Skip to Content

Is Motor Oil Bad For Your Skin?

Is Motor Oil Bad For Your Skin?

We all have our favorite motor oil brand, but the reality is that most of us probably don’t know much about motor oil in general. 

We all know that an oil spill can be a dangerous thing indeed, but is it bad if you get oil on your hands and skin?

Motor oil clogs pores and leaves your skin feeling dry and itchy. Frequent exposure to motor oil and used motor oil can cause skin rashes, dermatitis, blood anemia, headaches, tremors, and skin cancer. It also contains carcinogens that can cause cancerous growth after prolonged exposure.

Motor oil is used to lubricate the engine of our vehicles. 

It also works as a sealant to prevent the rusting of the motor parts. On our skin, a spill shouldn’t last long before cleaning it off. 

In this article, I will look at the effects of having motor oil on our skin and the remedies to undo such occurrences.

Is Motor Oil Safe To Put On Your Skin?

Motor oil isn’t meant for our skin and can cause irreversible damage if we leave it on our skin for prolonged periods.

If you handle motor oil daily, you’re likely to end up with motor oil on your hands at some point. Even if you’re careful, it’s likely that you will end up with some degree of skin problems eventually. 

Motor oil contains chemicals that weaken our protective skin layer and prevent the continuity of healthy, vibrant skin. 

For example, motor oil contains petroleum or mineral oil, which are comedogenic ingredients. 

These ingredients may actually cause the skin surface to break out in acne scars. 

If you already have face pimples, motor oil could burn them and turn them into scars.

Another chemical found in motor oil is triclosan

Triclosan is known to cause skin irritation, redness, and rashes. 

It can also destroy your skin’s natural oils that are responsible for keeping the skin moisturized.

It is advisable not to apply motor oil on any area of the body where the skin is broken, irritated, or has dermatitis to prevent more damages. 

Also, never get motor oil on wounded skin or expose open wounds to oil spills because it will keep the wounds moist. 

Moisture helps bacteria grow, creating more damage to the skin.

Does Your Skin Absorb Engine Oil?

Yes, our skin absorbs engine oil after some time if the is not washed off apprpopriately.

Many engine oils contain a variety of additives to soften the crankcase. 

However, these same additives can prevent our skin from absorbing the necessary moisture and vitamins, resulting in a rough and dry appearance.

Motor oil comprises a mixture of non-polar hydrocarbons and polar additives such as sulfur and heavy metals like lead and zinc oxide. 

Non-polar hydrocarbons are the main chemicals found in motor oil. 

These chemicals are not soluble in water or blood, even after washing your skin. 

After some time, our body absorbs these non-polar hydrocarbons, which irritate the body cells. 

If you are exposed to engine oil, it’s wise to remove the oil immediately to reduce damage to skin cells. 

Motor oil may seem harmless because you clean it off afterward, but a layer of residue oil stays on the skin even after washing it off with soap and water. 

The residue, which is often invisible, will cause severe damage to our skin in the long run by blocking pores and causing acne. 

Is Used Motor Oil Toxic?

Motor oil contains chemicals like diesel, metal shavings, benzene, gasoline, and hydrocarbons that are toxic in nature. 

These chemicals belong to the non-polar hydrocarbon class and are harmful to our overall health. 

So, we should avoid inhaling or exposing such toxic chemicals to our skin. 

Once our skin comes into contact with it, it can stay there for hours or days if not cleaned. 

Our body then absorbs these harmful chemicals, eventually causing damage to cells in the long run.

There are also reports that motor oil contains many types of carcinogens.

Carcinogens are chemicals known to cause cancer, especially in the lymph nodes and liver. 

No doubt, having motor oil on our skin will increase the chances of developing cancer.

Another harmful chemical found in used engine oil is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 

These chemicals are known to cause damage to chromosomes, leading to genetic defects in babies born from mothers who had frequently used motor oil as a moisturizer during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Get Motor Oil On Your Hands?

Every time we use our cars, there is a chance that we will come into contact with used motor oil
Used oil has Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), known to be cancer-causing agents. 
Therefore, it’s essential to avoid touching used oil, and if it’s inevitable, you should use latex gloves when handling the motor oil.
If you have motor oil on your hands, you must avoid touching your face or any body part with a cut or broken skin.
If the spill is on a different part of the body, you should also avoid staining or smearing other people close by.

Can Motor Oil Make Skin Dry?

Motor oil can cause dry skin. 
As a result, you might feel sudden itchy sensations that are often associated with being in contact with anhydrous fluids, like motor oils and lotions. 
When this happens, make sure you wash it off well soonest possible. 
A nice soothing cream should take the itch away once you spread it over the affected area.

Is Synthetic Motor Oil As Toxic As Regular Oil?

Synthetic oils use organic lubricants that are free of carcinogens or toxic components that can be harmful if ingested, making them less toxic.
Synthetic oils are not derived from petroleum like most motor oils.

How Do You Get Motor Oil Off Your Hands?

Motor oil on your hands can be problematic, especially when you’re in the middle of something. 
So if you suddenly find motor oil on your hands, follow these steps:
Wipe off excess motor oil with a clean rag or paper towel.
Grab some dirt and rub it into your skin and around to the motor oil (if you don’t have any dirt nearby, sand will also work).
Scrub the area with water and soap until all of the grime and dirt is off of your hands.
This process should get all of the motor oil off of your hands without too much trouble. 
The dirt or sand acts as an abrasive that pulls the motor oil out of your skin, while the soap and water rinse it away.
With a bit of elbow grease, you should have all of the motor oil cleaned up in no time.

Related Articles

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!