Does your driveway or garage floor have unsightly oil stains? it is important to remove oil before staining, sealing or repairing concrete. if the oil is not removed, it will eventually seep to the surface and ruin your new decorative treatment. Learn how to avoid this problem by removing oil stains from your concrete.
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Some oil stains are just small spills or stains, while other concrete surfaces are more contaminated. the size of the oil stain, as well as its age, will determine how difficult it will be to remove. Cleaning oil from concrete may require some trial and error to find the best method for your situation.
Here’s how to treat a recent oil stain:
- remove excess oil: wipe the oil with a rag or use a kitty liter to absorb it.
- rub with a paste – use baking soda or washing powder and water to dissolve the oil stain. rinse with water.
- wash with soap: dish soap and a scrub brush are often effective on new oil stains. rinse the concrete clean.
These are the four best ways to remove old oil stains from concrete:
- wash off oil with strong detergent and scrub brush or sponge
- use concrete cleaner or degreaser to loosen and remove oil
- apply a poultice that will break down the oil and suck it out of the concrete
- let special single-celled microorganisms eat the oil
There are various chemical methods for removing oil or grease (both hydrocarbon-based materials) from concrete. Learn more about each of these approaches below.
remove the oil with a detergent
small spills or stains can sometimes be removed with nothing more than strong detergent, a scrub brush, and a sponge.
use a concrete cleaner or degreaser
A more aggressive method is to use a commercial concrete cleaner or degreaser, a concentrated alkaline soap that is rubbed into the concrete surface. the soap acts like ball bearings, loosening the oil to allow for easier removal. The downside is that typical degreasers don’t actually break down the oil, so they won’t work well on concrete that is heavily contaminated or has been contaminated for a long time. they are also more effective on porous concrete than on concrete with a hard or dense finish.
clean oil stains with poultice
Another common treatment for removing oil stains from concrete is a poultice. It is mainly used on small and difficult stains. A poultice is prepared by saturating an absorbent material (such as kitty litter, pool filter media, or sawdust) with a strong solvent (acetone, xylene, lacquer thinner, or mek) and then smearing the material. on the stain. cover the poultice with plastic and let the osmosis process take over. the solvent will break down the oil and the absorbent material will absorb it from the concrete. however, this process is time consuming and may not be cost effective or practical for removing large stains. See how a poultice can be used to remove oil from a concrete countertop.
use microorganisms to remove oil from concrete
The most recent advance in removing oil stains from concrete involves the use of special single-celled microorganisms that thrive on crude oil and its derivatives, eating them like candy. enzymes and oxygen digest the oil and convert it into carbon dioxide and more microorganisms. when the food source (oil) disappears, the microorganisms die, leaving the concrete clean and oil free. this is the same technology used to clean up beaches and waterways after major oil spills. two sources for these microbial cleaners are (terminator-hsd) and act concrete cleaner and degreaser, both available on amazon.
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prevent oil stains on concrete
Here are some ways to avoid stains from oil leaks:
- have your car checked to make sure it isn’t leaking oil
- seal your concrete with an oil resistant product (see concrete driveway sealers)
- get an oil mat to protect your garage floor
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