How To Clean Up Oil Under Engine

Date Published: June 19, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

Oil on your car’s engine, undercarriage, and oil under the hood, in general, has consequences. Oil leaks should be addressed immediately, and oil spills need to be cleaned up right away as well. Thankfully, this short guide is designed to help you perform this cleaning task in four steps without any hassles.

Oil Cleanup Supplies

To clean up oil under the engine, you need to clean both the engine compartment and the undercarriage of your vehicle. While this process may seem complex, this easy-to-follow guide is going to help you eliminate the oil residue and buildup that could potentially cause serious problems to your car’s engine.

Compressed Air

Compressed air is used to remove extra debris that is underneath your hood and around your engine. Alternatively, a small cleaning brush can be used in place of compressed air, but you must be careful not to cause any damage to electrical components.

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A degreaser is going to help break down the oil residue. A cleaning brush can also be used after applying a degreaser if there is heavy oil residue present.

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Cleaning Brush

While a cleaning brush is not required, you might want to go ahead and have one handy. The oil residue can be quite stubborn, and you might need that extra help.

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Pressure Washer

A pressure washer is going to be used to remove the oil residue buildup under the hood and on the undercarriage of your vehicle.

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Garden Hose

A garden hose may be used in place of a pressure washer; however, you want a controlled stream of water. You must be careful when spraying water underneath the hood of your vehicle, and ensure you have control of the water.

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Plastic Baggies

Plastic baggies are necessary to cover important vehicle components that need to be protected while you are spraying the degreaser and using the pressure washer. Be sure to cover up the distributor, sensors, and other sensitive areas.

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Rubber Bands

Rubber bands can be used to hold the baggies in place. You want to be sure the sensors and other components are well-protected.

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Tape can also be used to hold the baggies in place. You do not want the baggies moving around or falling off, leaving important parts exposed.

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Spray Bottle

You need an empty spray bottle to hold the degreaser. Alternatively, you could purchase a degreaser that comes in a spray bottle and is not in concentrated form.

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How To Clean Up Under Engine After Oil Spill

Keeping your vehicle’s engine and other components clean helps to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly. Built-up sludge can prevent the oil from being able to properly lubricate the car’s engine. You know what supplies are necessary for this cleaning task, and this quick guide is going to show you the steps you should follow teaching you how to clean the oil under your engine.

Step 1: Clear Debris Using Air Compressor

Using an air compressor, clear any debris under the hood of your vehicle, specifically around the car’s engine. You want to do this before you start using a degreasing agent and pressure washer.

  • Pro Tip: A small cleaning brush works just as well if you do not own an air compressor; however, air compressors are great household investments and cheaper than most people think.

Step 2: Secure Sensors and Other Components

Next, it is time to secure all sensors and other important electrical components, like the distributor. Place plastic baggies around each component, and secure the baggies using either rubber bands or tape. This technique holds the baggies in place and helps prevent water from getting to those important electrical components.

  • Pro Tip: Take your time, securing the baggies using both tape and rubber bands if necessary. While this step is not part of the actual cleaning process, it is essential to protect your engine.

Step 3: Spray Degreaser

Using the spray bottle filled with a degreaser, apply the cleaning solution to the engine and other uncovered vehicle components. If you notice heavy residue in certain areas, you can use the cleaning brush to loosen the dirt and grime before using the pressure washer. Allow the degreaser to sit for about five minutes.

  • Pro Tip: The engine needs to be warm to the touch for this cleaning step. Turn on your vehicle and let it idle for a few minutes, then turn it off before spraying the degreaser.

Step 4: Rinse Off Degreaser Using Pressure Washer

The degreaser has had five minutes to settle and start breaking down the oil residue and other dirt and grime. Use the pressure washer to rinse off the degreaser. Make sure you have a steady stream, and be careful, still watching out for those covered electrical components. A garden hose can also be used for this step.

  • Pro Tip: After rinsing, leave all plastic baggies on the components until everything has air-dried. You still need to clean the undercarriage, and then you can circle back and collect the baggies.

Step 5: Spray Undercarriage Using Pressure Washer

With the pressure washer still in tow, spray the undercarriage of your vehicle. Essentially, you are removing the excess dirt, grime, and any other debris like when you used the air compressor on the engine and other components under the hood.

Step 6: Apply Degreaser & Scrub

Apply a degreaser to the undercarriage, once again using a scrub brush for any especially dirty spots. Remember to allow the degreasing agent to sit for five minutes so that it has time to start breaking down the caked-on residue.

  • Pro Tip: A rubberized undercoat helps provide extra protection for the undercarriage of your vehicle. After cleaning the undercarriage, you might want to consider opting for this type of protective coating.

Step 7: Rinse Using Pressure Washer

It is time to rinse once again, and this time you do not have to watch out for those electrical components. After rinsing, you can double back and grab those baggies, close your hood, and you are done.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning up oil under a vehicle’s engine is a two-part process, but the task is broken down into simple steps. With the right prep work in place, you will have protected important electrical components and removed the oil and other caked-on residues that can cause your vehicle problems.

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