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You might have the greatest garage or driveway in the world, but if your concrete is spattered with stains and dirt, you’re not going to feel like it. Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Some of the best, most well-equipped garages in the world have neglected floors. The difference between you and them is that you’re here to do something about it.
The oils in your vehicle, or even the ones in lawn equipment like lawnmowers and weed whackers, come in a few different colors, but no matter the hue, they can cause a big hassle in the cleanup. It’s always best to catch a spill as soon as it happens to clean it up, but all hope is not lost if you don’t get to it right away.
In this post, The Drive’s editors also discuss what to do if you have a fresh spill or one that has had time to soak in. The process is a little different, depending on how long the oil has had to penetrate the concrete, but almost anything is fixable. It’s best if you can work to prevent stains in the first place by using a concrete sealant or by having your floors coated.
Removing Oil Stains From Concrete Basics
Estimated Time Needed: One to two hours, depending on the stain and your effort level
Skill Level: Beginner
Vehicle System: Garage
What Are Oil Stains?
Your vehicle is full of colorful liquids that can leak out if it’s not properly maintained. Sometimes, you just make a mistake and spill something. Other times, well, we’re not saying catastrophic engine failure, but it was definitely catastrophic engine failure.
Oil stains happen when a leak or spill occurs that involves engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, or another thick liquid. They’re a problem because oils are sometimes resistant to everyday cleaners and once they’ve had time to set into the concrete area they are difficult to remove.
Removing Oil Stains From Concrete Safety
Don’t become complacent, just because you’re not dealing with sharp things or fire.
- Wear gloves and eye coverings. Degreaser can be nasty stuff.
- Read the label on whatever you’re using to clean the spill. You don’t want to be washing hazardous materials down the drain.
- Store your cleaners as directed. They can lose effectiveness if stored improperly.
- Keep pets and kids away from the spill, even if it’s no longer “wet.” Animals sometimes eat things they shouldn’t, and kids will be kids.
Everything You’ll Need To Remove Oil Stains From Concrete
Depending on how long the stain has been on your floor or driveway, you have a few options for cleaning products. Choose wisely.
- Hose or pressure washer
- Broom or brush
- Safety glasses
- Cat litter, sand, cornmeal, or baking soda – if the stain is still wet
- Chemical solvent/cleaner/degreaser
- Dish soap
Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won’t need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)
You’ll also need a driveway, duh.
Here’s How To Remove Oil Stains From Concrete
There are a couple of different ways to go about cleaning up stains, but some are only really useful if it’s a fresh stain that hasn’t had time to seep into every crack in the concrete.
Let’s do this!
Contain And Clean A Fresh Stain
- Once you’ve seen the spill, you’ll need to take steps to contain it.
- Use a product like Oil Dry, or kitty litter, sand, corn starch, cornmeal, or even baking soda to completely cover the spill area. You’ll need to put down a decent amount to soak up the oil.
- Give it some time. Allow at least ten minutes for the litter or other material to do its job.
- Once the stain has soaked into the material as much as possible, use a broom or brush to sweep the material into a dustpan for disposal.
- Any remaining oil should be dried up with a paper towel and the marks left behind on the concrete can be cleaned with dish soap and a brush.
Cleaning A Set-In Stain
- If the stain has had time to set in, you might need to resort to the heavy-duty stuff.
- Make sure any remaining liquid on the stain has been wiped away.
- Apply the degreaser to the stain and scrub it in with a brush. Be sure to cover the entire stain.
- If the cleaning product lists a waiting time, let it sit for the required period of time to ensure that it’s doing its job.
- Once the degreaser is ready to be removed, hose off the excess, making sure to spray toward your garage door.
- If this process makes you feel like you’re killing dolphins in the ocean, you can use kitty litter or another absorbent material to soak up the degreaser and then wipe or rinse away the excess.
Get Help With Removing Oil Stains From Concrete From a Mechanic On JustAnswer
Although The Drive’s detailed how-to guides are easy to follow, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or a messy oil leak can derail a project. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs.
So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you.
Pro Tips to Remove Oil Stains From Concrete
- Oil stains aren’t as serious as missing persons reports, time is of the essence. If you spill oil on concrete, try to contain and clean it up as quickly as possible to save yourself some scrubbing time later on.
- Degreaser usually does the trick, but if it doesn’t, there are special products that use bacteria and other organisms to “eat” or dissolve the oil. Just be sure to follow the directions so you don’t injure yourself or ruin your floor.
- If for some reason you spill oil frequently, it might be worth investing in a special coating to prevent stains.
FAQs About Removing Oil Stains From Concrete
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. Can I Clean Old Oil Stains?
A. Yes, you can, but it’s much easier to clean a stain that hasn’t had time to become part of the scenery.
Q. I Spilled A Large Amount Of Oil. Now What?
A. First, stop asking questions and start containing the spill! Next, it’s best to call your local town office or environmental protection services. They’ll be able to give advice to help clean up, can advise neighbors on any health issues, and may even come out to help clean up efforts.
Q. That Sounds Like Trouble For The Environment. Aren’t Cleaning Products Just As Bad?
A. In some cases, yes, but you’ll notice that we advised you to use litter or another absorbent product to soak up the excess cleaning products.
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