Oil stains on concrete are unsightly and notoriously difficult to remove. If you have the misfortune of having oil stains on your concrete, what’s the best way to remove them?
You can remove oil stains from concrete using detergents, pressure washers, baking soda, cat litter, concrete cleaners, Coca-Cola, WD-40, and bleach. The sooner you use these methods (or a combination of these methods) on any oil spilled on your concrete, the better.
In this article, I’ll provide 12 helpful ways to remove oil stains from your concrete without having to call a professional. Let’s get started!
1. Absorb the Excess Oil With a Paper Towel
If you have a new oil spill on your concrete, you should mop up the excess oil as soon as possible and before it can stain it more severely.
The best way to do this is to use a paper towel, which has excellent absorbent properties.
You can use an absorbent cloth if you don’t have paper towels.
If the oil stain is very old, trying to eliminate the excess oil won’t help because the stain has likely become ingrained in the concrete.
When mopping the excess oil, be careful not to spread it to the surrounding concrete because you don’t want to smudge it and leave a much larger mark than before.
Wiping the oil off with a paper towel can help make it much easier to remove oil marks, but it’s not enough to remove the stain from your concrete floor completely.
After absorbing the excess oil, you’ll need to use one of the methods mentioned below.
2. Clean It with Detergent
Detergents (powdered or liquid) are excellent household products that can help remove oil stains from your concrete at a very low cost.
Detergents can help remove oil stains from concrete because their molecules form a layer above the oil.
This layer reduces the surface tension between oil and concrete, making it much easier for the oil to break away from the surface.
When the water-soluble compounds in the detergent are dissolved in water, they break off the oil from the surface, making removing them easier.
Examples of detergents you can use include:
- Dishwashing liquid
- Stain removers
- General purpose household cleaners
- Kitchen detergents
- Laundry detergents
Here are the steps to follow when using a detergent to remove oil stains from your concrete:
- Apply the detergent generously over the oil.
- Carefully add warm water on top of it to form a soapy paste but don’t add so much water that it begins flowing.
- Allow the paste to sit on the oil for fifteen minutes to weaken the oil bonds.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the oil stain.
- After scrubbing, rinse the area with warm water, and check if it has disappeared. If not, repeat the steps above.
3. Use a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are popular for removing dirt and stains from various surfaces- especially old dirt and stains that have settled and dried out.
They spray water at the dirt and stains at high pressure to blast them off any surface.
Even though pressure washers make removing oil stains from concrete much easier, you must be careful while using them.
Using a pressure washer incorrectly can seriously injure you or damage the concrete surface you’re trying to clean.
Below is what you’ll need when using a pressure washer to remove oil stains from concrete:
- Pressure washer
- Detergent or concrete cleaner
- Soft-bristled brush
- Large bucket of warm water
- Safety goggles
- Water hose
- Safety clothing (consisting of heavy-duty fabrics and durable shoes)
Here’s how to safely use a pressure washer to clean oil stains from concrete floors:
- Spraying the entire concrete surface with water from a regular hosepipe.
- Set your pressure water dial between 2000 – 3000 PSI (pounds per inch); the higher the figure, the stronger the pressure. Take care not to use too much pressure as this could damage the concrete.
- Use the pressure washer to spray the detergent (or concrete cleaner) onto the concrete.
- Ensure you cover the entire concrete surface and keep the washer’s nozzle at least 8 inches (177.8 mm) above the surface. If you bring it too close to the concrete, the high pressure could damage the concrete surface and leave marks.
- Let the detergent settle for fifteen minutes to loosen the stain.
- Put the pressure washer’s inlet hose into a large water bucket, and rinse the detergent off.
If you want a visual walk-through of how to use a pressure washer to remove oil stains from concrete, watch this helpful YouTube tutorial:
A drawback of this method is that pressure washers can be costly if you don’t already have one.
If you can’t afford one just to clean the oil stains from your concrete, consider borrowing one from family or friends or renting one for the day.
4. Apply a Concrete Cleaner or Degreaser
Degreasers are heavy-duty cleaning agents that contain powerful solvents like kerosene and xylene to remove water-insoluble substances like oil from various surfaces.
Solvents break down oil molecularly and reduce the surface tension between oil and the stained surface.
When this happens, it’s much easier to remove the oil.
Concrete cleaners are simply degreasers specifically formulated to remove grease or oil from concrete surfaces.
The solvents and alkaline compounds in concrete cleaners are highly effective at removing stubborn oil stains.
Concrete cleaners and degreasers make it incredibly easy for you to remove oil stains.
Here’s how to use them:
- Mix your degreaser in a bowl with water and vinegar. Vinegar is a natural degreaser, and it may enhance the results.
- Apply the mixture to the stained area, and ensure you cover the entire surface.
- Let the mix rest for about an hour.
- Scrub the area using a brush.
- Rinse the surface thoroughly using warm water.
5. Clean It with Baking Soda
Baking soda is one of the most popular household products for cleaning various stains, including oil stains.
The reason baking soda is so effective in cleaning oil stains is that it has remarkable absorbing properties.
