Folks, I have semi-successfully solved the age-old wrenching problem of stains on clothing. While I’m not sure this is the most genius idea I’ve ever devised, I am certain that it is among the dumbest.

As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I blew up my engine. After removing the grenaded motor, I started tearing it apart to get a glimpse of some carnage. In the process, a rogue drop of used 10W-30 slid off the bottom of a catch pan and landed squarely on my favorite pair of “fly kicks.”


In horror, I hastened to the sink and grabbed my handy-dandy stain removal tool, but as much as I rubbed, the stubborn oil blotch remained prominent. Unwilling to spend coveted wrenching money on new shoes, I sat down in my thinking chair and concocted a plan so utterly genius, it’s fit for its own episode of Dexter’s Lab.

Why remove the stain when you can just hide it?

Fixing My Shoes

Now, you could argue that maybe I shouldn’t have been wearing my favorite shoes while wrenching. I have no counter argument: you’re completely right. But, I’m notorious for being too impatient to change into wrenching clothes. Back when I worked for a big company and had to wear clothing other than the Winnie The Pooh onesie I’m currently rockin’, I used to accidentally show up to work in oil-stained dress-shirts.


I once made a presentation to some top-brass and, in the middle of my slideshow, the lead engineer started brushing my shoulder. I was a bit confused. “You’ve got something on your shirt,” he said. I looked and said “Yeah, that’s an oil stain. It won’t come off.” He stopped. Awkwardness ensued.

So yes, I wore these shoes when I shouldn’t have and I stained them. But my solution worked wonders. I simply dabbed used oil over the shoes, then dried them off with a paper towel.

Have a look at the results; the left shoe is the oily shoe, and the right one is stock from the factory. The picture at the top of this section shows the final product, and it looks damn good, if I do say so myself.

But then I thought, why stop there? What about that stained dress shirt that later became a wrenching shirt? Could that be saved? What about my favorite hideous orange pants? Could those be resurrected from the deep pits of my “wrenching clothes” drawer?

I had to find out.

Staining My Clothes

You know those Texas Dirt Shirts that are basically just white tees dipped in the Red River? Those look pretty darned good, so why couldn’t I apply the same idea and hide the oil stains in my clothes? I decided to give it a try; here’s what I did:

Step 1: Dab Used Motor Oil All Over The Clothes

I used 3,000 mile 10W-30 from my blown engine. It had a nice, dark hue: just what I needed.

Step 2: Wring Those Bad-Boys Out As Much As Possible

I would recommend gloves for this step. And maybe a doctor, because you’ll need a bunch of patience— that oil seemed to never stop dripping from the shirt.

Step 3: Wash The Oil Out Of The Clothes

I didn’t want to wash these oily clothes in my washing machine, mostly because I didn’t want to contaminate my local water table and because I didn’t want my washing machine to forevermore be covered in oil. So I washed the clothes by hand in a bucket of water, which I now have to dispose of in a responsible, environmentally conscious way.

Step 4: Put Clothes In The Dryer, Pray It Doesn’t Blow Up

I won’t lie: even after hand-washing the clothes, they were still pretty darned oily. So I broke out the fire extinguisher just in case the dryer decided to blow up. While we here at Jalopnik usually abide by the “safety third” rule, I figured just this one time I’d try to prevent my house from burning to the ground.

There were no explosions, though my dryer will never be clean again.


For an idea this idiotic, I was surprised at how well it turned out. The dress shirt turned out great. It started out light grey and clearly oil-stained, and ended up with a uniform khaki look.

Dress Shirt







Orange Pants

The orange pants turned out well, too. At least I think they did, but what would I know about fashion?—I bought a pair of orange pants. The pants went from a light orange color to a more burnt orange (Hook ‘em?) hue.






In the spirit of the Texas Dirt Shirt, I decided to try my method on a white tee, and it also looks much better post oil-bath. There are still some stains visible, but they’re a lot more obscured.



Drawbacks And Benefits

So it looks like my “Why solve the problem when you can hide it?” approach worked out okay. The clothes look much better and there’s the added benefit that they’re now water resistant, since oil is hydrophobic. Genius, right? Well, sort of.

And by “sort of,” I mean “not at all.”

The clothes still smell heavily like used motor oil. Though, if you’re like me and you smell like used motor oil anyway, that might not be such a big deal. There’s also the bit about the health effects of used oil touching your skin for prolonged periods. I’m not sure if that’s a big problem, but there’s a nonzero chance that wearing this garb will reduce your lifespan by at least a few years.

Not to mention, when it rains, oily water will drip off your clothes and kill the rest of the world’s baby seal population. I also have to figure out what to do with this big bucket of contaminated water I used to try to clean the oil out of clothes. And I have a dryer that’s coated in nasty gunk.

So really, this was the dumbest idea ever. Though I’m totally rocking those shoes.

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