Whether you’re a commuter or a hardcore road cyclist, grease stains can happen to the best of us. But while it can be incredibly frustrating to stain your expensive jersey or favorite pair of jeans, a grease spot doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your clothing for good if you do your laundry the right way.
Use these tips to remove those tough spots from your cycling gear and prevent them from occurring in the first place.
One of the most important steps in preventing a stain is to get rid of it before it sets into your clothing. Since most grease stains happen out on the road when you’re away from your washing machine, carrying a few degreaser wipes in your jersey pockets for emergencies can be a huge help. Simply use the wipes to remove grease and oil from your clothing as soon as it’s soiled.
If the grease is on your hands or bike, use the wipes to clean these grease spots immediately, too. Most grease spots occur from the leg of your shorts rubbing a spot of grease on the frame or from wiping a greasy hand on your jersey. For this reason, once you’ve completed your roadside repair, clean your hands, handlebars, seat and any other noticeable spots your body may come into contact with before you hop back on in order to prevent unnecessary stains from occurring. At home, any other degreaser you have on hand does the trick, too.
If you have a grease stain from your ride, don’t toss the items in the laundry basket to deal with later. Instead, tackle the problem as soon as you can to prevent the stains from setting. Your best bet before tossing them in the wash is to pretreat the stains ASAP.
Dishwashing liquid — particularly one that fights grease — is a great option for pretreating. Put a small amount on the spot and work the soap into the fabric with an old toothbrush. If this doesn’t work, make a paste with dish soap, water and a little bit of baking soda and scrub this into the fabric. Let this sit for 5 minutes before rinsing in cold water. Hang dry, keeping an eye on the spot. If it’s still there, you can reapply your paste or try an alternative like oxygen bleach, which is environmentally safe and can be used on colored clothing.
Covering a grease stain in baking soda or cornstarch and leaving it overnight to absorb the grease from your clothing is another method to try.
Once the stain is gone, you can wash the garment normally. If, after washing, you notice the stain reappear, repeat the steps above. Soaking your garment in oxygen bleach overnight is an option for stains that have already set.
While you probably don’t want to use the dryer on technical cycling clothing, remember that using the dryer on any clothing with grease spots makes it nearly impossible to remove a stain afterward. Always hang dry and repeat the washing process, which increases your success rate.
While some tough spots will be difficult to remove no matter what, you can always do a few things to prevent grease spots from happening in the first place. Since the majority of grease on your bike is from your drivetrain, keeping your chain clean is your Number 1 method for preventing stains.
Clean your chain after every ride by wiping it down with an old rag to remove any grease and grime you’ve picked up on the road. When your chain is dirty or squeaks when you pedal, use a degreaser to clean your chain and reapply a fresh coat of chain lube. Remember that excess chain lube attracts more dirt and grime. A light coat is all you need, and any excess should be removed prior to storage.
Grease stains from roadside repairs are hard to prevent, but when you’re at home a shop apron can help keep your clothing free of unnecessary stains. It’s also a good idea to change out of your expensive cycling gear into old clothing before attempting any repairs on your bike in the garage.
If you’re particularly prone to grease stains, opt for dark-colored cycling clothing instead of that neat looking white jersey. While it isn’t actual prevention, black clothing won’t show grease stains, causing you fewer headaches with the laundry.