If you cover oil stains with baking soda and give it some time, it will soak up the oil and make it incredibly easy for you to clean away the stain.
Here’s how to use baking soda to remove oil stains from concrete:
- Sprinkle some baking soda on the oil stain, ensuring it covers the entire stain surface.
- Leave it on the stain overnight.
- Scrub the stain using a brush and some warm water.
- Rinse the area thoroughly using water.
If you want to improve the effectiveness of this method, apply detergent or dish soap to the stain before putting baking soda on top of it.
These ingredients will work in harmony to remove oil stains.
6. Use Cat Litter or Sawdust
Cat litter is another excellent option for removing oil stains from concrete.
Like baking soda, it’s an excellent absorbent product, and placing it on top of the oil stain and letting it rest, will soak up the oil and help you remove it.
Remember, as with any other absorbent product, cat litter works best for fresh oil stains.
You can buy cat litter from grocery, pet, and DIY stores, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
Sawdust has a similar effect on oil stains to cat litter, and you may have some lying around if you’ve recently done woodwork.
If so, place it on the oil stain to absorb the excess, and then clean the remaining oil, as needed.
7. Bleach The Oil Stains
Bleach is another option to consider for removing an oil stain.
However, it isn’t a stand-alone solution to oil stains, and you’ll need to use it in combination with another method, such as using a detergent.
Additionally, avoid bleaching if your concrete surface runs the water off to nearby plants because bleach can kill plants.
If you decide to use this method, bleaching can help remove oil stains because it will leach the color from the stain and weaken it.
Here’s how to use bleach for an oil stain on concrete:
- Put on protective gloves and a facemask because bleach can produce toxic fumes.
- Dilute the bleach with warm water using a 1:1 ratio.
- Apply this mix to a small portion of the concrete surface, and check if it leaves a mark. If it does, don’t proceed. If it doesn’t, apply the mix to the concrete surface and scrub the area.
- Rinse the bleach with water.
8. Spray WD-40 on the Stain
WD-40 is a multi-purpose solvent spray that most people have in their garages.
This product is most commonly used as a lubricant and rust preventer, but you can also use it to remove oil from oil-stained concrete surfaces.
Here’s how you can use this product to remove oil stains from your concrete:
- Start by wearing protective gloves.
- Spray WD-40 liberally onto the stained area.
- Let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water.
9. Pour Coca-Cola on the Stain
This may sound odd, but many people have found Coca-Cola to be a highly effective way of cleaning oil stains off concrete surfaces.
This is because it contains citric acid, which weakens the oil bonds, making them easier to clean off with another method.
Here’s how you can use Coca-cola to clean oil stains:
- Pour a can of Coca-Cola onto the stained area.
- Let it sit for two hours.
- Thoroughly rinse the area with a hose or pressure washer, if you have one.
- Scrub the area using a brush.
- Give it a final rinse, and the stain should be gone.
10. Use Oven Cleaner
Oven cleaner is another excellent home remedy for oil stains on concrete.
It contains heavy-duty grease-removing ingredients to remove stubborn grease from ovens.
They also act as solvents for grease stains, making them much easier to remove if you’ve allowed the product to settle on the stain for at least half an hour.
Here’s how to use oven cleaner to remove oil stains from concrete:
- Wear safety goggles and a mask because oven cleaner can produce toxic fumes that can be harmful if you breathe in too much.
- Spray the oven cleaner onto the oil stain directly, and let it work its magic for at least half an hour.
- Wipe away the oven cleaner and check if the stain is gone. If not repeat the process.
11. Apply Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent cleaner and stain remover, and you can use it to remove an oil stain from concrete.
Neat hydrogen peroxide or a household cleaner with hydrogen peroxide as its main ingredient are both equally effective at eliminating stubborn grease and stains.
To enhance the stain-removing properties of your hydrogen peroxide, add a tablespoon of baking soda.
This will help lift and absorb the oil more effectively.
Below is how to remove an oil stain using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda:
- Apply a cup of hydrogen peroxide (or hydrogen peroxide cleaner) to the oil stain, and sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda over it.
- Leave the 2 cleaners on the stain for half an hour to loosen it.
- Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub at the stain, and then wipe the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda solution off with an absorbent cloth.
- Rinse with warm water, and repeat the process if the stain is still visible.
12. Use Borax and Hot Water
Borax is a popular and inexpensive cleaner that can be used to clean a wide range of household stains and dirt.
When combined with hot water, it forms a paste and functions as an emulsifier to break down the bonds in the oil stain.
To use borax, simply create a paste with hot water and apply it to the oil stain.
Scrub it to loosen the stain further, and then wipe it off with paper towels.
Oil stains on concrete surfaces can completely spoil the look of your house, so it’s important to know how to clean them off.
Some effective ways to do so include:
- Using a detergent
- Using a pressure washer
- Using concrete cleaners
- Using baking soda
- Using cat litter or sawdust
- Using bleach
- Using WD-40 spray
- Using Coca-cola
- Using oven cleaner
- Using hydrogen peroxide or borax
By the way, you can also use a combination of the aforementioned methods to improve your results.
The sooner you use these methods to remove the stain, the better.