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Getting vacuum oil out of clothing

I know this sounds like a question for a household help forum. I’m
trusting that if anyone might know the answer to this, it will be
someone on Orchid.

My husband caused a major event with my vacuum table while he was
changing the oil in it the other day. He accidentally turned the
machine on while the fill hole was open.

Used oil fountained out of the fill hole and went all over my shop,
much of it dripping back down onto him after hitting the ceiling. I’ll
be finding oil in my shop.until doomsday, and I’m not at all sure how
to hide the huge oil stain above the machine if we ever put the house
on the market… but I’ll worry about that then.

More immediate problem, my husband had on brand new khaki pants and
one of his nicer sweaters.

Does anyone know what will remove large quantities of vacuum oil
from clothes?

Oh–and this same incident also oil-coated 25 of my casting flasks,
which were on a table right next to the vacuum machine. I put them
through a burnout cycle to get the grease out of them, and they look
clean, but I don’t trust my eyes. I’m afraid that oil residue I’m not
seeing might contaminate the next batch of investment.

Are they OK to use now or should I clean them again some other way?

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

Hi Kathy:

I think you’re hosed, at least as far as the clothes go. I’ve gotten
splashes of vac oil out of jeans by just soaking in soapy water,
rinsing and repeating, but that wasn’t for the type of soaking
you’re describing. I’ll share a secret though: ultrasonic cleaners.
I’ve gotten soy- sauce & blood (not at the same time) out of kakis by
dunking the area into the ultrasonic, and letting it run for 15-20
minutes. Just using my standard buffing-compound remover solution. I
imagine a more ‘appropriate’ solution would probably do a better job.
If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, I don’t think you’ve got much to
loose by experimenting.

As far as the flasks go, if you got them above 1260, there’s no
carbon left on them, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Vac oil has some weird stuff in it, but it shouldn’t survive that. If
you’re really concerned, get some scotchbright pads or wheels on the
buffer, and have at the inside of your flasks. If you get through the
oxide coat, and back down to bare metal, you’ve removed anything that
could possibly have been there. (overkill in my view, but it is the
ultimate ‘yeah, it’s gone.’)

For the ceiling? Replace the sheetrock when you move. If it’s your
studio, you’re going to have to gut it anyway. Don’t worry about it

The good news, such as it is, is that the whole thing that makes vac
oil special is that it’s designed to have a very low vapor pressure.
Which means that the oil that’s hiding in the corners isn’t going to
be outgassing weird and unpleasant substances into your shop. It’s
messy and nasty, but it’s not actively contaminating your air.


Does anyone know what will remove *large* quantities of vacuum oil
from clothes? 

Having had to work with HVAC systems and the oil used, I’ve danced
this dance. If he really got pasted, the best you might hope for is
for the clothes to be wearable, they will probably never look
"presentable" again.

Start by getting some cheap powder like talc or cornstarch. Use as
much of that on the fabric as it takes to get the worst of the oil

When it stops taking up oil, shake the powder out. Next give it a
good long presoak in a solution of cheap shampoo (the kind with no
conditioners or other helpful compounds). Finally, wash it in as hot
a water as the fabric allows (alone, you don’t want to transfer the
oil to other items). Before you put them in the dryer, look them over
carefully. If the stains aren’t out enough, wash them again. Anything
left after the second wash is probably for good.

For the ceiling, if it really saturated the drywall/plaster: you
will probably have to have that patch replaced with new material.
This stuff will even bleed through the oil based stain block primers.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL

Hi Kathy,

Costco sells a wonderful product called “Oil Eater”. It’s in the
auto section. I’ve been using it for several years as a pre-wash spot
cleaner on washable clothes, salvageable rags, etc. (it helps to
keep Ruth from telling everybody that I’m still a little boy who just
loves playing in the dirt!). It’s very irritating on my skin however,
so I use rubber gloves if I have to touch it. In general, oils and
greases wash out completely. You could also use it on your machinery,
bench top, floor, etc; rinse it up with water very generously and
throw all the rags in the washing machine.

Dr. Mac

I am consatntly getting oils of all kinds on my clothing. "Shout"
and “Zout” work like a charm, every time. Spray on the area, wash in
cold water, voila! Amazing stuff.


I have found that a generous application of glycerin rubbed
in/on/under/over the oil/grease stain works wonders, when then washed
with one’s regular laundry detergent. I have no experience with vac.
oil though…just three “gear head” sons.


Hi All;

I’ve had pretty good results removing oil and other stubborn, oil
based stains from clothing by rubbing waterless handcleaner, such as
"Go-Jo", into the area and letting it set for a day, then washing it.
I do my own laundry, and I like “Shout” for spot pre-cleaning stains.

I’m very fond of “Dickies” pants and shirts to work in the shop.
Very affordable and tough as nails. I have to make sure I don’t match
the pants color with that of the shirt or my 14 year old daughter,
our resident member of the special forces fashion-police unit,
harasses me for looking like “a UPS driver”.

David L. Huffman

If vaccum oil is anything like motor oil just not as dirty as used
motor oil then here’s the solution. It sounds crazy but it works!!! I
got dirty motor oil off a dirty shirt with NO evidence that it had
ever been there. First you rub lard, yes that grease that your
grandmother used to cook. It is similar to Crisco but not the same so
use the lard. After you let it sit on the fabric a bout 15 minutes,
add a degreasing kitchen soap like Dawn and scrub a little to work it
into the lard. Rinse out some of the soap so it doesn’t over suds in
the washer. Add regular detergent and was as usual. It’s ruined
anyway so how bad could the lard be?

Hve a great experience doing the laundry8-}
Barbara in Norfolk