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Remove Grease Stains

Grease Stain Removal

The word “grease” brings a couple of images to mind.

  1. The famous musical/movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
  2. The marks you have on your hands when you frantically check your smoking engine.
  3. The drippings that result from last night’s delicious dinner.

Though we could go on for days about the famous legacy that number one has left on American musicals, the type of grease we’ll be looking at here refers to number two and number three: machinery grease and cooking grease.

What is Machinery Grease?

According to the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM), this machinery grease (also known as lubricating grease) is defined as: "A solid to semi fluid product of dispersion of a thickening agent in liquid lubricant. Other ingredients imparting special properties may be included."

Chemical Components of Machinery Grease
There are three major components in grease which cause the grease stains:

  • Oil
  • Thickener
  • Additives

The thickener holds the lubricant together, while the base oil and additives function as the major components of the grease. When this base oil is exposed to extreme temperatures, whether it’s a high or low temperature, grease that contains synthetic base oil generally provides better performance when used with industrial machinery.

Grease Stains: What’s In ‘Em?

When it comes to thickeners in grease stains, metallic soap is the type that’s most commonly found in machinery grease. More specifically, these soaps include:

  • Polyurea
  • Aluminum
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Lithium

Additives are included in grease to enhance positive properties and mask undesirable properties. When you look at grease stains, chances are you’re looking at grease that contains one of these five types of additives:

  • Antiwear
  • Rust inhibitors
  • Oxidation
  • Extreme pressure
  • Friction-reducing agents

So when you’re attempting to remove grease stains from any surface, you’re actually removing much more than grease; you’re removing a combination of chemicals that are mixed together to achieve one function, as noted on “the function of grease is to remain in contact with and lubricate moving surfaces without leaking out under gravity or centrifugal action, or be squeezed out under pressure.”

That’s apparently what you’re supposed to do when someone asks you to “put a little elbow grease into it!”

What is Cooking Grease?

When it comes time to remove grease stains, you probably will encounter some cooking grease in your home as well. Have you ever noticed that when you attempt do-it-yourself grease stain removal, it actually makes it even stickier?
One of the most common places that grease splashes is on the stovetop. This can be dried oil that splashes on your stovetop and then dries, which will undoubtedly leave a mark. To tackle grease stain removal in your kitchen, try these methods.

White Vinegar

  1. Take some white vinegar and pour it into a spray bottle. 
  2. Let the vinegar soak into the grease for a few minutes, then wipe the stain with a towel soaked in hot water. 

This should solve your grease stain removal issues in a matter of minutes.

Baking Soda Scrub - removing grease stains from carpet

Another grease stain removal technique to try on your kitchen’s stovetop involves using baking soda scrub. Take a damp kitchen sponge and cover it with a bit of baking soda. The baking soda isn’t harmful to your stove, and should gradually break up the grease stains.

For more detailed do-it-yourself methods to tackle grease stains at home, check out COIT’s guide to removing grease stains from carpet, as well as upholstery.