Concrete driveways or garage floors are the first things visitors see when approaching your home. A pristine concrete slab shows others that you are prideful of your home and its appearance. The last thing you want is for your first impression to be covered in old stains.
In this article, we will teach you how to remove those, or prevent those stains from occurring in the first place, so that your concrete never disappoints.
Depending on what you park in your driveway or garage, you may face messy spills that could leave stains on the concrete. From a car that leaks power steering or brake fluid to the lawnmower that has a phantom oil leak, these liquids could end up on your driveway, creating not only a mess but unsightly stains.
You will first want to identify what is leaking and promptly address that leak to prevent further spills. Next, determine what type of fluid you are working with. If you are lucky and the spill you found is just water from your car's air conditioning condenser, you can leave the cleanup to evaporation.
If it happens to be a brown or red-colored liquid, like oil or transmission fluid from a vehicle, time will be of the essence when trying to prevent a stain.
6 Methods Of Removing Oil Stains From Concrete
1. Removing oil stains using baking soda
Baking soda works well to soak up any wet oil that may have leaked onto your concrete. It absorbs the oil and is easy to sweep up or shovel into the garbage. Baking soda is also mixed with Coca-Cola sometimes to remove stains, but this does not work as well as some other methods.
Using baking soda is best when the stain is wet or instead is a pool of material that needs to be absorbed. You can pour the baking soda directly onto the liquid, wait a few minutes for it to absorb as much as possible, then remove it to start working on the stain removal.
2. Removing oil stains with cat litter
Cat litter is what everyone thinks of as soon as they see a fresh oil spill on the ground, and for good reason. The absorption power of kitty litter is unmatched when it comes to soaking up oil. You can also use the litter to soak up other cleaning chemicals you use to clean stains but do not want to wash into drains or grass. Cat litter solidifies whatever it absorbs and makes clean up quite easy with a broom and dustpan.
This method is not great for removing a stain itself. For that, using a detergent or degreaser is best.
3. Removing oil stains with detergent
Easy to find, household detergent is one of the best methods for cleaning up new or old oil stains on concrete. This method is the least expensive route too. For this method, pour a cup of detergent onto the stain, scrub in, wait 5 minutes for the detergent to work its magic, and then rinse with warm water.
Detergent does a great job of eliminating the stain while also being environmentally friendly. This may be the most labor-intensive method of cleaning an oil stain due to the amount of scrubbing, but you could use a push broom to scrub, making it a little easier on your knees or back. It may take a few applications, but detergent is a cheap and easy method for removing pesky oil stains from your concrete driveway.
4. Removing oil stains with a commercial degreaser
If you have access to a commercial degreaser, this may be the easiest method for cleaning up new or old oil stains from your concrete driveway. Degreaser that is spread or sprayed onto an oil stain will only take a few minutes and minimal scrubbing to clear up the stain.
This is the harshest method, though, for both you and the environment. Commercial degreasers or any chemicals can irritate skin and eyes, so be very careful when applying this to your concrete. We recommend always wearing eye protection and the relevant protective gear, while never letting the chemicals touch your bare skin.
These chemicals can also be harsh on the environment, so instead of rinsing them away, first, soak up any leftover residue with cat litter or another absorbent material. This will prevent harmful amounts of degreaser from getting into local drains and contaminating waterways.
5. Removing oils using a poultice
A poultice is a mixture of an absorbent and a solvent, like a degreaser and a cat litter we have discussed. By combining these two items, you can create a paste to coat the stain with.
The solvent works on removing the stain, and the absorbent paste keeps the solvent positioned directly on the stain without running or soaking into unwanted areas. This method works well if you are in a confined space or are working outside where the exposure to sunlight would naturally evaporate the solvent before it can work.
6. Removing oil stains with other optional methods
Sometimes Coca-Cola or WD-40 are used to try and eliminate old oil stains from concrete. These are not as effective as other methods but may be easier to obtain because they are household items you may already have in your garage or home. For the Coca-Cola method, you combine the liquid with baking soda, scrub into the stain with a wire brush, and rinse after setting for 5 minutes.
To use WD-40, spray stain and let sit. Wipe up the WD-40 with dry paper towels and apply cat litter to the area. The theory is that the WD-40 will penetrate the concrete stain, and the cat litter will absorb both the WD-40 and the oil stain that it has bonded to. This method is not one that I would recommend.
Tips For Removing Oil Stains From Your Concrete Surfaces
How to remove oil stains from concrete driveway
Driveway stains could seem daunting at first. Like any surface, you will want to attack these stains as quickly as you can get to them. The first step is to cover the spill with an absorbent like cat litter. Let that sit for 15 minutes minimum to solidify the spill. Once you remove the cat litter from the stain, apply the cleaner and scrub with a small bristle brush or broom.
