Grease, oil, lacquer, non-water based anything can be a real pain to get off your hands. Ideally, you’d wear gloves, but sometimes they don’t make sense for quick jobs like fixing a bike chain or touching up some paint. So what are our options for cleaning up? There are some pretty harsh chemicals out there, I won’t name names but you know what I’m talking about. The kinds that come in big orange containers with pump handles on top. Just about all of these hand cleaners contain parabens, petroleum byproducts, micro-beads and more. So what are our options?
The solution to removing oil and grease from our hands is no further than the kitchen pantry; Olive Oil. Someone had told us that Olive Oil works really well for removing oil and grease but admittedly; we were skeptical. A recent painting project left us with some exterior white house (oil based) paint, and curiosity got the best of us. Full disclosure, for the purpose of this post I took a quarter sized dollop of paint and covered my hand. I let it semi-dry for a few minutes so it was tacky, but could not be rubbed off.
Of course, I first tried washing my hands in warm soapy water with the usual results, the water beaded off and the paint stayed on.
Enter the Olive Oil. I poured about an ounce onto my hands and – here’s where patience prevails – waited about a minute or two.
Then I began rubbing my hands together and I noticed the yellow olive oil began to turn a cloudy white/gray. The olive oil slowly dissolved the paint into a creamy liquid.
Once it felt like most of the paint was off of the skin, I used a gentle hand soap to finish the job.
The results? I was shocked to see how well the olive oil did in cleaning off my hands. If I had left it on a little longer I bet it would have done a more complete job, but I was happy with the results. What’s even better? Afterward, my hands felt soft and nourished, which is not what you’d expect from something that dissolves oils, and a lot better than how my hands feel after using a harsh hand degreaser.
The next thing I’m going to try? Paint brushes, paint trays, bicycle chains, anything that has oil or grease that needs to be removed. Keep in mind that fabrics, wood, or other porous surfaces will most likely absorb the olive oil and the results won’t be good. So only try this on something you can wipe clean or completely wash.
Along the same lines as this; I’ve heard of cyclists keeping a packet of mayonnaise in their back pockets. If they get a flat or throw a chain and need to stop and do roadside repairs they can use the mayo to get the grease off their hands the same way we did above. Rub it on, leave it for a moment, rub vigorously, then rinse with their water bottle.
Have you ever tried cleaning up paint or grease with olive oil? How did it work for you?