How to Clean Up Spilled Cooking Oil

Updated March 9, 2020
Read Time: 3.3 Minutes

“Watch out for the spill,” said my husband as I walked into the kitchen that morning. I looked down at the floor. “No worries,” I thought as I side-stepped the mess on the way to the bathroom. It was a big spill, but nothing an old towel couldn’t handle.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “When I was opening the coconut oil this morning, it slipped out of my hands. I was going to try to clean it before you got up.”

“Oh.” That statement gave the mess new meaning. “Guess it’s not going to be as simple as grabbing an old towel,” I thought to myself. “How are we supposed to clean up all that cooking oil?”

We started with paper towels. They helped a little bit, but were mostly useless because there was just too much oil. Then, I had an idea.

“What about baking soda?” I wondered. From my adventures in laundering, I knew that baking soda could be used to remove cooking oil stains from clothing. To remove an oil stain, all you have to do is some apply baking soda and wait for it to absorb the oil. Then you brush it off, dab on some detergent and rinse out the remaining oil.

I decided to apply this bit of laundry logic to our situation. I sprinkled and waited, fingers crossed. And it worked!

The baking soda absorbed the majority of the oil, leaving nice little clumps which could then be swept away. We finished the job with an alcohol-based degreasing spray. Though it first seemed like an impossible task, we managed to clean several cups of coconut off the floor and counters, all before the baby woke up. Success!

How to Clean Up a Cooking Oil Spill

Hopefully this scenario never happens to you, but in case it does, here’s a four step process for cleaning up spilled cooking oil, whether it be coconut, olive, avocado, canola, or peanut oil.

  1. If you’re cooking and spill the oil near a burner that you’re using, turn it off and wait for the area to cool.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the oil spill and allow the oil time to be absorbed. Sweep, vacuum, or wipe away the clumps of baking soda or cornstarch.
  3. Break out your heavy duty dish soap or a spray cleaner designed for greasy messes and apply it to the remaining oil. Let it sit for a minute or two and clean it up.
  4. Celebrate, because you did it!

Have you ever had a cooking oil incident? How did you clean it up?

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