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Article by george@lockstep.media / January 10th, 2022

How To Clean Oil Stains from Your Driveway

A spotless driveway looks cool but keeping it that way is not easy. Oil drips and splotches always make their way to the driveway ruining its beauty. If your driveway is new, even a tiny oil drip will blemish the look. In case you just spent some good bucks for professional driveway maintenance, a new oil splotch means all that money is going down the drain. Oil stains on the driveway are all it takes to dwindle the aesthetics of your property.  

The problem is, no matter how well you maintain your vehicle, oil leakages are only common. So, while it is important to make sure that your car is in the right condition, knowing how to clean oil off the driveway quickly can be of actual help. The good news is – you do not always need professional help to remove the oil stains. There are a bunch of products and cleaners that can be used efficiently to take the strain off from concrete or asphalt driveways. 

Concrete is porous and absorbs oil readily, but with a little effort, you can surely get rid of the splotches. Read on to find out how to clean oil stains from the driveway.

Cleaning Off The Driveway Oil Stains 

Before you start the actual cleaning, you should follow a few preparatory steps. First, collect all the items you will need for cleaning. Check the list below and add anything else that you might need for the process,

  • Cleaning products as chosen from the list below 
  • A hard broom 
  • A heavy-duty cleaning brushes 
  • Gloves 
  • Goggles 
  • Water     

Once you have these items ready at hand, take a quick look at the plants or landscape surrounding the driveway. You do not want the runaway water with detergents and chemicals to ruin the plants or the landscape. It is a good idea to water the surrounding area before using any chemicals and then wash them off again once you are done cleaning.   

Always keep in mind that it is easy to get rid of an oil stain when it is fresh rather than when it gets old. So, try to clean the splotches as early as possible. It will reduce the cleaning time and also the effort you will have to put on. 

How To Use Household Products To Remove Oil Stains From The Driveway       

If you are thinking about what to use to clean oil off the driveway, here are all the details you need, 

  1. Cat Litter, Baking Soda, And Dishwasher   

A potent combination for cleaning oil stains from the driveways. Cat litter is an excellent oil absorbent. If the oil spill is fresh, cat litter can be extremely helpful in removing the stain. Cat litter is made from super-absorbent clay, which makes it ideal for absorbing oils.

Here is how to use these powerful cleaning agents in the right way,

  • Spread enough cat litter on the oil spill and let it absorb the oil for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Sweep the litter away from the spot with a broom. Scoop it up and discard.
  • Once the excess oil has been removed by the cat litter, make a thick paste with baking soda and normal water. Spread this mixture on the stain and let it stand for 10 minutes before scrubbing with a brush. 
  • Wash the paste off the place with plain water. Baking soda is an alkali and a superb household cleaning agent. It will help to dissolve and remove the grease. 
  • Next, squirt some dish soap directly on the stain and let it stand for a few minutes. Dish soaps are formulated to cut the grease. So, they are effective in getting rid of any remaining oil stains. 
  • Add some water and scrub the stain with a heavy-duty brush before washing off with plain water. Driveways are made of concrete or asphalt that can withstand heavy scrubbing.  

Note: Stick to the inexpensive cat litters. The more expensive ones often contain other fillers that might reduce the absorbency of the litter. 

  1. Oven Cleaner, Cornstarch, And Dishwasher 

Oven cleaners are specifically formulated with chemicals that can dissolve grease and dirt with ease. This easy-available cleaning agent can do miracles to clean the driveway as well. If you are wondering how to clean oil stains from the driveway with oven cleaner, read on. 

  • For fresh oil stains, cornstarch works as an efficient absorbent. First, add enough cornstarch or cornmeal on the spot to absorb any excess oil. Remove the cornstarch with a broom and discard. 
  • Next, spray the oven cleaner on the spot and let it settle for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the application if needed. You should use enough oven cleaner to cover the spot properly. 
  • Now, add the dishwasher liquid on the spot. Let it settle before adding water and scrubbing it off with a hard bristle brush. Wash off with plain water.

You may need to repeat the process, starting from step 2, to get rid of the stain completely if the stain is old. While repeating, make sure that you apply the oven cleaner only after the surface has dried out completely.    

  1. Heavy-Duty Laundry Detergent Powder 

You are just back from a trip, and as you dash out from the car, you find a fresh oil spill right on your new driveway. Leave it for now, will see later – it is the first thing in your mind, right? But not taking any measures immediately will only make the stain much difficult to remove. Here we have a quick fix for such situations. If you are wondering how to clean oil spills on the driveway for the minimum hassle, try out this single ingredient process. 

  • Spread heavy-duty detergent powder on the fresh oil spill. Make sure that the spill is completely covered with the detergent. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The dry detergent will absorb the excess oil quickly.
  • If the detergent changes color after absorbing the oil, scoop it off and discard it. Add more detergent powder to the spot and scrub it for a couple of minutes with a strong bristle brush.  
  • Next, add warm water with the detergent and continue scrubbing for at least 2-4 minutes. Clean off with plain water.  

