Oily Situation? Removing Oil Stains From Driveways, Walkways, And Garage Floors

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Oily Situation? Removing Oil Stains From Driveways, Walkways, And Garage Floors

19 February 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

With spring quickly approaching, you may be planning a few projects to improve your home's exterior. From freshening up your landscaping to washing your exterior siding, there are many ways to enhance your home's curb appeal. Unfortunately, you may not be placing enough time and effort into your driveway and walkways. Considering these surfaces see a great deal of abuse over the years, the concrete may stain or begin to deteriorate without proper maintenance.

Most homeowners park their vehicles in their driveway or inside the garage. In most cases, oil, water, and antifreeze will leak out from under your vehicle and discolor these concrete surfaces. To prevent expensive resurfacing treatments that cost an estimated $2,000, use this guide to remove the oil spots from your concrete driveway, walkways, and garage floor.

Cat Litter

While surprising to hear, an inexpensive bag of cat litter can remove the discoloration off most concrete surfaces. Be sure to choose a clay-based cat litter for fast cleanup of the dark stains.

Pour the bag of cat litter directly over the stain. Use a rake to spread the litter evenly over the stain. Then, stomp the litter into the surface with your foot. Allow it to soak and absorb into the concrete overnight.

In the morning, use a broom to sweep away the excess litter before rinsing the surface with your garden hose.

Laundry Detergent

If you still have a stain on your concrete, head into your home's laundry area. Liquid detergent, a bristle brush, and some elbow grease can remove the dark stains. Use the following technique:

  1. Rinse the area with your garden hose to dampen the concrete.
  2. In a bucket, mix 1 gallon of warm water with 1 cup of liquid laundry detergent.
  3. Pour a cup of the solution onto the stain and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Use your bristle brush to scrub the stain. Add more soapy solution as you scrub.
  5. Rinse the surface with your garden hose.
  6. Repeat the process 2-3 times if necessary.

The combination of detergent, scrubbing brush, and elbow grease is usually sufficient for removing dirt, residue, and hard stains. If there is still discoloration, a more involved cleaning chemical will be necessary.


Trisodium phosphate is one of the most popular chemicals for removing stubborn residue, mold, and tough stains since it contains mostly alkaline. Also known as TSP, the chemical can be rather harsh so proper precaution is necessary. Wearing the following protective gear is imperative when working with TSP:

  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Respirator Mask

Once prepared, combine the following in a bucket:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 ounce of trisodium phosphate
  • 1 cup of your preferred absorbent material – cat litter, baby powder, or diatomaceous earth are good options

Mix the ingredients to create a paste and apply a thick layer directly over the oil stain. Allow it to soak into the concrete for 30 minutes to an hour. Be patient as the cleaner works to break up the leftover oil and debris. In addition, the paste will absorb the excess oil and lift it out of the concrete.

After an hour, the paste will dry and you can sweep it up with a broom. Use a nylon brush to scrape up any leftover paste. Do not use a wired brush since this metal bristles may create rust on your concrete. If the stain is still present, apply a second coat of the paste for concrete repair.

From enhancing your home's curb appeal and value to cleaning for your own benefit, removing oil stains from your driveway, walkway, and garage floor is important for your house. Using this guide, you can effectively remove the oily situation.