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5110 Days of genuine trouble-free motoring on veg oil from 18th June 2008 to 16th June 2022 - read more

WVO - Cleaning Up After Yourself...

Cleaning up veg oil / wvo spills and mess after filtering and pouring

One of the main drawbacks of running a vehicle of vegetable oil / WVO is the mess, especially if you filter your own WVO. Consequently I often get asked if I know any ways of cleaning up afterwards. Below I've assembled a little advice that may save your sanity and you marriage.


Sooner or later you're going to spill some veg oil. It's inevitable. However try taking lots of sensible precautions before handling it. Make sure there are plenty of drop-cloths on the ground (dry sand, saw dust, old sheets, cardboard, old carpet). And never pour veg oil somewhere that you really wouldn't want it spilled (such as in the house).

If you do spill some and you haven't been sensible enough to lay down drop-cloths (just like I don't - fool I am), then firstly throw lots of suitable porous materials on the spill to soak up the bulk (again dry sand, saw dust, old sheets, cardboard, old carpet). Keep changing the porous materials with cleaner ones until all you've got left is a smear.

If your spill is on a hard surface like concrete or tarmac, pour cat-litter on it and leave it for a few days. This trick really works, soaking up most of the bulk of the oil, though it probably will leave a light stain. However, as you've heard me mention elsewhere, vegetable oil is biodegradable and a few weeks of sunlight should do the rest.

If you've spilled the stuff indoors - you're in trouble! Especially if it's on the living room carpet... in which case nothing but a new carpet and lots of groveling around your partner will help. However, on cleanable surfaces you can remove the oily residue with the following trick.

Laundry Detergent

When I've had veg oil on my hands I tried everything to clean it off - soap, washing-up liquid, bleach, extremely hot water, etc, and none of these really work. You end up with an oily residue that doesn't seem to shift. However, one day the only thing I had to hand was some liquid laundry detergent. I poured a little on my hands, cursed the lack of lather, swilled off the stuff and gasped in amazement at how clean and oil free my hands were. Beyond a doubt it's the quickest, easiest way I've come across of cleaning up veg oil residue.

These days I always keep a spray bottle to hand, you know the type, squeeze the trigger and out comes a fine spray of water. This I fill with water and half a cap of Environmentally Safe Laundry Detergent (not strictly necessary, but nicer from an environmental perspective). Shake this up and keep it to hand.

Got oil on your hands? Squirt, squirt, rub, swill, gone! That easy. Some on the tiles? On the lino? Same thing. It's amazing stuff. Always keep a bottle to hand.


Keep work-clothes especially for when you handle veg oil. It's not worth messing up you everyday-wear.

Getting veg oil out of clothing is not easy, which is why I recommend not trying. At the very least you're looking at a boil-wash (probably more than one - probably with double the quantity of detergent you normally use.

Better to keep some stinky clothes set aside strictly for the purpose. You won't look good or smell good, but better to keep one set of crappy clothes than ruin several sets.

Washing Your Socks

I get asked a lot how I wash my socks. Obviously I'm not talking about foot-socks, but the filter socks used to filter the WVO of it's nasties. The answer to this is that I don't.

Oh I tried, I really did. It's one of those horrible, truly messy jobs and frankly I can't stand.

Instead I replace my socks when needed - they're cheap enough. I lengthen their lifespan by inserting a cotton sleeve of my own making into the socks first. These are incredibly cheap, just a few pennies really, as I purchase the material by the meter from a market stall (you're looking for tightly-woven cotton or similar, something that doesn't stretch), cut this up into basic rectangle shapes and sew up the edges). When these block off, I hang them until all the oil has drained away, then I throw them away. Easy as that.

Yes it's a little wasteful, but in the greater scheme of things it's not too bad.

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