How to remove oil & automotive stains from concrete
Last updated: October 2022
Unsightly oil and other types of stains can typically be removed from concrete with the aid of household materials and products, says Forbes. But it’ll take trial and error to figure out what works best for your particular stain and concrete. For instance, try a scrub brush and some paste or dish soap, advises the Concrete Network. Degreaser can also be an effective way to loosen oil.
Whichever chemical you use, hot water tends to work best because it can begin separating oil from the concrete surface.
Regardless of whether a spot is new or old, follow these steps to help remove oil or other automotive stains from your paved driveway or uncoated concrete garage floor.
Common household products used to remove oil stains
There are many common household products that you may already have which can help remove oil stains from your garage floor or driveway. It may take trial and error to see which work best on your particular stain, but depending on what’s available in your home, you might try some of these products – and even a combination of them.
Clay-based kitty litter could help soak up a fresh spill on concrete or asphalt, according to Bob Vila. It may take a few hours to absorb it enough to begin sweeping.
If there is still residue after applying cat litter, then you might use a few cans of cola, says Reader’s Digest. Room temperature is ideal, adds CNET. Pour soda on the stained area and leave it there anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours before wiping it up. You might even use a scrub brush or bristle broom to work the soda into the stain.
Baking soda has chemical properties that can help dissolve grease and dirt, according to House Digest. And it’s just abrasive enough to remove the stain without harming the surface.
An effective way to use baking soda, says Better Homes & Gardens (BHG), is to first use an absorbent. like cat litter. Then scrub it with a mixture of baking soda and water, which forms a paste.
Powdered laundry detergent can also be effective, says BHG. Sprinkle the oil spill, add warm water to create a paste and scrub it for two minutes. After it sits for 15 minutes, scrub the area again and rinse.
Spray grease oil or transmission stains with oven cleaner and let it sit for about 10 minutes, advises Reader’s Digest. Then scrub and rinse it off.
But beware of harmful chemicals getting into your garden bed, Bob Vila cautions. Consider using a product that is biodegradable – it’ll likely say so on the canister. Also note that stubborn stains may need more than one round.
WD-40WD-40 can do more than eliminate unpleasant door squeaks – it may also help remove oil stains in your driveway, according to Reader’s Digest. That’s because it has ingredients that can penetrate grease. Spray a liberal amount on the area and let it sit for 20 minutes, adds Organic Lesson, then wipe the area clean.
Concrete cleaner or degreaser
The solution is in the names themselves. Concrete cleaner and degreaser could lift and remove unsightly stains, according to the Concrete Network. Old stains are particularly difficult to remove. Using a combination of cat litter and degreaser may do the trick, says Organic Lesson.
How to remove oil stains
Oil can leave a dark stain on pavement, but you may be able to clean even stubborn spots out of your driveway. Good Housekeeping suggests following these steps to get oil stains out of your driveway or garage floor:
- If the spill is still wet, cover the stain with clay cat litter, sand, cornmeal, cornstarch or baking soda. This will help absorb the oil before it soaks into the cement.
- Once the spill has dried, sweep up the absorbent material. Then, wet the stain with water. If it's a set-in stain, start the removal process by spraying the stain with water.
- Use a stiff brush, such as a broom, and scrub the area with a paste made of baking soda and water.
- Use a hose to rinse the pavement clean. Let it air dry.
Another process you can try to remove oil stains:
- Covering the stain with spray lubricant and then rinsing with water, says Reader's Digest.
- Putting a paste of powdered laundry detergent and water on the stain, says BobVila.com. After letting it sit, scrub it with a broom or brush and rinse the spot off with water.
- Scrubbing the stain with a grease-cutting dish detergent and a stiff broom, according to BobVila.com.
- Spraying the oil spot with a microbial stain remover, says The Spruce. This type of stain remover is biodegradable, and you can later clean the area with soap and water.
How to remove transmission fluid stains
Transmission fluid spills or leaks may leave a bright red stain on light-colored concrete. Here are some suggested steps for removing the stain from Reader's Digest:
- Spray the stain with oven cleaner and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub the spot. Then, rinse with a hose at its highest pressure.
- If the stain is still there, repeat the process.
Also, excessive stains could signify vehicle issues. That’s why it’s important to have maintenance done regularly to ensure that everything is working properly – and before issues become too costly.
While auto insurance typically doesn’t cover maintenance issues, it can help cover sudden accidents that can lead to damaged components. If you’re unsure what your auto policy covers, make sure to check with your insurer.