How To Clean Up Spilled Grease

As useful as grease can be for its various purposes inside and outside the house, it can be quite the opposite when it gets accidentally spilled on the surfaces of your home. Viscous and highly annoying to remove, it can be quite a hassle to attempt to clean it by treating it as some other regular stain. As such, knowing the right methods that will allow you to clean spilled grease will make this daunting task much easier. Fortunately, you have chosen the right article to get that information from! 

Continue reading to find out the methods, the cleaning agents, and the steps to clean up spilled grease (both old and new) as well as some common questions about this particular topic.

Methods For Cleaning Spilled Grease

Below are some of the general/common methods that a lot of people use to clean up spilled grease:

🟩 Using warm water

The higher temperatures of warm water are capable of causing grease to become much more malleable and removable by negating its viscosity. Water is, of course, also capable of moisturizing the area around the grease stain. This prevents it from becoming too dry to the point where it becomes much more difficult to remove.

Once you have poured just the right amount of warm water around the grease spill, prepare some liquid soap or dishwashing liquid and pour it on the same spot as well. After letting the cleaning agent do its job, you can then scrub away at the now-dissolved grease stain. 

🟩 Absorbing and vacuuming

This may seem as if it is meant for other stains, but letting certain household materials absorb the grease can be quite an effective method to remove it. The best candidates for this job are tissue papers and cornstarch. Tissue papers are capable of absorbing grease. Especially, if they are thick enough to handle dense volumes of grease all at once. Meanwhile, cornstarch can be used to absorb the grease, as if it is a sponge that is porous enough to absorb water. 

After letting the cornstarch absorb the stain, you may vacuum it instead of sweeping it. This is to let the vacuum get rid of the remaining residue of the grease. To clean any remnants of the stain after doing these, you may use the warm water method that was mentioned above. As effective as this method can be, it should be noted that this can only be used in newly spilled grease. Remember, old grease stains that became hardened won’t be absorbed by any of these materials. 

🟩 Mopping or scrubbing with cleaning solutions

Certain solutions (such as the ones that we will mention in the upcoming section) are capable of dissolving grease but common household products may work as well. If you are mopping your house using small hints of abrasive cleaners such as bleach, you may simply use this same technique to get rid of the grease stain. However, warm water and dishwashing liquid can also work effectively, similar to the method that we mentioned beforehand. 

When it comes to choosing between mopping and scrubbing, scrubbing is usually more effective as it is more abrasive and you can exert more force with it. The only advantage of mopping is if you are already cleaning your entire house and you happen to stumble upon the stain, which can be convenient as you already have the necessary measures to clean it.

🟩 Using a degreaser

As the name suggests, a degreaser is a substance that is practically tailor-made to get rid of grease. It is capable of dissolving the grease and making it easier to remove by simply spraying it around the stained floor area. After spraying the degreaser, you may scrub off the grease along with a bit of water to get rid of it. If there are any remaining spots of grease, you can redo the method or use the warm water method we mentioned above (it is quite necessary to know as it can be used for the actual cleaning and for the post-cleaning).

🟩 The traditional way

The “traditional” way is by simply using the following steps that we will mention in later sections. It involves using common household agents that are capable of dissolving the spilled grease (regardless if it is dried up or freshly spilled). It is cheap, effective, and convenient in the sense that you will be able to do it right now as household materials are so common they are practically necessities. But first, we would, of course, need to identify the trusty household agents that will be able to remove any and all grease spills. 

Household Agents That Can Remove Spilled Grease

cleaner for spilled grease
Photo credits: Photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot

🟦 Vinegar and Baking Soda

The vinegar and baking soda pairing are most likely one of the most reliable and all-around solutions for the majority of your cleaning needs. Just search “vinegar and baking soda” on Google and hundreds to thousands of guides will show up which involve using them in the cleaning procedure. Of course, their power lies in their acidity and capability of being abrasive enough to remove stains but not to the point where they damage the surfaces on that they are placed.

Another convenient thing about this pairing is accessibility, as they are also commonly used in the kitchen, which means you most likely already have them. In any cleaning situation, you can expect this pairing to be one of the first things that you should think of for identifying what cleaning agent you will need. 

🟦 Rubbing alcohol

Not only is rubbing alcohol used for your personal sanitation but it can also be used for cleaning purposes due to its high acidity and capability to easily eradicate bacteria and other microbes. However, unlike vinegar and baking soda, there is a certain risk when it comes to using this substance due to its more abrasive nature.

For example, it shouldn’t be used on certain surfaces such as wood because it can damage the material. It can also be a fire hazard if you attempt to use it around your stove as it is very flammable. As such, if you were ever to consider using alcohol as a cleaning agent, be sure that the area around the grease stain is safe enough (i.e, there are no materials around that can ignite it and the surface is durable enough for it).

