The Trick to Getting Bike Grease Out of Your Jerseys & Shorts

Keep your cycling kits clean and spot-free with orange hand cleaner

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Bike chain
Photo by Martin Terber

I’m sitting here wearing a white shirt and somewhat expensive workout pants. I’m not bragging about how much I spend on my clothes, I’m telling you that they now sport grease smears and a fancy (very newbie looking), chainring tattoo. It’s never intentional that I wear white on a day I need to do some bike maintenance. It just seems to work out that way. I probably need to reexamine my life.

Anyway, where do I go from here? Wash these clothes, bleach them even, and the grease likely won’t let go of its grip on your bright whites or fancy lycra. You’ll have to bring in the big guns . . . er . . . oranges.

Yup, Orange Hand Cleaner. You know, it’s that stuff your dad (or mom if she was super cool) used to wipe his hands off with after working on the car–or maybe you use it yourself to get the grease off your fingers after swapping a chain. As well as it works on your hands, it works even better to get that grime out of your cycling clothes.

Before you pick up any old orangish bottle, you’ll want to be sure that the type of cleaner you’re using actually has a citrus ingredient–just because it says “orange” on the packaging doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the can. Check the ingredients for sure. And, while you’re at it, look for pumice too, which will work better on the larger stains and get that blotch out for good.

Here’s the method:

  1. Step One: Scoop a little of the hand cleaner onto the spot. Rub it in a circular motion to work it into the fibers.
  2. Step Two: Wash your kit as usual. I like to add a little dye-free detergent, turn everything inside-out, zip it up, and use a hand-wash setting.
  3. Pull it out of the wash, et voila! No more black stains.

This is actually the simplest of tricks–orange cleaner is basically a pre-treater. Of course, you might also want to put all your kit into a mesh bag before tossing it in the washer. Yes, I know that some folks like to hand-wash only their lycra, but I’d rather not use my free time scrubbing out a chamois. It is, however, a great idea not to mix your delicate and expensive cycling jerseys and shorts in with other types of clothes, which will wear them out prematurely.

Oh, and, one last tip. The dryer in all its fabric-shrinking glory is a big no-no.

Photo by Martin Terber

About Bek 297 Articles
SLO Cyclist's chief editor and recovering road snob, Bek makes sure everything runs smoothly around here. She's also the one who reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously--unless it involves black socks. Black socks are always serious.

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