Best Way To Clean Oil Off An Engine

Do you want to know the best way to clean oil off an engine?

Do you look at the many different products out there and wonder which one is right to clean the oil off my engine?

We can help!

There are many engine cleaners/degreasers out there, some better than others at removing grease and oil, but they have different criteria for being the appropriate choice.

To successfully remove your grease and oil from your engine, it’s essential to know how to choose the right product – and then how to execute it properly.

If you make the wrong choice or do it incorrectly, you’ll have wasted your time, money, possibly hurt the environment, and still be stuck with your dirty grease and oil on your engine.  

You’ll still be trying to figure out what to do about it, all the while bad-mouthing a product that may work perfectly well when used correctly.

We investigated this and laid it out for you – how to choose the right product, what to look for, and even reviewed several top performers!

Choosing The Best Engine Cleaner/Degreaser

There are quite a few different products out there to choose from when deciding which is the best cleaner/degreaser for grease and oil. 

If you look at the reviews, you’ll mostly see success for some and not for others. 

The trick is choosing the right product for your specific grease and oil stains, your particular engine, a few other parameters, and then following the packaging’s instructions precisely (possibly tweaking it a bit for each situation).

If you’re still having problems, be sure to reach out to the product manufacturer for help and suggestions, as well as to others who have already successfully used the product.

When choosing the appropriate engine cleaner/degreaser for your grease and oil on your engine, there are many things to consider.

  1. The type of engine cleaner/degreaser, i.e., petroleum-based, water-based, liquid, foam, etc.
  2. The brand, i.e., Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys, Krud Kutter, etc.
  3. The product’s formula, superior cleaning/degreasing properties, and effectiveness.
  4. The product’s ease of use, understandable and easy application method and dispenser type, i.e. trigger spray, gallon jug spout, aerosol can, etc.
  5. The amount of dirt, grease, oil, and grime on your engine, which means you’ll need either a regular, heavy-duty, professional strength or industrial strength degreaser.
  6. The product’s safety information and whether it’s environmentally friendly, i.e. biodegradable, non-toxic, non-corrosive, etc.
  7. The product’s versatility, i.e., multi-purpose, multi-surface, etc.
  8. The product’s smell, odor, or scent, and whether it leaves behind a residue.
  9. The size of the product’s container and the product’s volume, i.e., gallon jug, 32-ounce bottle, concentrated or not, etc.
  10. The product’s price and whether it’s a good value, i.e., total dollar amount, the dollar amount per ounce comparatively, etc.

The Type Of Engine Cleaner/Degreaser (Most Common)

The most common types of engine cleaners/degreasers are petroleum-based, water-based, liquid, foam, gel, plus a few more.

Petroleum-based degreasers are strong and great at dissolving grease, oil, dirt, and grime.

They are made from natural mineral oils containing alcohol and distillates, which are more powerful.

They tend to be cheaper than water-based formulas since they don’t need high-end formulations.

They also tend to be abrasive, more so than water-based versions, so care must be taken when using not to damage painted surfaces, plastics, chromes, and aluminum.

They tend to have a strong, unpleasant odor, which some brands have tried to mask, but some have left alone.

Water-based degreasers will naturally be much milder than petroleum-based formulas but can be just as effective at cleaning and dissolving grease and oil due to the different solvents added to the different products across the board. 

They are less abrasive and milder to use on multiple surfaces, which means less worry about damaging other surfaces in your car.

They are usually more environmentally friendly but also usually cost a bit more than their petroleum-based counterparts.

Liquid, foam, and gel are the most popular forms of engine degreasers.

Liquid is by far the most available and the most popular.

They are strong and powerful.

Foam and gel degreasers are less popular but work well if you have oil and grease on a vertical, where more “clinging” is needed.

The instructions for using foam and gel are entirely different from using liquid.

The Brand Of Engine Cleaner/Degreaser (Most Common)

The most common brands of engine cleaners/degreasers are Meguiar’s. Chemical Guys, Krud Kutter, Oil Eater, Simple Green, Aero Cosmetics, and more…

Some people choose their engine degreaser based on brand reputation alone, then on what the specific product does.

Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys, and Aero Cosmetics are well-respected brands in the car detailing business, with products wholly focused on car detailing. 

