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How To Remove Oil Stains From Concrete Driveways

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There's nothing worse than finding an oil stain on your concrete driveway.  It's important that you tackle the stain as soon as possible; oil readily soaks into rough concrete and if left to become really entrenched, it can be difficult to remove.  Fortunately, fresh oil stains are quite straightforward to get rid of.  Here's how.

What you'll need

  • nylon scrubbing brush
  • washing-up liquid
  • warm water
  • kitty litter
  • solvent product (acetone works well)
  • plastic sheet

It's not a good idea to use a pressure washer for this job.  This can have the effect of driving the oil deeper into the concrete.  Furthermore, oil should be be disposed of responsibly and any run-off will present a nasty pollutant for surrounding gardens.  Also, don't use a wire scrubbing brush.  The wire is too abrasive and will damage the concrete, leaving unsightly scarring.

How to do it

Large stains

  1. Apply a generous squirt of washing-up liquid onto the oil stain and add some water.  Make sure you wet the area around the stain too in order to prevent any oil released as you clean from creating a secondary stain.  
  2. Scrub the stain until you've created a rich lather, adding more water as necessary.  The soap works to emulsify the oil, lifting it clear of the concrete.  
  3. Blot up the dirty, soapy water/oil mixture using paper towels or kitty litter.  You'll need to take the dirty materials to your local tip for correct disposal.

Small spots

If you have a number of small oil spots on your driveway, this 'poulticing' method is very effective.

  1. Begin by placing a few handfuls of absorptive substance such as kitty litter, sawdust or swimming pool filter media into an old bucket.  
  2. Now add enough liquid solvent to saturate the material in the bucket.  
  3. Take the solvent mixture and spread it generously over the oil stain to form the 'poultice'.  Cover the poultice with plastic sheeting and leave it to work on the stain.   
  4. After a couple of hours, lift the plastic and check to see if the process is working.  The solvent works to break down the oil which is then lifted from the concrete and soaked up by the absorptive material.  Gather up the poultice and dispose of it appropriately via your local tip.

In conclusion

Fresh oil stains can be successfully removed using both the above methods.  However, if you have an old concrete driveway that is very badly stained, you'll need to discuss your options with a contractor who undertakes domestic works.  A concrete construction company like SRU Concrete Constructions may be able to clean your driveway using specialist, industrial chemical treatments.