One day, you might walk out to discover an oil leak that has pooled beneath your car’s undercarriage. Or maybe you just got overzealous while filling your car with new oil. Either way, if there’s oil on the ground, you’ll want to clean up the mess right away before the oily spot becomes a permanent mark in your driveway.
How you clean up an oil spot depends on whether the spot is old or fresh and whether the surface is a smooth garage floor or a rougher concrete or asphalt driveway.
Fresh Oil Spills
Plainly stated, the fresher the spill, the better your chances are of removing it.
Simply start by sprinkling a generous handful of an absorbent material, such as clay kitty litter, sawdust or corn starch, onto the spill. You may even want to step around on the material to ensure the absorbent granules are reaching into all the oil-soaked crevices. Just don’t do it wearing your favorite shoes. If the greasy patch is large, use a push-broom to spread the absorbent material evenly over the spill. Let the material do its job overnight, then sweep up and dispose of the mess the next day.
After you’ve removed the majority of the mess, your next step is to clean any oily residue from the ground. Dawn dish-washing soap is a very good degreaser, but other common household items, including cola, baking soda, powdered laundry detergent, oven cleaner or even WD-40 spray, can be equally effective methods of breaking down and removing oil before it permanently settles into the asphalt.
After removing excess oil, generously apply the cleaning agent onto the soiled cement. Give it a good scrub with a stiff brush; don’t use a wire brush on your garage floor, though. It can damage some smooth concrete finishes. If you choose to use laundry detergent, dish soap or baking soda, simply add water, scrub well and let it sit on the stain for about 30 minutes before rinsing off with a garden hose. If you use a can of cola, you can let that sit overnight. Oven cleaner only requires about 5 to 10 minutes before removal.
Stubborn Oil Leak Stains
Keep in mind that stubborn oil leak stains may require additional applications of degreasing products. If you’re finding that nothing is working, you may want to step up to heavy-duty degreasers or any commercial cleanser that contains oil-eating microbes.
Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. If you have questions about how to clean up an oil leak, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.