Clean your hands with olive oil

I was just outside staining a piece of wood and got oil stain all over my hands. A bit of olive oil took it right off. These days, olive oil (or any cooking oil, really) is my first resort whenever I’ve got something staining, greasy, sticky or icky on my hands. I’m pretty sure we’ve written about this before–but it bears repeating: There’s no need to expose your skin to harsh chemicals like turpentine or paint thinner.

Usually oil alone will do the trick. For tough jobs you can grit up the oil with a few shakes of salt or baking soda. Sometimes a mix of oil and soap works better.

A sad but true story: As an art student, I was taught to thin my oil paint and clean my hands and brushes with turp. I often painted holding a turpentine dampened rag in one hand for hours on end. I wiped my turp soaked brushes on my jeans (’cause, you know, it looked cool). I cannot imagine how much turpentine I absorbed into my skin over the years. It was only much later that I discovered I could clean my brushes and hands just as effectively with oil.

Oil dissolves oil. Oil dissolves a lot of things. Keep it mind.

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7 Comments

  1. I never knew that about oil! Excellent advice. In my father’s job as a contractor (painter/paperhanger), he thought nothing of keeping his hands in turpentine, paint thinner, gasoline for hours and wiping on a rag, but never washing it off completely all day long.

    He died of pancreatic cancer, as did his mother. My doctor assured me I would die of it too, in all probability. But, he said I would succumb 10 or 20 years later because I am not a smoker, don’t eat lots of processed meats,don’t drink, and am not continually exposed to chemicals. Even as a contractor, he worked in the chemicals. He came home and piddled in his workshop and our cars, breathing in car fumes and still keeping his hands in toxic chemicals. (Wonder what his liver was like.)

    Since I am really anti-chemical in an attempt to save my life (prolong meeting my fate), I will start using cooking oil for cleanup. Do you just dedicate a bottle of oil or pour some into a bottle that does not live in the kitchen when you need to clean with it?

  2. I use Olive oil in my daughers bath. I ran out of almond oil one day (what I used to use in her bath) so used olive oil instead. I liked it so much we still use it.

  3. I stopped buying Seventh Generations disinfecting cleaner and just filled it with water and a few drops of tea tree oil. I heard red thyme oil works too. I never thought of oil being a cleaner, but then again, linseed oil is great at thinning oil paints and is the main component of the Ecover floor “soap”. And you get a nice natural fragrance that beats any commercial synthetic fragrance cleaner.

    I’m looking forward to having a garden so I can hopefully create my own infused oils.

  4. @Anon: Yes, it’s a great make up remover. And you can shave with it. And I sometimes use it straight out of the shower as a moisturizer–esp. when I infuse it with herbs. Really, it’s a miracle substance.

    @Brett Yes, herb infused oils are fantastic–and you can infuse oils with dried herbs from an herb shop if you’re impatient with waiting for your garden to grow. ;) Or you can find herbs in the wild. Broad leaf plantain (plantago major), a common lawn weed, is one of the principle ingredients I use in infused oils. Another is chickweed (stellaria media),which is also easily found everywhere. Both are very healing and soothing to skin.

    Re: the tea tree oil cleaner–you’re right, tea tree oil and thyme are great disinfectants–and the smell is so much better than store bought cleaners. My universal cleaner is 50/50 water and white vinegar, plus essential oils. The vinegar adds an acid quality to the cleaning mix which wee beasties don’t like.

  5. Oh, by the way, this is Mrs. Homegrown, posting the comment above, and this one, because I forgot to sign myself in and Erik out. Erik is not so much into removing make-up and after-shower moisturizing!

  6. I really like Murphy’s Oil soap for cleaning oil paint brushes. I found early on that if I cleaned my paint brushes with turps completely then with oil soap all kinds of stuff would come out with the soap! I never tried olive oil. I think Murphy’s is pretty green and really cheap by the gallon. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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