They work cleaning engines very well, are versatile, and a bit more expensive.

Krud Kutter, Oil Eater, and Simple Green are all well-known All-Purpose Household/Industrial cleaners/degreasers.

They are all multi-purpose and multi-surface degreasers.

They not only clean engines well but will clean everything well and tend to cost less than the others.

The Product Formula, Superior Cleaning/Degreasing Properties, And Effectiveness

What an engine degreaser is made of directly results in its effectiveness to dissolve and remove grease and oil from your car engine – how powerful it is, how gentle it is, how effective it is, how eco-friendly it is, and how versatile it is.

A degreaser that isn’t effective or powerful won’t do your oily engine much good, whereas one that’s too powerful and not gentle enough may damage your engine, other car parts, or your health.

A good option is to find a degreaser that’s just powerful enough for the job at hand, yet gentle and eco-friendly as well,

The Product’s Ease Of Use, Understandable And Easy Application Method And Dispenser Type

Most cleaner/degreaser products come ready-to-use right out of the bottle. Apart from possible diluting, no other mixing or preparations are necessary. 

Look for a product with easy spray-on or wipe on and then wipe off and/or rinse off directions – those will be the easiest, although each product comes with its own set of application instructions.

As for the different dispenser types, there are various types, but the favorite is the trigger spray, which is most commonly found on the 16 or 32-ounce bottles.

In contrast, the gallon jugs usually don’t come with any special way to dispense the product (you’d need to purchase a separate spray bottle for that and for diluting as well).

The Amount Of Dirt, Grease, Oil, And Grime On Your Engine

The amount of dirt, grease, oil, and grime on your engine completely affects the strength of the engine degreaser you’ll need to clean the oil off your engine, such as regular, heavy-duty, professional, or industrial strength degreaser.

Heavy-Duty degreasers have a thicker consistency and, therefore, “cling” better, working on vertical or horizontal surfaces.

Professional-Strength degreasers are milder than industrial-strength, which some can be too powerful for most jobs unless specifically formulated to be gentler (like the one on our list).

The Product’s Safety Information And Whether It’s Eco-Friendly

You should look to see if there is any safety information listed on the product label as a good degreaser should be able to dissolve oil efficiently without irritating your eyes, harming your skin, staining your clothes, etc.

There are quite a few products labeled as eco-friendly or biodegradable, with terms like non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable, acid-free, ammonia-free, etc.

Eco-friendly degreasers are water-based formulations made from natural ingredients, contaminant-free, safer for the user and the environment, as well as other surfaces in your car.

Most of these products are not food-safe approved and must be rinsed off when used on food preparation surfaces.

The Product’s Versatility

Some products are made specifically for engine cleaning/degreasing, while others are much more versatile as they are multi-purpose, multi-surface, etc.

Multi-purpose cleaners/degreasers are also known as all-purpose cleaners/degreasers because they are able to clean and lift dirt, grease, oil, and grime from not only car engines, but from all over the place, such as the rest of the car, garage, driveway, and patio as well as inside the house, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc.

A multi-purpose product will usually be a water-based, milder formulation so it can work well on various surfaces, making it also a better value since you’re able to use one product for many things.

One important feature of a multi-purpose degreaser to look at is its multi-surface ability, which means how many, and which surfaces the degreaser is safe to use (or at least will not harm).

This will help in determining whether a degreaser is safe to use on car parts surrounding your engine in case of accidental spills, run-offs, drips, etc.

The Product’s Smell, Odor, Or Scent, And Whether It Leaves Behind A Residue

Nearly all the engine cleaners/degreasers will have a smell, some better than others, some completely offensive, particularly petroleum-based formulas.

Most water-based solutions have fragrance added to make their scent more “pleasant,” which is purely a subjective decision – for every degreaser, some people will like the smell, and some people will hate it.

Another important thing to consider is whether an engine cleaner/degreaser is known to leave behind a residue after it’s done degreasing your engine.

If you then have to clean the residue off of your engine immediately after you had to clean the oil off of your engine, it kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning the engine in the first place, or it just creates double cleaning work.

The Container Size And Product Volume

Engine cleaners/degreasers are offered in several different sizes and types of containers, so you’ll need to decide how much product you’ll need for this particular job, whether you can use the cleaner/degreaser for additional jobs, and therefore how much product in total you’ll need.

