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How to get oil off car paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Most types of lubricant, including motor oil, will not harm the paint on a car. Oil will make a slimy mess and cause ugly streaking, but it won't damage the vehicle. But if the oil gets onto the driver's clothing from brushing against the car, it may result in a far more complicated mess. Removing oil from car paint requires a degreasing product that can be as simple as liquid dish washing detergent. Clean cloths and elbow grease will finish the job.

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  1. Blot away as much oil as possible using paper towels. Don't wipe the spill or smear it around, which will only create a bigger mess.

  2. Pour 1/2 cup of degreasing liquid onto a clean towel and apply the liquid to the oil on the paint, rubbing gently over the oil spot and letting the detergent set for 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. Wipe off the degreasing liquid and oil with old, clean towels, repeating as necessary to remove all traces of oil.

  4. Wash and wax the automobile to bring out the shine in the paint.

  5. Warning

    Do not leave the car in direct sunlight on a hot day when using degreaser on oil, as this could cause the paint to fade or discolour.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Liquid Dawn dish washing detergent, Oxiclean or other degreasing solution
  • Old, clean towels

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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