🟦 Dishwashing liquid or soap

Dishwashing liquid is another common household cleaning agent that you most likely already have around your home (because how else would you clean your dishes, right?). Fortunately, it is also an effective cleaning agent that you can use for getting rid of grease spills effectively.

Similar to the method that we mentioned in the previous section, using it as the cleaning agent will involve mixing it with warm water. Using hot water is also an option but it can be quite risky considering that some surfaces may not react kindly to its high temperature. You can also use liquid soap as an alternative choice if you somehow lack enough dishwashing liquid to do the job.

🟦 Liquid Detergent

Liquid detergent is another common household material that you are sure to have because of course, you need to do laundry (unless you go to the nearby stores to do it instead). Similar to dishwashing soap, its properties allow it to dissolve and carry away some of the lipid molecules that grease contains, thus making it easier to scrub and clean using water and your cleaning brush.

Not only does it make the surface clean enough, but it also gives it some fragrance unlike when using vinegar and lemon juice. However, it should be noted that detergent should be diluted in a bit of water first as it can’t be suitable for some surfaces if it is poured as it is.

🟦 Flour

Flour essentially follows the same logic as cornstarch when it comes to cleaning up grease stains. Basically, it should only be used in newly spilled grease as it works by absorbing the liquid properties of the stain, which allows you to then get rid of it in a powdered, solid state (which is of course, much easier to manage).

The only downside to using flour is that you can only use it exclusively when the grease stain is still liquid enough to become absorbed. If it is hardened, then you should only use the other cleaning agents on this list as they will definitely work more effectively. For alternative materials, you may use the aforementioned tissue papers and cornstarch to use as a substitute for flour while using the same methods as mentioned above.

🟦 Lemons

If you are in the mood for some lemonade, then you are in luck! Lemons are not only reliable for quenching your thirst, but they can also be used as effective cleaning agents for different kinds of stains. Similar to vinegar, lemons have enough acidity to dissolve various substances without damaging the surface (granted it is not a papercut on your skin).

However, it should be noted that some consider vinegar and baking soda to be much more effective and accessible than lemons. As such, you should work with what you have as they can be both effective in doing the job especially if the grease is newly spilled. 

Steps To Clean Spilled Grease (New Spill)

spilled grease
Photo credits: A Cambie Grease Cleaning

Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to clean newly spilled grease using any of the cleaning agents mentioned above:

Step 1: Place some warm water on the spilled grease. 

If you are using certain materials such as vinegar and baking soda or lemons, this step can be skipped depending on the severity of the spill. In the event that the spill seems too thick but still viscous and fresh-looking, you may put the cleaning agents directly.

However, if the grease stain seems to be drying at an alarming rate or if it is exposed to heat, using water may help remedy its stubbornness. Just be sure that the surface is capable of handling the cleaning agent without experiencing any damage as a side effect. To be sure, you may opt to use the safest option instead (the baking soda and vinegar pairing).

Step 2: Let the cleaning agent and the water do their job for a while. 

Make sure that it doesn’t spill to other areas of the surface, thus making your job much messier to handle. You may use tissue paper or towels to prevent the liquids from spreading and flowing to other areas of the surface. Be sure to keep your pets (if any) out of the stained area as they may mistake the cleaning agent for a puddle that they should play with.

Step 3: Scrub the stained surface 

Use a scrub brush or the back part of a dishwashing sponge (the rough, abrasive one) and exert a bit of force to make sure that the grease is taken care of properly. If the surface is too sensitive for brushes, you can use microfiber cloths which will prevent any scratches from occurring. However, the downside when using microfiber cloths is that they tend to be much slower in getting rid of the stain compared to brushes. Slower doesn’t mean worse though, as they will be able to do the job as effectively.

Step 4: Rinse the surface

Rinse with water to get rid of the cleaning agent and the remaining grease. You may then use paper towels, a cleaning cloth, or a mop (if the stain is on the floor) to dry the wet surface. If there are any remaining grease stains even after cleaning, you may perform some post-cleaning procedures such as using warm water and some liquid soap or simply doing this cleaning procedure all over again (albeit with less water and cleaning substances this time). 

Step 5: Trying out alternatives

Below is an alternative cleaning procedure involving flour and its other alternatives:

  • Pour some of the flour into the stained area. Make sure that the windows are closed and no airflow is present to prevent the flour from being blown away. Allow it to absorb the grease for a few minutes. 
  • You can either rinse the flour (albeit if you are willing to deal with quite a mess) or you could simply vacuum the surface where the grease was spilled. Be sure to get rid of the flour properly so you could assess if the grease stain has completely been absorbed.
  • If there are any remaining grease stains, you can rinse and scrub using the same procedure above to get rid of the grease’s remnants.
  • Wipe the surface with a damp towel to get rid of any remaining dried-up flour, tissue paper, or cornstarch bits that become stuck on the surface or that the vacuum may have missed. 