It is a quick and efficient process to get rid of oil stains on the driveway. You need only one ingredient, which is always available at home, to do the cleanup. 

  1. Sawdust And Paint Thinner  

If you are a DIY enthusiast, you must have sawdust and paint thinner in your workshop. Even if you are not into DIYs, these are often readily available at home. This combination makes a powerful oil stain cleaner for driveways. Paint thinner will dissolve the oil, while the sawdust will absorb it quickly.

  • Mix paint thinner with sufficient sawdust to make a thick paste and apply it all over the stain. Let it sit for around 30 minutes. You should use the paste in excess to make sure that all the oil has been absorbed properly. 
  • Remove the sawdust with a broom and discard. If needed, repeat the process before moving to the next step. 
  • Add some liquid dishwasher on the spot and scrub it with a hard bristle brush for at least 2-3 minutes. Wash off with normal water. 

If the oil spill is still wet, the stain might be removed just by applying the sawdust and paint thinner mixture. You might need to repeat the process for tougher stains. You may not need the liquid dishwasher at all, depending on the intensity of the stain.   

  1. Concrete Cleaner 

Commercial grade concrete cleaners can remove oil stains from concrete driveways efficiently. If the spot is fresh, the result is often instant, and the stain can be removed completely. If it is an old spot or if the concrete driveway has a dense finish, one-time use might not remove the stain entirely. In that case, you must repeat the process and use a bleaching agent afterward.  

Here is how to clean oil off the concrete driveway with a commercial concrete cleaner,  

  • If the stain is still wet, soak off the excess oil with a rag or paper towel. If the stain is older, remove any loose dirt from the spot with a good sweeping before proceeding to the next step. 
  • Apply enough commercial concrete cleaner cum degreaser on the spot and let it sit for some time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging to decide how long you must wait. 
  • Scrub the spot with a heavy-duty brush before adding water. Scrub again before washing off the cleanser completely with plain water. 

Note: When you are using a commercial formula, it is important to follow the instructions mentioned by the manufacturer. The above is a general guideline that must be customized/altered according to the exact formula you are using. 

  1. Microbial Stain Remover 

Microbial stain removers are the new player in the market. The best thing about these products is that they are completely eco-friendly, and they do actually work. These cleaners will not damage the surface or harm the plants and landscape surrounding the area. Microbial stain removers contain oil-digesting microorganisms to break down the oil and clear the spot.

If you are wondering how to clean an oil leak on the driveway with oil-digesting microbes, here is what you need to do.   

  • Lightly sprinkle the microbial stain cleaner on the oil spot. Use a broom for sweeping it across. Make sure that the powder covers the stain completely. 
  • If you live in an extremely dry climate, adding a few pumps of water from a spray bottle on the top of the powder will speed up the process. 
  • And that is all. You need not scrub or use water to clean the spot. The microbes in the cleaner will eat the grease and remove the spot within one to three weeks. 

Microbial cleaners are certainly a good option, but there are a few downsides too. High temperatures will hinder the action of microbial cleaners. During summer, the temperature of concrete or asphalt driveways often goes up as it quickly absorbs heat. The cleaner will not work if the temperature is around 140-degree F. Also, it will take at least one to three weeks to remove the stain completely. 

Concrete Cleaner by TERMINATOR-HSD, BacKrete Eco-friendly Concrete Cleaner, and ACT Concrete Cleaner are some of the most popular microbial stain removers available in the market.  

Note: Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before using any microbial stain remover.    

  1. WD-40 

If you have a can of WD-40 lying somewhere in your garage, it is time to know how you can put it into good use. This multi-purpose solvent is an amazing degreaser and oil spot cleaner. It works great to remove oil stains from the driveway too. An oil spill that is still wet can be removed completely with only WD-40. For older and more intense spots, you might need to follow up with a few more steps. 

  • If the stain is still wet, soak the excess oil from the spot with an absorbing sponge or paper towel. 
  • Spray a generous amount of WD-40 directly on the spot and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Wipe off the area with a thick rug, and that might solve the problem. 
  • If there is still some stain, add some liquid dishwasher on the spot and give it a good scrub with a heavy-duty brush before adding warm water. 
  1. Power Washing 

Power washing can efficiently remove new and old oil stains from concrete or asphalt driveways. In case you do not own a power washer, you can rent one from your local hardware store. These devices are easy to use and can quickly remove any stain. Use a proper driveway cleaner with the power washer to get the best results. Check the instructions on the formula to select the right product for the purpose. 

Conclusion

Now you know the several ways of how to clean oil leaks on the driveway. Starting with commonly available household cleaning agents to professional-grade cleaners and power washing – the list is long. You should choose a method depending on the age and strength of the stain to get the best results. Always remember, fresh stains are much easier to remove than old ones. So, clean it sooner rather than later.   

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