Plus, manufacturers often offer bundles and deals of two or more bottles or a bigger size – or if the solution is concentrated, it could actually be more than you’re getting if you dilute it and don’t use it all at full strength.

The Product’s Price And Whether It’s A Good Value

Don’t automatically go for the biggest and cheapest product!

Make sure the product performs effectively enough and figure out how much the product costs per ounce to compare it to the cost of other products, also comparing whether a product is concentrated or not.

Benefits of Using Engine Cleaners/Degreasers

  • Keeping your engine clean: the best engine degreasers are designed to remove oil and grease from your engine.

Those tough to remove substances are difficult and may require the use of something heavy-duty or professional grade.

  • Prevent wear and tear: Oily parts wear down and need repairs faster than clean parts do.

Oil and grease build up grime on your car’s engine over time, accelerating wear and tear on the engine, which leads to costly repairs down the road.

  • Get rid of oil and grease easily: There are many ways to clean your engine, but using an engine degreaser is the safest, easiest, and mildest one (if it’s a water-based formula).
  • Your engine performs better: Oil and grease cause the engine to run less efficiently, but once it’s clean, it’ll run efficiently again.

Plus, it’s easier to identify early any possible oil leaks on a clean engine, whereas you’d never notice one on a dirty engine.

Finding oil leaks early allows you to fix the problem early, saving you in future costly repairs. 

  • If you’re planning to sell your vehicle: You’re much more likely to get top dollar for a vehicle with a sparkling engine than you are for a vehicle with a dirty, oily engine.

Review Of The Best Engine Cleaner/Degreaser

In this section, we’ll discuss each of our picks for the best engine cleaner/degreaser.

Meguiar’s D10801 Super Degreaser 

This product is found on Amazon and gets great reviews.

A well-known brand with a good reputation and products specializing in just car cleaning and detailing.

Industrial-strength alkaline-based cleaner works powerfully to emulsify fats, oils, and grease.

Its fast-acting, water-based formula is concentrated, versatile, and easy to use.

Meguiar’s Super Degreaser is a multi-surface product, which is safe to use on a variety of surfaces in addition to your engine, such as leather, painted surfaces, and other areas in the car – when sufficiently diluted.

This product contains a special blend of non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients and is specially formulated to not leave any white residue behind.

Super Degreaser has a nice herbal fragrance.

It’s available on Amazon in a 1-Gallon Jug.

Pros For This Product

  • Industrial-strength product specifically for car engines – grease and oil.
  • Well-respected, dedicated automotive brand.
  • Excellent degreaser, cuts through grease with ease.
  • Versatile – multi-surface, when diluted appropriately.
  • Concentrated formula for heavy-duty degreasing work.
  •  Easy to use
  • Biodegradable
  • Water-based formula
  • Herbal fragrance
  • Leaves no residue
  • Good value

Cons For This Product

  • Cost – it’s not the cheapest bottle of engine degreaser.
  • It’s industrial strength and concentrated, so it must be diluted correctly before use on multi-surfaces.
  • Some danger associated with this product,

Safety information: It can cause damage to your skin if you get splashed, so please wear protective gloves and eyewear when using.

  • It doesn’t come ready-to-use as it’s in a 1-gallon jug without a dispenser method provided, other than pouring it full-strength from the jug onto a cloth.
  • Must get a separate spray bottle to use for dilution and spray application.

Chemical Guys CLD_201_16 Signature Series Orange Degreaser – 16 Oz.

This product is found on Amazon and gets really good reviews.

A well-known brand with a good reputation, known for its more expensive automotive detailing products.

Professional-strength citrus-based cleaner works powerfully to loosen and emulsify oil and grease.

This product works fast and deeply and has an ultra-concentrated (20:1) water-based formula.

It’s versatile and suitable for use all over the vehicle, including the undercarriage, rims, wheels, etc.

Signature Series Orange Degreaser is easy to use and comes ready-to-use in a bottle with a trigger spray but can also be diluted when needed.

It’s non-toxic and leaves no residue behind.

This Orange degreaser has a sweet and refreshing citrus scent.

It’s available on Amazon in a 16 Oz Bottle, with a trigger spray, and it’s also available in a 4 Oz. Spray Bottle and a 1-Gallon Jug.

