If you’ve ever tried to remove oil from concrete before, you know that it may seem impossible. If you’ve ever sought advice on the matter, you may have gotten the words “kitty litter and pray” in response. This won’t help too much, and those oil stains will keep driving down your real estate prices in the meantime. Unfortunately, unless you’re willing to invest in amphiphobic concrete, oil stains are going to be a part of life. Fortunately, this situation isn’t as dire as it may seem. And just like removing concrete forms, there are ways to remove unsightly oil stains from concrete—permanently.
Before you even start trying different cleaning solutions, you’re going to need to get the oil off of the concrete. As a matter of fact, kitty litter is very helpful in this situation. Covering the oil in a spill-absorbent substance—such as kitty litter, sawdust, or cornmeal—as soon as you can will minimize the severity of the stain, making it much easier to clean. Allow roughly an hour for the material to cover the stain if it is new. If the stain is older, however, you’ll have to wait longer and let it sit overnight.
Once you’ve let it sit, remove the absorbent and dispose of it in accordance with the laws in your area. In many places in the United States, there are strict regulations regarding the disposal of motor oil and motor oil-contaminated objects. Ensure that you are in compliance with these laws before proceeding.
Unsurprisingly, this has been a problem for such a long time that some products have been made specifically for it. These solutions are specifically made to remove oil, grease, and tire stains from your concrete driveways, sidewalks, or whatever else you have. It works by chemically breaking down the oil and thus facilitating its removal from the concrete pores. It goes without saying that these products tend to be the most reliable when it comes to removing oil stains from concrete and, as such, should be your first stop on the list of remedies.
If you can’t get ahold of concrete cleaner for whatever reason—low on funds, stores are closed, none nearby, etc.—fear not. There’s more than one way to slay a dragon, and there have been several methods tested by DIY concrete cleaners that have also gotten the job done just fine.
If it works for baked-on oily oven stains, it makes sense that it should work for oil stains on a driveway, right? As a matter of fact, oven cleaner has been shown to be an effective method for removing oil stains. Simply squirt the oven cleaner on the affected area and wait ten minutes. Scrub it clean with a firm bristle brush and spray it off with water. Keep going until the stain is gone.
It’s well-known that baking soda can remove stains from teeth, but did you know it can remove stains from concrete too? Apply baking soda to an oil stain in the same way you would oven cleaner, wait 20-30 minutes for it to absorb, and then rinse the area with your sprayer of choice. If it doesn’t work, pour a little more baking soda on the oil stain and scrub it with a wet, firm brush after a half-hour, then rinse it with water again.
Liquid detergent, in particular, is also a great method for taking oil out of concrete. Pour the detergent evenly on the oil stain, then add water and scrub with a stiff brush. Then give it a good rinse with a hose and take a minute to admire your work’s beauty. If there is still no beauty to admire, then you can try adding bleach as a booster and repeating the process, making sure to leave time for the bleach to take effect. 10-20 minutes should do the trick.
As the old southern adage goes: if it’s moving and shouldn’t, use duct tape. If it’s not moving and should, use WD-40. That oil stain isn’t moving, but as it happens, WD-40 can make it move just as easily as your cabinet hinges. If the oil stain on the concrete is still wet, soak up as much as you can with a paper towel. Then, generously spray your desired area with WD-40 and let it sit for five minutes. After that, wipe it clean with an old rag. If it doesn’t work, throw dish soap on what’s left of the stain and then pour hot water over it. Scrub the stain with a bristle brush, then throw a bucket of hot water over the area for good measure.
Yes, we’re serious. Coke has been a cleaning solution sworn on for generations. Some people swear that it’s the best way to clean oil off concrete, period. It’s still a mystery as to why it’s so effective, but it’s hard to deny the results. Pour two cans of Coke onto the oil stain, allow it to work its magic for a day, then rinse it out with a hose, and you should be good to go. If the stain isn’t gone, pour a couple of additional cans over the area and repeat.
What Is The Best Way to Remove Oil from Concrete?
Truthfully, the best way is the way that works for you. Maybe someday in the future, someone will perform a test using each method to determine a clear winner. However, as it stands, every method listed here is effective, and whichever one you feel like trying can be tried. You don’t need to rip up the entire slab and start over, but if you ever need a quality concrete form rental for your next project, we have you covered here at Forming America.