Are you tired of looking at unsightly oil stains on your garage floor or concrete driveway?
Planning on sealing or resurfacing your concrete soon?
You’ll need to learn how to remove oil stains from concrete, or else you’ll be stuck with them. If you don’t properly remove the oil, eventually, it’ll seep back to the surface, and you will waste your effort.
If the idea of cleaning oil stains from concrete makes you cringe, fear not – we’re here with some tips to help you.
How to Clean Oil Stains from Concrete Surface When Fresh
Whether it’s because you or a friend had an oil leak or you spilled oil during a do-it-yourself oil change, you’ll eventually find yourself dealing with an oil stain.
Fresh oil spills are the easiest to clean since they’ve not had time to set in. The first thing to do is contain the fluid. Use an absorbent material like clay kitty litter. For it to work, it has to be a clay cat litter. Other types of kitty litter won’t work because it’s not as absorbent.
Don’t have cat litter handy? That’s okay! There are other household products you can use to soak up spilled fresh oil stains before getting out of hand. These include:
- Baking soda
If you don’t have any of these items on hand, you can use sawdust, sand, or dirt. Simply spread the dry material on the oil. Allow it several hours to soak up the oil. Then, scoop up the dry material and dispose of it.
Hacks with Household Products
You’ll need to break up and rinse away a fresh spill. There are several materials you can use, such as:
- Powder laundry detergent
- Grease cutting dish soap, like blue Dawn (if it’s safe enough to use on animals after an oil spill, you can’t go wrong!)
- Spray lubricant
- Spray oven cleaner
You’ll also need a garden hose or pressure washer and a broom or stiff nylon brush on hand to help you work.
Break up the New Spill
Soak up the excess oil with your chosen medium. Use your stiff brush to scrub the stained area to rub in the material. This is particularly helpful when using baking soda. Collect the oil-soaked material and dispose of it.
Spray the whole stain with a lubricant or penetrant like WD-40. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, rinse it with your garden hose with the highest spray setting.
If you don’t have any spray lubricant on hand, you can use dish soap – as long as it features grease-cutting ingredients. Apply it liberally to the entire stain. Let it stand for 30 minutes, then blast it away with your water hose or pressure washer.
If you’re dealing with transmission fluid stains, you’ll want to use oven cleaner. Leave it soaking on the oil stain for 10 minutes. Then, rinse with your garden hose and repeat as needed to remove the stain completely.
How to Remove Old & Deep Oil Stains from Concrete
Deep stains require deep cleaning to remove. If you’re dealing with old grease stains on concrete, the job may require a bit more effort, but you can still restore it.
Depending on the type of oil spill you’re dealing with – whether it’s oil, gasoline/fuel, or transmission fluid – and the age of the stain, you may need to try more than one of these methods to get the job done.
With an old oil stain, you’ll need a stronger approach. Start by making a paste with baking soda and water. Next, cover the entire stain with the paste. Leave it for 30 minutes, then use your scrub brush to work the mixture deep into the concrete.
If you run out of baking soda before covering the whole oil stain, you can mix in some powdered laundry detergent. The key to getting the most from this stain removal technique is to use a lot of pressure as you scrub. This will maximize absorbency. If you’re dealing with extensive oil stains, let the paste sit overnight. Scrub it again with your brush in the morning, and then rinse with water. Repeat the process as needed.
The Poultice Technique
If the oil stain is particularly stubborn, you can use this tried-and-true technique many contractors swear by. First, saturate your absorbent material with a strong solvent like acetone.
Note: Wear protective gear while working with the solvent. Solvents are flammable. Do not let it come in contact with your skin.
For a safer poultice alternative, try mixing cat litter with grease-cutting dish soap until you get the consistency of peanut butter. This ensures the mixture will stay in place.
Apply the solvent mixture to the stain. Cover it. With this cleaning method, the solvent breaks down the stain while the material draws the stain to the surface. It will be a slow process. Be patient.
Bonus Tip: How to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete with Coke
You read that right! You can use soda to clean oil stains from concrete. Any kind of cola product works. Simply pour it over the stain. Allow it to soak in for at least eight hours – though overnight tends to work best. After the cola soaks into the stain, all you have to do is rinse it off with your water hose. This method works best for smaller stains.
Using Commercial Driveway and Concrete Cleaning Products
If you’ve tried all the household product hacks to remove stains from your driveway and nothing has worked, there are many commercial stain remover products available at your local hardware store, such as:
- Pour-N-Restore Oil Stain Remover
- Goof Off Degreaser (this engine degreaser works great on concrete driveways!)
- Oil Eater Cleaner and Degreaser
- Purple Power Driveway and Concrete Cleaner
- Zep Driveway and Concrete Cleaner
These cleaners use chemicals to do most of the work for you, so you don’t need to put as much elbow grease in as you scrub the stain. That said, because these are more powerful than detergent, you’ll want to be sure you read the instructions. Always wear eye protection and rubber gloves when using chemicals.
Microbial Cleaning Products
If you’re looking for something more powerful than household detergent but don’t want to use the harsh chemicals to clean up oil leaks, consider microbial cleaners.
Products like ACT Concrete Cleaner and Terminator HSD actually “eat” the oil stains. The oil is the food source for microbes. As long as it’s there, the microbes continue to eat. They release CO2 as a byproduct. When they’ve eaten all the oil stain, they die, which leaves a lighter stain.
When you use a microbial cleaner, there’s no need to have a nylon brush or bucket available to help you. You won’t have to scrub, but you will need to be patient.
Pour the cleaner on the stain, making sure to cover the whole thing. Lightly mist the area with water. Let it sit. Watch as the stain becomes lighter. Be prepared to use several applications to fully remove oil stains. Microbial cleaners remove oil on concrete driveways as well as asphalt surfaces.
Ready to Tackle Oil Stains?
There are several ways to approach removing oil stains from concrete surfaces – and one of them is sure to work for you. However, if these cleaning methods don’t work for you, call in a professional like Upstairs Downstairs Cleaning Service who’s experienced with oil stains on concrete.
We strive to provide you with the best deep cleaning services in Elmhurst, Palatine, Arlington Heights, and other neighboring suburbs. We also offer holiday and same-day cleaning services to help you cope when family, friends, and work keep us on our toes! Call today to schedule a service!