How To Remove Oil Stains From Concrete (5 Easy Ways)

Motor oil stains might seem low priority compared with the car trouble or yard chores that often cause them. In fact, you might even assume that oil stains on a garage floor or driveway are inevitable with time.

However, there are ways to get these stains up, more so if you tackle them soon as you can. This article tells you the best concrete oil stain removers—as well as safety advice and best practices.

There are many types of oil stains you could end up with on your concrete. In your driveway or garage, you might have motor oil stains—brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, or gasoline stains.

On interior concrete surfaces, usually kitchen countertops or floors, you might get cooking oil and grease stains.

Fortunately, all of these oil stains are removed by many of the same cleaning methods, especially if you act promptly. Also, note that most methods to clean concrete stains will also work with oil stains on other solid porous surfaces—asphalt, cement, clay, or grout.

Note: be careful with some of the harsher methods below if your concrete is painted such as in a garage, as you may end up removing the paint as well.

concrete paint

5 Ways of Removing Oil Stains from Concrete

  1. 1
    With detergent: Here, detergent could be any household soap product—OxiClean, Tide, Comet with Bleach, Dawn Dish Soap, Ajax, etc. Just wet the oil-stained concrete, then apply the detergent liberally and leave it for a few minutes; use a large sturdy (possibly nylon) brush to scrub, and then rinse the surface off.
  2. 2
    Using baking soda: First, try a paste of baking soda and water left to set for a few minutes, then scrub. If the stain does not respond, try baking soda pasted with a solvent, such as acetone, lacquer thinner, or even bleach. Because it is a mild base, baking soda is usually safe to mix with other chemicals, but always wear gloves and goggles, and ensure ventilation (if using inside) before using mixed-chemical pastes.
  3. 3
    Using other household items: It turns out that WD-40 and Coca-Cola (separately) are great to try on concrete oil stains. Use them similar to others—apply, allow to set, and then scrub and rinse off.*Muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) could sound like a good idea if nothing else is working, but it is a dangerous choice, as it is highly corrosive and toxic.
  4. 4
    With cat litter: Cat litter is the best absorbent to soak up extra oil by itself or mixed with a solvent, such as hydrogen peroxide, bleach, or acetone. If you do not have cat litter, consider flour, baking soda, powdered sugar, or even sawdust as absorbent materials. Allow the absorbent of choice to sit on the stain for an hour or so, and then scoop it up.
  5. 5
    With a commercial degreaser: If you have an old oil stain or home concoctions do not work, it is probably worth purchasing a commercial degreaser. This does not have to mean something highly toxic. Simple Green has an extensive line of cleansers that are safe for the environment but still effective at removing a variety of motor oil and other stains from surfaces.

How to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete Surfaces

Where you get oil stains depends on your household and habits. Most commonly, people get vehicle oil stains in their garages and tool sheds and grease stains on kitchen floors or outdoor cooking areas/ patios.

Many of the same approaches that work for concrete driveways also work for concrete garage, shed, or kitchen floors—as well as patio concrete pavers. However, beware of ventilation and safety issues when working in an interior space, especially if it is close to family living areas.

Removing Oil Stains From Concrete

Driveway

  • This is the best first try to remove car oil from a concrete driveway: Apply an absorbent material (cat litter is best) and give it a few hours to absorb the oil before scooping it up. Then follow this with a household detergent (could be anything from dish soap or powdered laundry detergent to Comet with Bleach or Borax). Let the detergent sit on the stain for an hour. Then, use a large, sturdy brush to scrub with the detergent thoroughly. Last, douse the area with water, ideally hot or even boiling.
  • If you need to take it to the next level, treat and scrub with diluted bleach, TSP (a strongly alkaline chemical used for pre-paint prep), or a phosphate-free TSP substitute.
  • An easier alternative is purchasing a degreaser cleaning product (as mentioned above).
  • If your stain covers a large area and this sounds like too many chemicals, a microbial concrete cleaner might be the solution.

Garage floor or tool shed

  • If it is an old oil stain, try step 1, possibly followed by steps 3 and 4 above, as for a driveway. Otherwise, first try just wiping it up.
  • Alternatively—also for an old oil stain—make a paste/poultice of absorbent material (as cat litter) and a paint/industrial solvent (MEK, xylene, lacquer thinner, or acetone). Cover the coating with taped down plastic (you can use a trash bag) to leave it for about a day, before scooping it up and dousing the area with water, ideally warm or even boiling.

* Wear hand, eye, and even face protection when using strong chemicals. If you find yourself working with potentially volatile chemicals frequently, consider investing in a respirator mask.

Concrete pavers

If an oil stain does not simply wipe up, use step 1 as you would for a driveway.

oil stains concrete pavers

Removing Cooking Oil Stains from Concrete

In the kitchen, greasy stains—such as vegetable or other cooking oil—can be hard to remove from concrete, especially if they are old stains. The best way to offset the problem is to wipe the spill up as soon as you can.

If a stain remains, use an absorbent as you would for other concrete surfaces. If you feel funny about using cat litter on the kitchen floor, though, consider powdered sugar, flour, or a sweeping compound.

If, after scooping up the absorbent, there is still a stain, scrub with a sturdy scrub brush and a household detergent mixed with water.

How To Remove Cooking Oil From Concrete

People also Ask (FAQs)

What happens if you leave bleach on concrete?

Bleach is not the typical go-to for motor oil stains since it is toxic; furthermore, if you leave bleach on concrete, it can cause discoloration.

Will bleach clean block paving?

Discoloration risks notwithstanding, diluted bleach can act as a detergent or be pasted with an absorbent to remove oil on block paving and similar surfaces.

Is vinegar effective in removing oil stains from concrete?

Vinegar is the best way to remove motor oil stains, but it could work as a solvent pasted with an absorbent material. This might be a good choice for cooking oil stains on kitchen concrete, as it is easy and safe to use.

How can I make my concrete white again?

Pressure washing is not the best way to remove oil stains from concrete, but if your concrete seems generally discolored, even after sweeping/blowing and stain removal, then you should try pressure washing.

What chemical will clean concrete?

Really, the best oil remover for concrete is an extensive soak and scrub with your favorite household cleaner.

Can concrete sealer help prevent stains?

Yes, this is a good approach to prevent oil stains. However, do not try to cover up a pre-existing stain with a sealer or other top coating because the oil absorbed in the concrete below can soak up into it.


Conclusion

There are so many ways to get oil stains out of concrete. However, with so many options, you have to make judgment calls: how powerful the cleaner(s) should be, how many times to repeat a given approach before trying another, and what measures need to be taken to ensure safety and minimize toxicity.

Fortunately, most concrete oil stains come out with just detergent, water, and diligent scrubbing.


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