Oil is Oil – Or Is it?
Motor oil is not the same thing as cooking oil. Crude oil (motor oil) comes from the earth and is toxic if ingested. Cooking oil is typically squeezed, crushed, rendered, or otherwise extracted from various foods or plants, which we already eat. However, the real difference comes from the additives in either oils. Cooking oils receive things like antioxidants, so it doesn’t spoil or go rancid. Crude oil gets additives that increase viscosity and resistance to heat and pressure – making it even more unhealthy to eat.
Although new or unused motor oil is a little easier to clean up, used motor oil on your carpet presents a unique set of problems. It’s not just the oil you’re dealing with, but the pollutants and contaminants that it’s collected over time. With this in mind, we will present steps to remove used motor oil from your carpet. The same steps typically work with new motor oil as well.
How to Spot Clean Oil Spills
- Start with scraping up as much residue as you can with a spoon, knife, paper plate, or other tool. Be thorough – get up as much as you can now so it has less chance to affect the carpet. However, don’t take too much time, either, as what you can’t get up will start to set. And be careful not to use too much pressure removing the excess, as you might inadvertently press it down deeper into the pile.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the stain. Corn starch will do in a pinch. Let it remain in place for about 15 minutes so it can absorb as much as possible. Then, vacuum up the application with a handheld vacuum, if available. Don’t use a regular upright or canister vacuum, though – the brush or beater bar mechanism could pick up the residue and eventually smear or spread the stain into other places the next time you use it.
- Next, apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, as it breaks down the particles that hold the oil together. However, it can also break down the bonds between the carpet pile and the backing, so pour the alcohol onto a cloth instead of directly on the stain, and then blot the stain. Use a white cloth or white paper towels, as they will help you monitor how much of the stain is lifting out of the carpet.
- Avoid using parts of the cloths or towels that have brought up some of the stain. Always switch to a clean corner or a clean towel to ensure you can monitor how much of the stain is still coming up. If the cloth or towel is coming up clean, the alcohol has either done all it can or is not working.
- If the stain is still visible, mix together two cups of warm water, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of liquid hand soap (remember, no bleach or lanolin – they don’t play nice with carpet colors). Apply the mixture to a clean white cloth and blot onto the stain, working from the outside inward. Avoid rubbing, as this could work the stain deeper into the pile.
- Finally, cover the wet area with a clean clothes or paper towels, and put a weighted object on it. Leave it there for a few hours, and then check for dryness. When the spot has dried, carefully run a vacuum over it to remove any residue.
When the Stain Remains
If the stain still remains, don’t panic. A tough culprit like motor oil often requires bringing in some heavy-hitters, like Preferred Carpet Care. We have experience, equipment and cleaning solutions that motor oil simply can’t withstand. No matter how oily they get up in the morning, stains don’t get the slip past us!
Yes. We went there.
- Posted by Rod Barth
- On November 7, 2019