How To Get Hydraulic Fluid Out Of Clothes

Hydraulic fluid is a substance that reduces wear and tear on your vehicle by keeping the engine cool and lubricated. If you or your partner work on cars frequently, you’ll probably have to deal with hydraulic fluid stains sometimes. Quickly removing these stains is crucial so they don’t become permanent.

How To Get Hydraulic Fluid Out Of Clothes

The most effective way to remove hydraulic fluid stains is by pre-treating the stain with a powder like baking soda and letting it sit for at least an hour. Then apply a cleaner like WD-40 or vinegar and again let it soak for at least an hour, finish off by scrubbing the stain with a hard brush then put it in the washer to completely remove the stain.

Does Hydraulic Oil Stain?

Yes, much like any other oil, hydraulic fluid will leave stains if you get it on your clothes. Luckily, these stains aren’t always permanent, especially if you treat them as soon as they happen.

Can You Get Get Hydraulic Oil Out Of Clothes?

You can easily remove hydraulic oil from clothes by absorbing the excess oil with baking soda, cornstarch, flour, or baby powder, then pre-treating them with WD-40, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol before putting the clothing in the laundry.

How To Remove Hydraulic Fluid From Clothes

If you get hydraulic fluid on your clothes, time is of the essence. If the stain dries on your clothing, it will be set, and your clothing will be ruined forever.

Luckily, removing hydraulic fluid from clothes is pretty easy as long as you follow these steps.

apply baking soda

1. Absorb The Stain With Powder

The first thing you need to do is absorb as much of the oil as you can using a powder like baking soda, cornstarch, flour, or baby powder.

To apply the powder, just sprinkle a thick layer over the entire stain. Let it sit for at least an hour or overnight if you have the time. 

2. Scrape Off The Powder

When the hydraulic fluid has been absorbed as much as possible, you can scrape it off your clothing with a dry paper towel. Make sure you scrape it over a trash can instead of into the sink to avoid clogging your drain.

There will probably be a little bit of white powder left on your clothing, but it will wash off during the next step.

3. Apply Cleaner

After removing the powder, you can move on to the pre-treating cleaner. Just spray enough WD-40, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol onto the stain to thoroughly saturate it, then leave it to soak for about an hour.

Did you know: you can also use WD-40 to clean your toilet?

4. Scrub The Stain

When your cleaner is done soaking, you can work it into the fabric by scrubbing it with a stiff scrub brush. A hard-bristled toothbrush can also work well for this step.

Clean with small, circular motions to avoid spreading the stain to other parts of the clothing.

5. Clean Stained Clothing In The Washing Machine

When you’ve effectively pre-treated your hydraulic fluid stain, you can put the clothing into your washing machine and clean it as usual.

I recommend using the hottest water the fabric can stand to help remove any traces of oil that may be left behind.

How To Remove Hydraulic Fluid Smell From Clothes

Though it’s not as desperate a situation as stained clothing, the lingering scent of hydraulic fluid on your clothing can be enough to drive anyone crazy.

baking soda and vinegar

Here are a few things you can try to get the smell out of your clothes.

  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is well-known for its ability to remove odors from pretty much anything; that’s why people keep an open box in their refrigerators or closets. To use baking soda against hydraulic fluid odors, sprinkle the clothing with an even layer of baking soda and let it stand for about an hour before brushing the powder off. Alternatively, you can add a cup of baking soda to your washing machine while doing the laundry.

  • Febreeze: Febreeze was created with the sole purpose of removing tough odors from fabrics, so it makes sense that it would also be a good defense against the smell of hydraulic fluid. All you need to do is spray a liberal amount of Febreeze on the clothing to saturate it and let it soak in overnight. You’ll want to wash any clothes you treat with Febreeze before you wear them again; otherwise, the chemicals could irritate your skin.

  • Vinegar and Baking Soda: This combination gives hydraulic fluid odor the 1-2 punch. The acidity of the vinegar neutralizes the alkalinity in the hydraulic fluid, while the baking soda draws out any remaining fluid from your fabric. All you need to do is mix equal amounts of vinegar and baking soda in a bucket, place your clothing in the bucket, and let it soak for about 20 minutes before tossing it in the laundry and washing it as usual.

  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice works in much the same way as vinegar in that the juice’s acidity neutralizes the hydraulic fluid’s alkalinity. To remove odors using this method, just put ½ a cup of lemon juice in a 1-gallon bucket, then fill the bucket the rest of the way with warm water. Place your clothes in the bucket and let them sit for at least 6 hours or overnight if you have the time. When your clothes are done soaking, you can clean them in the washing machine like usual.


When you work around cars, you should take care not to get hydraulic fluid on your clothing because it can leave dark oil stains behind. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, you will probably have to deal with these stains at some point, so it’s good to know how to remove them. 

The most important thing to remember when dealing with hydraulic fluid stains is that time is of the essence. If these stains dry on your clothing, they will become permanent.

Luckily, if you pre-treat your clothing by absorbing the excess fluid with powder and cleaning it with WD-40, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar before throwing it in the laundry, the stains should come out fairly easily.

Even if your clothes don’t have stains, sometimes the smell of hydraulic fluid can linger after washing them. If that happens, you can remove the odor with baking soda, vinegar, Febreeze, or lemon juice.

Shauna Stone