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We understand that oil stains on concrete are unappealing to the eye, but it is so much more than that! These stains also have a negative effect on the results of any coating you paint onto the surface, such as concrete sealer or epoxy paint. This means that it is essential to thoroughly clean the concrete, to ensure you remove oil from concrete before working on it. This may seem daunting, but (trust us) there are many ways you can remove grease from concrete. This article will not only show you how to get oil out of concrete but will also highlight the products that are best suited to getting the job done.
Table of Contents
- 1 Oil Stains and Concrete
- 2 Best Products for Removing Oil From Concrete
- 3 How to Get Oil Stains Out of Concrete
- 4 Hints and Hacks for Removing Oil Stains From Concrete
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Oil Stains and Concrete
Concrete is a composite material that is made using water, cement, and either sand or gravel. When it is dry, concrete is hard but still porous, although the level of porousness depends on the size of the sand and gravel particles. Essentially, the porosity of concrete allows for water and vapor to move through it. While this is all well and good, it does mean that other substances can have the tendency to permeate through and stain your concrete.
Due to its porosity, it can be difficult to remove grease from concrete, as the oil can seep right into it. What makes removing oil stains from concrete even more tricky is the fact that oil is a natural water repellent. We strongly suggest, therefore, that you apply a concrete sealer to your surfaces, to make it easier down the line to remove any grease and oil build-up and stains. Also read our article on how to remove concrete sealer.
You may have noticed that your driveway and garage are where the worst concrete stains usually occur. This is a direct result of fluids and oils that sometimes (often without us even noticing because it is so slow) leak from vehicles. If this is the case, the stain on the concrete (however unsightly) should be the last thing you worry about and we strongly recommend you jump on a call as soon as possible to your motor mechanic to get that issue fixed. For now, let us discuss the more common stains found on concrete.
Gasoline spills (often occurring when the lawnmower or weed wacker are refueled) are a common mishap in the garage or driveway. It is important to clean these spills up pretty quickly, as gasoline is not only flammable but can also be toxic to animal and plant life.
If you notice an oil stain underneath your car, it is almost always indicative of a larger mechanical problem. Another good thing to know is that the longer you leave the problem, the harder it is to remove the stain. During the course of this article, we identify several impressive degreasers that effectively remove grease from concrete.
Another common stain that is often found on the garage floor is transmission fluid. Transmission fluid shows up as a red stain on concrete floors that are light in color. As with motor oil, the longer the stain is left on the concrete, the harder the stain is to remove.
Best Products for Removing Oil From Concrete
Learning how to remove oil from concrete can be as easy as using the right products. Oil is not water-soluble, so that will rule out using water to wash it off. You will need something a little stronger. Degreasers are the best way to go about this, and there are a few brands that would love to claim their products are the best you will find, but we are here to talk about our favorite ones. Let us take a gander at some of our top-recommended degreasers that will make removing oil from concrete as easy as washing away loose sand.
Best Concrete Degreaser: GOOF OFF Degreaser
Goof Off concrete degreaser is a top-performing degreasing product and one that is perfect for removing sticky or viscous substances from a variety of surfaces. Goof Off concrete degreaser is a popular product, as it effectively removes grease and oil stains without any mopping or scrubbing. Using it is simple, so if you are wondering how to get oil out of concrete, prepare to be amazed! All you need to do is apply the product to the stained area, wait for it to dry, then simply sweep it all up. Does this sound like magic to you? Because it sure sounds like magic to us!
Best Biodegradable and Non-Toxic Degreaser: CHOMP Pull It Out Oil/Stain Remover for Concrete
If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly degreaser that is still up to the task of removing oils stains from concrete, then Chomp’s Pull It Out is probably the best product for you. This product is perfect for lawn lovers and green-fingered garden gnomes because it is non-toxic and safe for plants. Thankfully, this eco-warrior really does do all the work (much like the Goof Off concrete degreaser), so you will not have to scrub away for hours on end. Again, it is as simple as spraying the product onto the stain, waiting for the product to dry, and then sweeping it (and the stain) away.
Best Bulk Degreaser for Concrete: RUST-OLEUM Cleaner and Degreaser
If you’re looking to apply a concrete sealer to your driveway or garage, it may be best to opt for this bulk-buy option. Rust-Oleum Cleaner and Degreaser for Concrete is specifically designed to degrease concrete floors before painting or applying a sealant. We do not recommend skipping this step, as it will most likely result in your coating not properly sticking to the concrete. Not only does this product lift oil and grease stains, but it will also get to work on any marks made by tires and general dirt. Lawn-lovers, this product is perfect for you, too!
Another helpful hint: This is a multi-purpose cleaning product that (when diluted properly and according to the instructions) can be used as an everyday cleaning product.
How to Get Oil Stains Out of Concrete
A commercial grease-remover is not your only option when it comes to removing oil stains from concrete. In fact, if you are wondering how to remove oil stains from driveways, there are a few other methods that work almost as well (and in some cases, they work even better) than a degreaser. If you have a stubborn stain, we suggest working through some of the other methods listed in this article. Go on… Give it everything you’ve got! We believe in you! But we also believe in being responsible, so if you opt for using chemicals, we strongly advise wearing safety goggles and gloves.
Soak Up the Excess Oil
If the oil spill is recent (very recent) and it hasn’t had a chance to soak into the porous surface of the concrete, then it is time to act quickly. If you let the oil sit on the concrete, it will seep into it, causing an oil stain. The longer you leave it, the harder the stain will be to remove down the line.
If you act immediately upon noticing an oil stain, you can save both money and time by using everyday items you may already have in the house or tool shed to remove it.
