How do you remove oil stains from a driveway?

Household 2 min read

Whether your vehicle is leaking oil, brake fluid, or power steering fluid, essential automotive fluids can damage your driveway by leaving unsightly stains behind. If you want to clean these stains effectively, you’ll have the best luck if you catch them quickly and use the right products. Jonathan Gunther, co-founder of Brakes to Go, a mobile brake repair company in Texas, tells us how.

How do I soak up oil and other automotive fluids?

To soak up the excess motor oil or fluid, you should spread cat litter over the fresh stain and let it sit for several minutes. In addition to soaking up the excess fluid, the cat litter will minimize the stain by pulling fluid out of the cement. After you’ve soaked up as much as you can, sweep the cat litter into a bag and dispose of it properly.

How do I clean oil off of my concrete driveway after soaking up excess fluid?

If a stain remains after collecting the excess liquid, or you want to remove an older stain, you have a few options. You can start by dousing the spill with dish soap and water to remove oil from the driveway. “We’ve all seen the dish soap commercial where they’re cleaning the little birds from oil spills,” says Ganther. “Hopefully, if the stain is new enough, the dish soap eats through it and gets it out.”

If using dish soap doesn’t work, you can try spraying the stain with oven cleaner, WD-40, or a mixture of bleach and water and letting it soak for a few minutes. Then scrub it with a brush or a piece of steel wool and repeat the process until the stain is gone. Ganther warns that you should be careful not to spread the oil around and make the stain worse during this process.

How do I clean up brake fluid from concrete?

You can remove power steering fluid or brake fluid from your driveway with the same detergent and solvents used to remove oil. Gather notes that it can be easier to remove stains from brake and steering fluids because they are lighter in color than the oil.

What about asphalt driveways?

If your driveway is asphalt instead of concrete, it’s probably best to skip the solvents because they might lighten your driveway. “I don’t know if I would use anything other than dish soap on asphalt. The other solvents [can] bleach or color. You’d make the black driveway look worse,” says Ganther.

How do I dispose of products used to clean oil stains?

If you’re using products that are stronger than dish soap, they may contain harsh chemicals that may be harmful to the environment. You shouldn’t allow them to run into the grass or down the sewer. If you have oil-soaked rags, you shouldn’t throw them in the trash. “You have to take them to a recycling center or hazardous waste center. You’re not supposed to clean up oil and just throw it away,” says Ganther.

The disposal of household hazardous waste is regulated by state and local authorities. Check with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in your state before disposing of any products.

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