Let the cleaner sit on the stain for roughly 5-10 minutes. Spread a light coat of litter or baking soda to solidify any cleaner residue and remove and rinse with water. Repeat until the stain is removed completely.
How to remove old oil stains from concrete garage floor
Garage floor stains come from many projects. No matter what automotive fluid the stain has been made by, the cleanup method is usually the same. For an oil, brake fluid, coolant stain, or transmission fluid spill, you will want to use a degreaser to penetrate and remove the stain.
Apply the degreaser to the stained area and scrub with a bristle or wire brush. Then leave the degreaser on the stain for 5-10 minutes as it penetrates the concrete stain. Once the degreaser has sat, pour on an absorbent like cat litter or baking soda to solidify any excess chemicals. Rinse thoroughly with water and repeat if necessary.
How to remove oil from concrete pavers
For concrete pavers, you may be working with an oil stain left by something automotive or possibly something cooking-related. Either way, the stain is the same, and the cleanup methods are generally going to be the same with regards to using a degreaser or detergent.
However, because concrete pavers are outside and usually free from flammable materials, you may be able to use a faster, tidier method of removing oil and grease stains. This method involves a weed-burning torch.
Pavers made from concrete are most easily cleaned by using a welding-style torch to heat the oil stains away. That’s right; you heat the stains with a propane torch until they completely vanish. This method is dangerous, so wear protective gear, but it is harmless to the concrete and very effective at removing oil stains.
You will not want to use this method in a confined space due to heat and fumes, and I advise using this method as the sun is on its way down to visibly see the torch flame for better control and accuracy.
Removing Cooking Oil Stains From Concrete
Not all oil stains on concrete are automotive-related. Whether your question is "how to remove vegetable oil stains from concrete" or "how to remove cooking grease from concrete," the cleanup method will be the same.
Say that you have an outdoor patio with concrete countertops or a grill that stands on some concrete pavers; cooking grease and oil may leave the same type of stains that you would find on a garage floor.
Because these cooking-related stains are in areas where food may be present again in the future, you will want to use safer methods of removing the stains. For cooking oil or grease stains on concrete, use paper towels to wipe up any wet residue first. You will then want to use Dawn dish soap on the stain.
The dish soap is safe to use around dining and food prep areas but is also strong enough to break down the oil stains in the concrete. This method may take a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease, but once the soap penetrates and removes the stain, you will be able to rinse with water and get right back to cooking without worrying about harmful chemicals.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Does vinegar remove oil stains from concrete?
Vinegar will remove oil stains from concrete; however, it will permanently damage any sealer on the concrete and should not be used in this capacity.
Does bleach remove oil stains from concrete?
Bleach will remove oil stains from concrete. You will need to use bleach in a gel form, which can be purchased in the form of toilet bowl cleaner. Bleach is a pretty harsh chemical to be used on concrete, and it does not prove to remove the stains as effective as other chemicals, so we do not advise using bleach for concrete oil stains.
Will bleach clean block paving?
Bleach is not recommended for use on block pavers. These sometimes have a pigment, and bleach would not only clean the stains but remove this pigment. For block pavers, the best method is to heat the oil stains with a torch and avoid using chemicals if at all possible.
How can I make my concrete white again?
If the concrete is not stained by oil, the best bet for making it uniformly white again would be to use a pressure washer. The discoloration of concrete is normally due to the build-up of dirt and mold. A pressure washer will safely remove caked-on material and leave the concrete clean and white.
What does hydrogen peroxide do to concrete?
Peroxide works similarly to dish soap on concrete. It requires a fair bit of scrubbing and is less effective at removing stains. While you could use hydrogen peroxide to remove small cooking oil stains from concrete, it is not recommended for large automotive-related oil stains on floors or driveways.
What happens if you leave bleach on concrete?
Leaving bleach on concrete reacts similarly to using vinegar to clean concrete. The bleach is fine for spot cleaning and rinsing, but once left on concrete for an extended period, the bleach will eventually begin to break down the sealant used to protect the concrete. This could cause long-term, irreversible damage to the surface.
A little oil spill on your concrete is not the end of the world. As long as you address the situation properly, decipher what the spill is, and use this article to perform the most appropriate cleanup method, your concrete will not be ruined forever.
It is time-consuming and can sometimes be expensive to clean oil stains from concrete, so if you foresee oil spills being a regular occurrence, you may want to look into sealing or coating the concrete area with something that makes cleanup less strenuous. For random spills or old stains you want to remove, stick to the methods we have discussed in this article.