You can use either sawdust or a cost-effective kitty litter to remove oil from concrete before it becomes a stain. Simply sprinkle it over the oil and allow it to sit for approximately 24 hours. Both sawdust and kitty litter are incredibly absorbent and will actually soak up the oil, thereby preventing it from leaving any permanent marks or stains. When either of these absorbent materials has done the work they need to do, simply shovel it up and dispose of it safely.
The absorbent material soaking method works even better if your concrete floor has been sealed, but if you do notice some marks are left behind, you may want to consider trying one of the other methods mentioned in the article.
Poultice for Oil Stains
If a simple sawdust solution did not get the job done, then mixing up a special poultice is likely your next step to removing the oil stain. You will still need sawdust, wheat flour, or kitty litter (to act as the drawing agent), which you will need to mix with either thinners or acetone. This compound is more effective because each ingredient in the compound actively works to remove the stain. The solvent works to break down the oil, and the absorbent material or drawing medium is what pulls the oil stain from the concrete surface.
Mix the ingredients chosen to create the poultice. Then you can spread the mixture over the stain (don’t be shy) and place a piece of plastic sheeting over it. Let the compound get to work and leave it for 24 hours to ensure the oil has been both broken down and soaked up. Using a shovel, remove the poultice and be sure to dispose of it safely. This method is ideal for smaller stains, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot on your larger stained areas.
With the poultice now responsibly disposed of, it’s time to give the surface a quick rinse with water and a mop. When the surface is dry, you’ll be able to see how effective this method has been on that pesky oil stain.
Commercial Concrete Degreaser
A commercial concrete degreaser is most likely the first thing you thought to use when wondering about how to get oil out of concrete. We are honestly not surprised because this method truly works. Yes, you will need to give the area a good scrub in order to start the degreasing process, but if you’re working with a quality product (Goof Off concrete degreaser really is our favorite), it is hard to go wrong.
With any commercial degreasing product, it is best to allow the product to sit for 30 minutes before breaking out the broom (or any brush with stiff bristles). Once you’ve finished scrubbing, you’ll also need to rinse off the area well with water, because degreasers are often a high alkaline composition. As with any product, the manual is your friend. Not all degreasers have the same directions for use.
Baking soda is yet another alternative solution if you’re thinking about how to remove oil stains from concrete. Liberally sprinkle the baking soda onto the grease or oil stain and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Once enough time has passed, pour a good amount of dish soap onto the baking soda and start scrubbing. Once your arms are burning and you are quite sure you have gotten enough exercise for the day, rinse off the solution with warm water. Repeat if required.
When mixed together, baking soda and detergent can be an incredibly efficient way to remove grease from concrete.
Removing Oil Stains From Concrete with WD-40
WD-40 is one of those over-achieving products that has about 2000 uses. Yes, you read that correctly. You could simply go into Target and there it will be, readily available. So it is a versatile and seriously convenient product. Speaking of versatility, it can be used to do a number of things, like…you guessed it – it can even be used to remove oil stains from clothing, because it contains ingredients that break down the oil, much like any degreasing product.
After soaking up as much of the oil as possible, generously spray the WD-40 directly onto the oil stain and let it work for at least 30 minutes. This is another product that may require some scrubbing, but the results will be worth it.
Hints and Hacks for Removing Oil Stains From Concrete
- The purpose of an oven cleaner (quite literally), is to remove baked-on grease from your oven or stove. So, it may go without saying that these products could be effective in removing grease and oil stains from concrete.
- Some products designed to remove oils stains from concrete contain living unicellular organisms. The organisms consume the grease and oil and do so until the oil (and therefore the stain) is removed. This method is perfect for those wanting to opt for an eco-friendly alternative to the chemical-based products available.
- Funnily enough, Coca-Cola has been known to be effective against a multitude of different stains around the house. Simply pour it onto the area you are working on, let it sit, and then rinse it all off. Repeat if required.
- Not all methods will work on your particular stain. We suggest trying a few of the methods listed in this article before giving up, you are bound to find success in at least one of the methods.
- The final step in the stain-removal product is probably the most important and one we cannot stress enough. After the stain has been removed, seal your garage floor or driveway properly with a concrete sealer or coating. This step is important because it will not only reduce the likelihood of future stains but also make any stain removal in the future a lot easier.
The question of how to remove oil stains from concrete is one that has a multitude of unique answers. We always say it is best to act quickly and remove as much oil as you can with absorbent material. Following this, apply your chosen degreaser, and do not forget to let it work on the stain for a while. Finally, scrub, rinse and repeat if required. Baking soda and WD-40 are effective alternatives to degreasers. If you’re using items from the home, a poultice made using sawdust or kitty litter and a solvent is your best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Prevent Oil Stains on Concrete?
The best way to protect your garage floor or driveway from grease and oil stains is to properly seal the concrete. It is so much easier to remove a stain from a sealed concrete surface than a raw concrete surface.
Can You Remove Grease from Concrete?
Oil is water repellent, or at least it opposes water and they will not combine. This makes cleaning oil off concrete impossible using water only. A degreaser makes the cleaning process so much more convenient because it lifts the oil right off. You can rinse the degreaser off with water when you are satisfied that the oil is gone.
Will WD-40 Remove Oil Stains from Concrete?
This versatile product can do so much, and yes – removing oils stains from concrete is one of those things. It can sometimes leave a residue, but this is easy enough to remove: simply rinse with soap and water after using the product.
Will Oil Stains on Concrete Last a Lifetime?
With any oil stain, the general rule is: the longer you leave it, the harder it is to remove. This is why we stress in this article to act quickly when it comes to whichever method you use.