Steps To Clean Spilled Grease (Old Spill)

🟨 Using household agents

Below is a step-by-step procedure on how to clean dried-up or older grease stains using any of the cleaning agents mentioned above with the exception of the flour and its alternatives:

  • For dried-up stains, you won’t be able to use flour to absorb the grease, so you will need to use the other cleaning agents on the list above. Most notably, vinegar and baking soda can work the best in these situations because you are combining both to dissolve and absorb the dried-up grease strain. Allow the cleaning agent to sit there for 10-15 minutes while it dissolves the hardened grease.
  • You may now scrub the dried-up grease using a brush. More abrasive materials are preferable here, as you can apply a little more force since the surface is already covered by the dried-up grease, thus lessening the risk that you accidentally scratch or damage the surface. 
  • For any remaining hardened grease stains, you may redo the two steps above all over again but this time, you should use a scraping tool to try and get rid of the remaining stains. However, if the surface seems too light or vulnerable to scratches, you should consider using a microfiber cloth or a toothbrush instead.
  • After the grease has been completely removed, you may rinse the surface with water and dry the surface using a clean cloth or towel. 

🟨 Using degreaser

Below is an alternative method involving degreasers and vegetable oil:

  • If you are using a degreaser, you may dilute it in water first before applying it into the surface. Vegetable oil, as absurd as it may be for it to be used as a degreaser when it’s a form of grease itself, is actually an effective way to get rid of its fellow grease. 
  • For the degreaser, you may scrub it directly and it will do its job just fine. But for the vegetable oil, you will need to treat the grease stain as a newly spilled one afterward and do the respective procedure for that type of stain. 
  • The surface should now be clear of grease while possessing a shiny new gloss. You may wipe the surface with a clean towel or a piece of cloth to get rid of any remaining substances that you may have left out during the cleaning process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What if some of the greases spilled into my clothing?

If the grease is newly spilled or if it is still liquid enough, you may use flour, cornstarch, or baking soda to absorb the contents of the grease before washing it. However, if the grease is hardened and hard to remove, you will need to use more abrasive cleaning products such as vinegar or color-safe bleach to get rid of the hardened stain. After rinsing and washing the clothing in warm water on its own, you may toss it into the washer and allow it to go through its regular cycles as if you are treating it as a typical wash day.

Q2. Are degreasers worth purchasing?

Degreasers can be quite cheap and affordable in most cases, which makes them worth buying if you want to have one at your disposal. However, not all stores will have them, and the only sure way you can get them is by purchasing them online (which not everyone prefers). There’s also the chance that you never used one before and are more comfortable with the alternative solutions, which is definitely acceptable.

The alternative cleaning agents that we mentioned above are capable of doing the job as effectively as the degreaser while remaining accessible to you at most times (especially vinegar and baking soda). 

Q3. How long does it take for grease to solidify or harden?

There are a bunch of factors that affect how fast or slow grease will harden. For example, the room’s temperature, as too hot or too cold of a room temperature can cause the grease to solidify much faster. In just a few weeks, grease hardening can become out of your control especially if it is accumulated in one container, which means that the whole batch will harden simultaneously.

There are no warning signs for the grease’s hardening as the difference between each phase is so subtle you won’t even notice it until it has already hardened. As such, it is important to know how to prevent different types of grease from hardening, such as using lubricators that can soften and prolong the grease’s liquid state. 

Q4. What is the best way to deal with grease leaks?

A lot of people prefer putting grease in containers for later use, but this can also cause problems on its own when accidents such as leaking occur. Grease can already be quite a nuisance when it is spilled in small amounts, so what if a whole container of it leaked into the surfaces of your home?

Fortunately, you can manage it as long as it is still in its liquid state by using the solutions mentioned above along with some cleaning tools such as a mop or vacuum. However, if the spill gets way out of hand, you may simply call a cleaning professional to do the job for you, especially if the surface is sensitive to more abrasive methods.

Q5. How can you determine if there are still unseen stains of grease on the surface?

By simply touching the surface, you should be able to identify if there is still some grease that remains. If the texture feels soft and slippery, then chances are you will need to scrub the surface again if you want to completely eradicate the grease. For a more drastic method, you may use a piece of unscented tissue or paper towel and wipe it on the surface.

By smelling the tissue or paper towel, you should be able to smell the familiar scent of grease if there are still some that are present. In the event that this occurs, you may simply use the cleaning methods for new spills, albeit by using a spray bottle for the warm water and only a small amount of cleaning agent this time.

Final Words

Grease can be cleaned with ease using the procedures and materials that we mentioned above! Be sure to be careful around this substance as it can be quite a nuisance to remove on surfaces and on your clothes. If you are someone who is constantly exposed to grease because of your role or occupation, then knowing these tips can be a helpful way to remedy the common mishaps that happen with this substance.

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