How to Get Transmission Fluid Out of Clothes

Dealing with transmission fluid stains on your clothes can be a frustrating and challenging experience. Transmission fluid is a thick, greasy substance used in automatic transmissions to lubricate and transfer power from the engine to the wheels. When it comes into contact with fabric, it can leave stubborn stains that are difficult to remove. However, with the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can effectively remove transmission fluid stains from your clothes and restore them to their original condition.

How to Get Transmission Fluid Out of Clothes

The Transmission Fluid Stains

Before we delve into the methods for removing transmission fluid stains, it’s essential to understand the nature of these stains. Transmission fluid is primarily composed of petroleum-based oils and additives, making it a greasy and viscous substance. These properties allow the fluid to effectively lubricate and protect the transmission components, but they also make the stains challenging to remove from fabrics.

When transmission fluid comes into contact with clothing, it can quickly penetrate the fibers and set in, making it harder to remove the longer it sits. Additionally, the heat generated by the transmission can cause the fluid to bond with the fabric, further complicating the stain removal process.

Common Fabrics Affected by Transmission Fluid Stains

While transmission fluid stains can occur on any type of fabric, some materials are more susceptible to staining than others. Here are a few examples of fabrics that are commonly affected by transmission fluid stains:

  • Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber that can easily absorb and hold onto transmission fluid stains.
  • Polyester: Synthetic fabrics like polyester can also become stained by transmission fluid, and the stains can be particularly challenging to remove due to the tighter weave of the material.
  • Silk: Delicate fabrics like silk can be easily damaged by the chemicals and solvents used to remove transmission fluid stains, so extra care must be taken when treating stains on these materials.

Pre-Treatment for Fresh Stains

If you’ve recently gotten transmission fluid on your clothes, it’s crucial to act quickly to prevent the stain from setting in. Here are the steps you should follow for pre-treating fresh transmission fluid stains:

  1. Blot the stain: As soon as possible, use a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel to blot the stain gently. Avoid rubbing or pressing too hard, as this can spread the stain and push it deeper into the fabric.
  2. Apply a pre-treatment solution: There are several pre-treatment solutions you can use, depending on the materials you have on hand:
    • Dish soap: Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water to create a mild solution. Gently dab the solution onto the stain using a clean cloth or sponge.
    • Laundry detergent: Apply a small amount of laundry detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush.
    • Stain remover: Use a commercial stain remover designed for grease and oil stains. Follow the product instructions carefully.
  3. Let it sit: After applying the pre-treatment solution, allow it to sit on the stain for at least 15-30 minutes. This will give the solution time to break down the transmission fluid and lift the stain from the fabric.

Additional Pre-Treatment Tips

  • Act quickly: The sooner you can pre-treat a fresh transmission fluid stain, the better. The longer the stain sits, the more time it has to set into the fabric fibers.
  • Use cold water: For pre-treating fresh stains, cold water is recommended. Hot water can cause the stain to set further into the fabric.
  • Avoid rubbing or scrubbing: Gently blotting and dabbing the stain is best. Rubbing or scrubbing can spread the stain and push it deeper into the fabric.

Removing Set-In Transmission Fluid Stains

If the transmission fluid stain has already set in, don’t worry – there are still several effective methods you can try to remove it. Here are some techniques to consider:

  1. Enzyme-based cleaners: Enzyme-based cleaners are designed to break down and dissolve organic stains like grease, oil, and transmission fluid. Look for cleaners containing enzymes like lipase, protease, or amylase. Apply the cleaner to the stain according to the product instructions and let it sit for the recommended time before washing.Some popular enzyme-based cleaners include:
  2. Baking soda and vinegar: This classic combination can be effective for removing stubborn transmission fluid stains. Start by sprinkling baking soda directly onto the stain and then pour undiluted white vinegar over it. Let the mixture fizz and work on the stain for several minutes before scrubbing gently with a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and launder as usual.
  3. Cornstarch and dish soap: Cornstarch can help absorb the grease and oil from the transmission fluid, while dish soap acts as a degreaser. Make a paste by mixing cornstarch and dish soap with a small amount of water. Spread the paste over the stain and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Once dry, brush off the excess and launder the item.
  4. Commercial degreasers: If you have access to commercial degreasers designed for automotive or industrial use, these can be highly effective for removing transmission fluid stains. However, be cautious when using these products, as they can be harsh and may damage certain fabrics. Always test on an inconspicuous area first and follow the product instructions carefully.Some popular commercial degreasers include:
  5. Rubbing alcohol: For stubborn transmission fluid stains that won’t budge, rubbing alcohol can be a powerful solvent. Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol directly to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before blotting with a clean cloth. Repeat as necessary until the stain is lifted, then launder the item as usual.Note: Use caution when using rubbing alcohol, as it can potentially damage certain fabrics, especially those made from delicate materials like silk or wool.

Additional Stain Removal Tips

  • Test on an inconspicuous area first: Before using any stain removal method, especially harsh chemicals or solvents, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to ensure it won’t cause discoloration or damage.
  • Use a stain stick or gel: For spot-treating stubborn stains, consider using a stain stick or gel formulated specifically for grease and oil stains. These products can help target and lift the stain more effectively.
  • Soak in a stain remover solution: For severely set-in stains, you may need to soak the garment in a stain remover solution before washing. Follow the product instructions for soaking times and temperatures.

Washing and Drying Tips

Once you’ve pre-treated or treated the transmission fluid stain, it’s time to wash the garment. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Wash in hot water: Hot water is more effective at breaking down and removing grease and oil stains than cold water.
  • Use a heavy-duty detergent: Choose a detergent formulated for tough stains and greasy messes, as these will contain stronger cleaning agents.
  • Add an oxygen-based bleach or stain remover: Oxygen-based bleaches or stain removers can help lift any remaining traces of the transmission fluid stain.
  • Avoid using fabric softener: Fabric softeners can cause residual grease and oil stains to set in further, making them harder to remove.

After washing, it’s essential to inspect the garment thoroughly to ensure the stain is fully removed. If any traces remain, repeat the treatment process as needed.

When drying the item, it’s best to air dry or use a low heat setting on the dryer. High heat can cause any remaining transmission fluid to set further into the fabric, making it more challenging to remove in the future.

Laundry Detergents for Transmission Fluid Stains

Some laundry detergents are better equipped to handle tough stains like transmission fluid than others. Here are a few recommended detergents for removing transmission fluid stains:

Prevention and Maintenance

While accidents can happen, there are steps you can take to prevent transmission fluid stains on your clothes:

  • Wear protective clothing: When working on your vehicle or handling transmission fluid, wear coveralls, an apron, or old clothes that you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Keep rags or shop towels handy: Always have clean rags or shop towels nearby to quickly blot up any spills or leaks before they have a chance to set in.
  • Maintain your vehicle: Regular maintenance and inspections can help identify potential transmission fluid leaks before they cause a major mess.

If you do get transmission fluid on your clothes, act quickly to pre-treat and remove the stain. With the right techniques and patience, you can effectively get transmission fluid out of clothes and keep your wardrobe looking its best.


Removing transmission fluid stains from clothes can be a challenge, but with the right approach and perseverance, it is possible to restore your garments to their original condition. Remember to act quickly on fresh stains, use the appropriate pre-treatment solutions and stain removal methods, and follow proper washing and drying techniques. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle even the toughest transmission fluid stains.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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