Pros For This Product

  • Fast and deeply tackles tough oil and grease.
  • Non-toxic
  • Ultra-concentrated – dilutes 20:1
  • Easy to use, spray-on technique.
  • Well-respected, automotive detailing brand.
  • Versatile – multi-surface, when diluted correctly.
  • Comes in a ready-to-use bottle with a trigger spray.
  • The total cost of 16 oz. product is cheaper than others.

Cons For This Product

  • Cost – the 1-gallon jug is not the cheapest product available.
  • Must get a separate spray bottle to use for dilution.
  • The container isn’t extraordinarily strong as the product has been known to eat through it if left too long.
  • The solution is quite watery.

Aero Cosmetics Wash ALL Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser for your Home, Car, RV, Boat, and Motorcycle

This product is found on Amazon and gets great reviews.

A well-respected brand with a good reputation, known for its products specifically designed for vehicle cleaning and detailing – from aircraft to cars. 

Professional-strength works great on engines and more – it’s an all-surface degreaser, safe on all surfaces, and a multi-purpose household cleaner.

Wash ALL is easy to use as a wet or waterless cleaner. Either spray on, scrub, rinse off, and wipe dry (wet) or spray on and wipe off (waterless).

This water-based product is safe to use, non-toxic, biodegradable, alcohol, and ammonia-free.

It’s available on Amazon in a 128 Oz. (1-Gallon) Jug and it’s also available in a 32 Oz. Bottle with a Trigger Spray and a 16 Oz. Bottle also with a Trigger Spray.

Pros For This Product

  • Professional-strength engine degreaser – particularly tough on oil and grease.
  • Surprisingly easy to use.
  • Can be used either wet or waterless.
  • Safe to use, non-toxic, and biodegradable.
  • Dilution isn’t necessary.
  • Milder formula is versatile for multi-purpose uses.
  • 1-Gallon Jug is enough to last a long time.
  • Cost – Cheaper of the Gallon Jugs of the dedicated Automotive detailing brands’ degreasers.

Cons For This Product

  • Cost – 1-Gallon Jug may be expensive for some people.
  • Less potent than other options, milder for multi-purpose uses.
  • Must get a separate spray bottle to use for dilution and spray application.

Simple Green 19128 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser, 1-Gallon

This product is also found on Amazon and guess what, it gets great reviews as well!

A well-respected brand with a good reputation, known for its multi-purpose cleaning and degreasing products.

Industrial-strength water-based formula, strong, yet safe, cleaner removes oil, lubricants, and grease from washable surfaces, making it a multi-purpose and a multi-surface cleaner/degreaser.

Simple Green Crystal Clear gets rid of the toughest stains, and it’s concentrated, requiring careful dilution with water.

This product is one of only a few cleaners that’s 100% biodegradable, posing no real threat or harm to either you or the environment.

It’s non-toxic, non-abrasive, non-flammable, non-corrosive, and easy to use.

Simple Green Crystal Clear is completely fragrance-free and color (dye) free.

It’s available on Amazon in a 1-Gallon Jug, and it’s also available in a 6-Pack of 1-Gallon Jugs.

Pros For This Product

  • Best for Fragrance-Free Cleaning.
  • 100% Biodegradable, color (dye) free, non-flammable, non-corrosive, and non-abrasive.
  • Easily rinses off with water.
  • Versatile – finds uses in many industries and at home.
  • Concentrated – able to be custom blended with water to suit your needs.
  • Economical.
  • Safe for both your health and the environment.
  • Gets good consumer feedback. 

Cons For This Product

  • The included pump can be difficult to use and will leak if installed incorrectly.
  • Cost – although it’s not the most expensive, there are some products costing less.
  • Must get a separate spray bottle to use for dilution and spray application.

Krud Kutter KK32 Original Concentrated Cleaner/Degreaser, 32-Ounce – 2 Pack

This product is found on Amazon as well and gets great reviews.

A well-respected brand with a good reputation, known for its great overall cleaning and degreasing products.

Heavy-duty water-based formula, work hard at getting rid of oil and grease, on a remarkable large number of surfaces, including engines, exhaust fans, patios, garages, etc.

It’s amazing cleaning strength is concentrated, versatile, and easy to use – comes in a ready-to-use bottle with a Trigger Spray.

