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First, let me mention it is important to check your vehicle for fluid leaks on an ongoing basis. Running your car when it is low on oil could damage the engine beyond repair and cost you thousands of dollars.
If you do find an oil leak under your car, in your garage or on your driveway, your first call should be to the mechanic.
After the car is safely in the service bay, you can work on removing those troublesome stains from the concrete in your garage or the asphalt in your driveway.
Here are some tips to remove oil stains from your driveway or garage floor and how to clean the surfaces.
1. Soak Up the Oil
If you need to remove an oil stain from the concrete floor in your garage, the simplest method is to soak it up with kitty litter.
Use the cheap non-clumping litter, it is very absorbent and easy to use.
How to Use Kitty Litter to Soak Up Oil
- Start by laying the litter down on top of the stain.
- The kitty litter will work best if the oil or stain is still fresh, but it can work on old stains as well.
- For really tough stains, you may need to work in the litter. Get an old 2×4 and mash the kitty litter into the surface.
- Allow the kitty litter plenty of time to work.
- You may need to apply it several times to soak up all the oil.
After the litter has absorbed the oil, use a broom and dustpan to gather it up. Follow all local regulations when disposing of the oil — you may need to take it to a garage or authorized waste facility to avoid environmental damage.
Video with the Kitty Litter Method
Stronger Commercial Products
You can also purchase commercial products to soak up oil stains and remove them from your garage, but kitty litter is often just as effective and far less costly. You can always move on to the commercial oil-drying product if the kitty litter fails to do the trick.
This is a heavy duty absorber shown on the right. It is made by Oil-Dri and available in 25lb bags (Amazon link).
This product is not expensive at all and 40 pounds should last you for a long time.
2. Remove the Stain
Detergent is a a good oil stain remover
You need to use a soap or detergent to lower the water’s surface tension, allowing it to carry the detergent’s molecules deep into the oil stain.
Driveways are tough, but you should start with the least abrasive detergent you have first and work your way up if it doesn’t clean up and get the stain out right away.
First Try to Get Rid of the Spot With Dish Soap
If the oil stain is on your asphalt or concrete driveway, start with a mild dishwashing soap like Dawn or Joy.
Squirt a good amount on the driveway, then apply a small amount of water. Allow it to soak in for a few minutes and scrub the stain away with a stiff scrub brush. You may need to repeat this process a few times.
Wash the area thoroughly with a hose or a pressure washer to remove the rest of the oil stain.
Next, Try Removing the Oil Stains With Detergent
If the dishwashing detergent does not do the trick, you can try a powdered laundry detergent.
Sprinkle the detergent over the stain to absorb it, then add a small amount of water to make a paste.
Scrub the area with a stiff brush and hose the driveway to remove it.
Try Baking Soda if the Stains Still Won’t Come Clean
You can also use baking soda to absorb an oil stain on your asphalt driveway. You may need to apply the baking soda several times to absorb all the oil.
Once the oil has been absorbed and removed, you can hose it off or add water and scrub it clean.
More Extreme Measures
I have no experience with using these products on old driveway oil stains, but some people swear by them.
- Easy-Off Oven Cleaner – If this can dissolve baked in cheese from 10 years ago, maybe there is something to it. Sample a bit on an out of the way spot first. You don’t want to trade one stain for another.
- Microbes – These contains micro-organisms that love to eat the compounds found in oil. From what I’ve gathered, products like Terminator-HSD (check price on Amazon) take multiple applications over weeks to lift stains. It may be an option when all others have failed.
Be sure to check your driveway and garage floor carefully each time you move your car.
Spotting stains quickly make them easier to remove, but keeping a close eye on your automotive fluids can also prevent a costly breakdown.
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