How to Remove Oil Stains from Your Driveway

  • November 25, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Oil Stain

Oil stains on your driveway or the garage floor can be unsightly and can diminish the beauty of your home. It is very important that you know how to clean oil stains from your concrete driveway before sealing, resurfacing, or staining the concrete; otherwise, the oil will seep back through the surface and completely ruin your decorative treatment.

Oil Stain

It is quite possible that your driveway oil stains come from a leaking car or spills from filling up your car, snowblower, or lawnmower. Fluids such as gasoline, oil, and transmission fluid can leave a stain on your concrete driveway or garage floor. Oil stains are particularly difficult to remove and no amount of pressure washing or scrubbing can clean and eliminate them.

It may take some trial and error to discover the best method of removing oil stains from your driveway. In our article, we discuss some tried and tested ways on how to clean oil stains and how to remove stubborn oil stains. With a bit of effort and patience, you can learn how to remove oil stains from your driveway.

Since oil is a liquid, it keeps spreading and must be stopped. Once it stops spreading, the oil begins to dry up and if left unattended for a long time, it can create a bigger mess so you must act quickly. You can use talcum or baby powder for removing oil stains from your driveway. The powder absorbs and soaks up the oil without you requiring to touch it as you clean.

Powder in Jar

First, blot the excess oil using paper towels, a sponge, or an absorbent cloth. Then, sprinkle the powder on the oil and let it settle into the stain. When the oil has been soaked up by the powder, clean by brushing the powder off. If the stain has not gone away completely, repeat the process until the stain is removed.

Then, wash the area with water and mild detergent. You can also make use of corn starch as an oil stain remover instead of talcum or baby powder.

Cat Litter

However old the oil stain may be or even if it appears to be set in permanently, several oil stains still retain some moist residue. You will be quite surprised to know that cat litter is highly absorbent and is very effective in mopping up and removing oil spills completely.

Cat litter is essentially a mixture of clay minerals that are highly absorbent and can absorb water equal to their weight. However, expensive cat litter contains perfumes and tends to clump up and thus, is not helpful in removing the oil. The trick in removing oil stains from driveways is to use inexpensive cat litter.

If the oil stain is very recent or light, pour the cat litter on it and allow it to sit on the stain for around 15 to 20 minutes. However, if there is a lot of wet oil or if the oil stain is very large, let the cat litter sit on the oil overnight. Then, sweep up the litter. If the stain is still moist, repeat the entire process. However, you must take care not to reuse this cat litter and throw it away.

Finally, wash the area clean with a hard bristle brush and a concentrated detergent and rinse with clean water.

Sawdust and Paint Thinner

Paint thinners are essentially solvents that are used for thinning oil-based paints. Sawdust is a great absorbent that helps to soak up the oil. So when you want to clean oil stains, mixing both sawdust and paint thinner can give great results. Mix the sawdust and paint thinner until the sawdust is damp.

Sawdust

Spread the sawdust over the oil stain for around 20 to 30 minutes. Sweep clean the sawdust and check. If the stain does not get removed, repeat the process.

Detergent

Even though you may have hundreds of detergent brands on the market, practically all of them use the same technique to clean and fight stains. Explained in scientific terms, one end of the detergent molecule adheres to the grease, while the other end sticks to the water molecule.

When you use water to rinse the area, the water molecule carries away the grease leaving the area clean. So, detergents, especially heavy-duty liquid detergents, are ideal to clean and remove oil and grease stains from your driveway.

Spray the detergent directly on the oil stain or work the detergent into it. Wash the area with regular detergent and rinse with clean water. If the stain remains, repeat the process. You can also make use of powdered detergent to clean and remove the stains. Pour the hot water on the detergent and scrub the stain vigorously with a stiff bristle or a steel brush for a few minutes and then rinse the area clean with warm water or using a garden hose.

Coca Cola

While people around the world love drinking Coca Cola, there are other uses for the beverage too. Coke is popularly used as a cleaner and stain remover for removing rust and bloodstains and for cleaning tiles and toilets. Coke is also excellent for removing oil stains from clothes and concrete driveways too.

Soft Drink

So, how to remove oil stains from your driveway using Coca Cola? Pour around 60 ml or two cans of Coke onto the oil stain. Let it sit for a day and wash it off using clean water. Using Coke is probably the easiest and most inexpensive method to clean and remove oil stains from your driveway.

Poultice

You could use a poultice made up of a chemical solvent or a cleaner and an absorbent material like talc or sawdust, which are mixed and made into a thick paste. The cleaner or solvent helps to separate the stain and the absorbent will clean and soak up the oil causing the stain.

Use finely ground diatomaceous earth, fuller’s earth, whiting, hydrated lime, or talc and mix it with a solvent made of soap solution (soap with hot water) to this powder to make a thick poultice. Soak the oil stain with water and spread the poultice on the stain. Ensure that you cover the area beyond the stain too.

Once the poultice dries, scrape it clean or brush it off with a stiff brush. If the stain has not cleared up, then repeat the process.

Baking Soda

Baking soda has uses other than just being used for baking. It is a great deodorant, helps to extinguish fire, and is also a great cleaner. You can use baking soda in two ways to clean and remove oil stains from your driveway.

  • Pour baking soda on the oil spill and wait for a while for the oil to be absorbed. Then, rinse the area with clean water. If the stain is not removed, repeat the process.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda on the oil stain and using a wet brush, scrub clean the area. Rinse thoroughly with clean water using a garden hose or a bucket.

Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Vegetable Oil

If your car has leaked oil all night on your driveway, all that you need to clean and remove the oil stains are right in your kitchen. Get some baking soda, vinegar, vegetable oil, and pieces of cloth and sponges and follow the steps below.

Distilled White Vinegar
  • Pour the vinegar on the oil and let it rest for a few minutes.
  • Wipe clean the surface with a cloth. If the oil remains, put baking soda on a wet sponge and scrub the area.
  • Then, wipe the surface clean thoroughly with a wet cloth. If the oil stain still remains, then a valuable point to remember is that grease counters grease.
  • Pour some vegetable oil on a paper napkin and scrub the stained area.
  • Lastly, repeat the previous two steps with the vinegar and baking soda.
Front Yard in Autumn

Oil spills are quite unsightly and probably the most stubborn stains to remove and so, you must act quickly in case there has been a spill on your driveway. The more time you wait, the harder it will get to remove the stains. Some stains may be difficult to remove and thus, it may be a good idea to use more than one method to clean it up.

Now that you have learned how to remove oil stains from your driveway, it may be worthwhile to seal your driveway to prevent oil stains in the future. With the help of a high-quality driveway sealer, it takes less time and effort to clean up and costs less money for maintenance. Think of all the time and money you get to save!