Few things are more satisfying than completing a DIY job on your car or changing its oil yourself. That is, until you look down and see chemicals and oil all over your clothes, your concrete driveway or your garage floor. Don’t fret, though — here are some tips for removing oil stains from concrete.
Soak Up the Liquid
First of all, act quickly. The longer the oil sits on any surface, the harder it will be to remove. If you have a cat, you can use their kitty litter to soak up what’s still liquid. If you don’t have a cat, just run down to the store and buy a bag. Pour the litter right onto the puddle and allow it to sit for about half an hour, then scoop up the litter. You’ll see it has absorbed most, if not all, of the surface oil.
Remove the Oil Stain
After the excess liquid has been absorbed, you’re down to the stain. Here are some of the most popular methods for removing oil stains from concrete:
- Detergent and a Scrub Brush: Odds are good that all you’ll have to do is run into the kitchen and grab dish detergent and a scrub brush. Pour the detergent onto the oil, let it sit for a minute and then start scrubbing. Rinse it off with water from a bucket or hose and, if necessary, repeat. A sponge can be handy, too — it can help soak up the grease as it breaks down.
- Cola: The soft drink has acids that can break down the grease in the stain. Pour it onto the stain, give it a minute for the acids to get to work and then scrub the stain with a brush and rinse with either a garden hose or a pressure washer.
- Bleach: One more item you probably have on hand that will save you a run to the store is bleach. As with the cola, use the bleach first, then follow up with a good blast of water.
- Concrete and Driveway Cleaners: There are also specially formulated concrete and driveway cleaners available. Just follow the instructions on the package.
- Poultice: If you’re more the natural, organic type, you can use a poultice, which is a soft, moist mass, typically made of plant material, herbs or cloth, that’s used to relieve soreness and inflammation. In the 19th century, doctors thought they could use it to draw infection out of the body. Not so much. But it will draw oil and grease away from concrete, soaking them up without using chemicals.
- Microorganism-Based Stain Remover: You can also find oil stain removers that are microorganism based. The microorganisms eat the oil, and when it’s all gone, they simply die off.
Whichever approach you take, a good hosing down of the driveway is the right way to finish. You can use your garden hose with the old trick of turning the water up to full force and placing your thumb partly over the opening for a more powerful spray. Alternatively, you could use a pressure washer, which has the necessary strength to wash away dirt, grime and chemicals.
Check out all the pressure washers available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on removing oil stains from concrete, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.