Every owner of a vehicle of any kind (motorboat, automobile, motorcycle) knows one of the worst parts about vehicle maintenance – those dreaded, ugly oil stains you get on your driveway or garage floor when you’re either hard at work in the shop maintaining your prized steed, or when your vehicle is just leaking oil. While your vehicle may look and run great after a few good hours in the garage, your driveway sure won’t with all that oil that got away from you.
So, how do you clean oil stains on pavement? Oil is naturally difficult to clean, especially off a surface like pavement, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips and tricks to clean up your driveway after playing grease monkey, and some ways to prevent it from happening.
Environmental warning – Oil is detrimental to water and ground, so be sure not to wash any oil down a storm strain or sewer. Oil is not taken in through water systems, so it goes right into our streams. Think green when you clean up oil – we all need to play our part and it’s the only earth we’ve got!
1. Cat litter.
If you’re fortunate enough to have both a motorcycle and an adorable little kitty, there are more uses for the litter you buy for it – you can use it to buff out and absorb oil and grease from your pavement.
The litter will absorb some of the oil, but this works best for when you first get oil on the ground and before the pavement absorbs it. If you drop some oil, this is a good way to absorb it first before using any of the other methods listed below.
It’s no secret that cola isn’t very healthy for you. If you’re looking to get rid of that sugar-high, artery clogging, syrupy goodness, why not use it on your driveway? It’s a simple trick to get rid of oil stains.
First, pour some lukewarm or room temperature cola on the oil stain and let it sit overnight. When you wake up in the morning, take some old towels and buff out the stain, rinsing any cola left over with a hose. If there is any stain leftover, you could use a strong household cleaner such as concentrated detergent.
3. Baking soda.
Another simple home remedy for oil stains is using baking soda. Really, what can’t you clean with baking soda? It really only works if it’s a fairly fresh stain, so you’ll want to take your garden hose and wash off as much of the stain as you can.
Afterwards, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the stain, scrubbing it vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush. Then, wash the paste off with your hose and let it air dry.
4. Oil soap, dish soap, and WD-40.
This method has a few steps and you need to do it on a cool, overcast day, but it is quite effective. Using Dawn dish soap, and apply a generous amount to the stain. Oil soap will not do well in hot temperature, so you’ll need to do it when it is overcast or cool outside. Let the mixture sit for one hour, then use an old towel or paper towels, vigorously buff the mixture the pavement.
If you’re working on your car, bike, or boat, you’ll probably already have some oil soap and WD-40 handy. After mixing the dish soap around the stain, completely cover it with Murphy’s oil soap and let it sit for a few hours. Sop up the soap once again, and completely cover the stain with WD-40. Let the mixture sit for a minute or so, then buff out with an old rag or paper towels. The stain should come right out.
5. Commercial concrete cleaner.
If nothing else is working, you may need to resort to using a commercial concrete cleaner. This can be expensive to buy, and you need to be sure that whatever kind you buy will work on your pavement, so it helps to get professional help with buying it if you plan to use it. Otherwise, you just might have a stain worse than oil to deal with.
Different cleaners, especially industrial strength ones, will affect different kinds of pavement differently, so be wary.
6. Try using some peat moss.
Put that peat moss in your yard to good use and roll a handful of it onto your pavement’s oil stains. Again, this works best with a fairly fresh stain, but it is nonetheless an eco-friendly, effective way to soak up oil before it settles too much.
7. Tarp to protect the ground.
To prevent getting stains on your driveway and garage floor, you should place down a strip of tarp or another kind of cover to prevent the oil from contacting the pavement.
Buy tarp long enough and wide enough to cover the area you plan to work on or where your car is leaking oil. When you clean the oil, don’t rinse it from the tarp onto grass or down a drain, as oil is harmful to the environment and can clog drains. Instead, use old rags or old towels to sop up the loose oil.
Another good way to keep oil from your pavement is simple cardboard – it is easier to clean than tarp, you probably have some kicking around your house, and it can be easily disposed of by recycling.
It’s not always possible to keep your garage and driveway oil stain free, so when those nasty spots settle in, there are many ways to get rid of them. Like all stains, it is best to prevent them by keeping the area covered, and if your vehicle is leaking oil, to keep the spot under where it is leaking covered as best as you can.
Furthermore, if your vehicle is leaking a lot of oil, you should either work on repairing it yourself if you have the means and know-how, or take it to a professional. This could point to bigger problems with your vehicle that you will need to deal with. So that’s how you get rid of oil stains on pavement! Follow whichever suggestion works best for you, and good luck!