Want to know how to remove oil stains from concrete? Oil spills are a very common type of accident when you're doing work outdoors, especially in your garage or driveway. Whether you were replacing oil in your car or spilled some decking oil you were carrying to your backyard, you'll want to get rid of that oil stain on your beautiful concrete driveway ASAP.
Fortunately, if concrete is part of your driveway design and you've spilled oil on it, you can remove the stains effectively. It's best to follow expert advice while doing this, however, as it will increase your chances of success. The thing with oil is that it will permeate concrete fast – if you let it. So, act quickly with this know-how in mind.
How to to remove oil stains from concrete
1. Use a degreaser
2. Make a baking soda paste
No WD-40? Not a problem. Now is the time to discover the power of baking soda cleaning.Mason-Smith praises baking soda as 'a DIY solution' to oil stains and even says that you can use laundry powdered detergent instead. All you need to do is:
3. Use liquid detergent and a brush
According to Severson, 'if you don’t want to buy a bottle of degreaser, a liquid detergent and a scrub brush will do the trick.' The brush is key here – choose one that is stiff and will really help you mechanically remove the stain. A heavy-duty brush can be bought from Amazon, among many other places.
Mark Osborne, Director at Country Hardwood, also recommends adding a bit of alcohol to your dishsoap mixture to make it even more effective.
4. Try vinegar
Vinegar is another great option when you don't have anything else handy. Osborneexplains that vinegar 'functions as an organic degreaser and is readily available at a low cost. It isn't very aggressive when it comes to the toughest spots, but it is worth a shot.'
Vinegar will be most effective on fresh stains that haven't had the time to really penetrate your concrete drive.
5. Use borax
Stephanie Booth, who makes cleaning and home organization videos on TikTok and Instagram, offers a personally proven method for removing both fresh and set-in oil stains from concrete. It uses borax, also known as sodium borate. Booth explains that 'because borax is an emulsifier, it's perfect for breaking down oil stains.'
To clean oil stains off concrete using borax:
6. Rediscover the power of Lestoil
Booth has another brilliant stain-removal method using 'an old-school cleaning product called Lestoil. It's a heavy duty all-purpose cleaner invented back in the 1930s. A lot of people have forgotten how useful it is.'
Here's what you'll need to do:
How to prevent oil stains on concrete
You've guessed this one already: prevention is better than cure, which is true of any stain, on any surface. As qualified builder and DIY teacher at Bangingtoolbox.com. Aaron Barnett puts it, 'whether you are working on your car, boat, motorbike, woodworking project, or lubricating a garage door, it is best to prevent any stains in the first place.'
What's the best way to do this? Barnett recommends laying down 'an old sheet of plywood in the location you are doing any dirty work that has any risk of a spill. You can move the plywood sheet around with you as you work to catch any accidental oil drips. You can also lay your spanners, socket sets, and other tools you are using on the plywood so that they also move around with you as you move your spot or angle of work.'
Will an oil stain become permanent on concrete?
Corbin Mason-Smith at Superior Exterior Cleaning has a short and a long answer. The short answer is, unfortunately, 'yes.' The longer answer is that 'the longer time an oil stain has been on concrete the harder it will be to clean up. This is because over time the oil soaks into the concrete and this deep penetration makes it very challenging to remove.'
What counts as a fresh oil stain? A stain that's been there no longer than 10 minutes, which will give you time to quickly wipe up the excess and try to remove it. This will be much easier to remove than leaving it and trying to remove the stain from your concrete after it has penetrated.
Does cola remove stains from concrete?
You've probably noticed that we didn't include this much-promoted DIY remedy for oil stains in our list. The reason is that, in reality, it's not all that effective for oil stains on concrete. Severson explains that although cola does work on stains, 'it must be left on the stain overnight, and often requires more than one application. It's not the simplest solution, but will work in a pinch.'
You also likely will find that you need a lot of cola to erase the stain, so you might as well use something that won't require you to pour so much of it all over your driveway.