Krud Kutter Original contains a blend of earth-friendly, biodegradable, non-corrosive, non-toxic, non-flammable, xylene-free, odorless, and leaves no residue behind.

It’s available on Amazon in a 32-Ounce Spray Bottle, 2-Pack, and it’s also available in a 32-Ounce Spray Bottle, 1-Pack, and a 1-Gallon Jug.

Pros For This Product

  • Made in the USA.
  • Biodegradable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Versatile – finds uses in many industries and at home.
  • Concentrated formula and fast acting degreaser.
  • Economical.
  • Universal degreaser – removes oil and grease on multi-surfaces.
  • Water-based formula – leaves no residue. 

Cons For This Product

  • Milder formula, not ultra-powerful for the worst oil and grease. 
  • Not a specialist product developed for the automotive world.
  • Must get a separate spray bottle to use for dilution and spray application.

There are a lot of engine cleaners/degreasers out there that you can purchase.

However, these five are some of the best engine cleaners/degreasers that we’ve come across.

Of course, choosing the best engine cleaner/degreaser depends on your things to consider when choosing the appropriate engine cleaner/degreaser, as mentioned in an earlier section.

To recap:

  1. The type of engine cleaner/degreaser.
  2. The brand.
  3. The product’s formula, superior cleaning/degreasing properties, and effectiveness.
  4. The product’s ease of use, understandable and easy application method, and dispenser type.
  5. The amount of dirt, grease, oil, and grime on your engine.
  6. The product’s safety information and whether it’s environmentally friendly.
  7. The product’s versatility.
  8. The product’s smell, odor, or scent, and whether it leaves behind a residue.
  9. The size of the product’s container and the volume of the product.
  10. The product’s price and whether it’s a good value.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is gunk? | Definition of Gunk

G∙u∙n∙k noun informal

any sticky or greasy residue or accumulation; gunk on the oil filter.

Origin of Gunk: An Americanism dating back to 1932, originally a trademark name for a degreasing solvent.

-British Dictionary | Definition for Gunk

G∙u∙n∙k noun informal

Slimy, oily, or filthy matter.

Is it difficult to clean a car engine?

-No! For most of your car engine cleaning, it’s superficial oil and grease.

Any car detailing tasks will be about day to day oil, dirt, and grime buildup, which accumulates over time.

How do you remove engine sludge?

-Engine sludge is different from the typical oil and grease buildup on the engine’s surface that we’re removing with an engine degreaser.

Engine sludge builds up if you haven’t changed the oil in a long time.

The easiest way to remove the sludge is to add a chemical engine sludge remover, such as Liqui Moly (5200 Oil Sludge Remover – 300 ML, which I found on Amazon, to the oil crankcase and then idle the engine for about 10-15 minutes.

Next, perform a full flush to remove the old oil (and the sludge), replacing it with fresh synthetic oil.

What does engine flush clean, and is it safe for your car?

-An engine flush is a chemical additive product containing potent detergents designed exclusively to clean buildup deposits, sludge, and other sticky substances from the engine.

The way to use an engine flush is to pour it into the oil fill port, then let the engine run for about 10-15 minutes before you drain the old oil (and sludge and other deposits) and add new oil to the port.

By letting the engine flush product, such as Liqui Moly 2037 Pro-Line Engine Flush – 500 Millimeters, which I found on Amazon, mix with the oil and circulate in the engine helps dilute any sludge and other deposits.

By removing the old oil, you also remove the gunk and sludge buildup accumulated in your engine’s oil well.

This is not only safe for your car, but it will keep your car cleaner and has the same advantages as using an engine cleaner/degreaser.


Now you have information on what you need to consider when choosing the best way to clean oil off of your engine.

You know what to look for in a brand, a type of degreaser, the product’s cleaning properties and effectiveness, the product’s ease of use and understandable instructions, their environmentally friendly ingredients, and a few more things when looking at the many engine cleaner/degreaser products out there and available for purchase.

We’ve reviewed several of the top performers to give you further knowledge of what to look for in choosing the best engine cleaner/degreaser product when looking for the best way to clean oil off an engine.

When you make the most informed choices, you prepare yourself to have a sparkling clean engine – free of oil, grease, dirt, and grime!