean out of your carpet. Gasoline is an option, but it has a strong smell.
The best way of getting rid of engine oil stains is to use a degreaser, isopropyl, or dish soap. Be careful when going in with a degreaser, some contain harsh chemicals damaging to the carpet’s fiber.
An excellent way of getting rid of gear oil is using an injector cleaner with PEA. A chemical compound destroys carbon compounds inside the gear oil and makes it easier to clean.
When it comes to oil smell removal, go hard on the dish soap or washing powder.
Trick: When removing gear oil smell out of car carpet, clean both sides of it, including the metal underneath. If the gear smell has gone into the upholstery, spray vinegar-lemon cleaning mix with steam cleaning at the end.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can gasoline clean oil out of car trunk carpet?
Yes, gasoline is a powerful degreaser but comes with a huge flaw.
It has a strong fragrance not everyone likes to smell, and when that summer heat strikes, it’s like gasoline hell in the car cabin
Does cleaning oil out of car trunk carpet require dangerous chemicals?
Oil stains and smells are effortlessly removed by using basic ingredients from your kitchen. Ingredients like dish soap, kitty litter, vinegar, lemon juice, oven degreaser, etc.
Sure, it requires a bit of manual scrubbing, but your carpet will NOT get damaged during the cleaning process.