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Clean Oil Stains From Concrete Driveway and Garage

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Dear Pat: We have a concrete driveway and garage floor. My husband likes to work on cars, and like most other things, he is not neat. How can I remove oil stains from the concrete and prevent future ones? — Agnes H.

Dear Agnes: Men and their cars can make quite a mess, not only in the garage or driveway, but tracking the oil and grease indoors on their shoes. You should consider yourself somewhat lucky because motor oil is generally not nearly as dirty as other oil and grease. Actually, new motor oil is almost transparent.

There are different cleaning methods depending upon whether the oil stain is old and set or fresh and still in somewhat of a puddle. Also, the smooth surface on most concrete garage floors will be easier to clean than the rougher driveway.

For fresh spills of motor oil, try to blot up as much as possible with paper towels. If you cannot get your husband to stop working on the car long enough to do this, buy him a large bag of cat litter. This is not just symbolic, but cat litter is very effective at absorbing oil. When oil is spilled, he can just throw a handful of litter on it and keep working.

When he is done working and you get access to the spill, sweep up the cat litter or pick up and dispose of the paper towels. Don't try to rinse it with water at this point. This will only spread the oil over more of the driveway, and it will run off into the grass or storm sewer. Oil is not good for either, and there is enough pollution already in the world.

Squirt dishwashing liquid detergent on the spot, and add just enough water so you can spread it evenly over the stain.

Use a scrub brush and scrub the area until a sudsy foam is created. Don't use a metal wire brush because it can damage the surface of the concrete.

After the suds have saturated the spot for 10 minutes, use paper towels or more cat litter to absorb this mixture. Use a high-pressure hose or pressure washer to rinse away and dilute the residue. Dispose of the oil-soaked towel or litter properly (your trash removal company can advise you).

For your older stains, you will need neither the cat litter nor the paper towels. First, try the same scrubbing method with dishwashing liquid and water to remove as much as possible. Check at your local home center store for some cleaners, such as Cleaner 5106 (www.industrialcleaners.com), specifically formulated for concrete.

Solvents, such as kerosene and lacquer thinner, can be somewhat effective on stains on smooth concrete, but they are flammable and are not recommended, especially in enclosed areas. A mild solution of muriatic acid (one part acid to 10 parts water) also helps remove the stain. It may attack the concrete surface, so follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Once the concrete surface is cleaned, you should seal it to make future oil cleanups easier.

Concrete sealers, which contain silanes and siloxanes, are effective. These sealers dry clear and help block liquids from entering the tiny pores in the concrete surface. These sealers will still allow the concrete surface to breathe, so moisture does not get trapped.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about Pat Logan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
Thanks for sharing, guys! I do a lot of maintenance on my own so I deal with oil stains on a regular basis - just comes with the territory! I used your suggestions for about a year but these days kneeling and scrubbing in addition to everything else I do in the garage just hurts too much, so I had to look for alternatives. I've actually found industrial absorbent-type products like SpillFix work really well. I highly recommend that brand to anyone else who works in a garage on a regular basis - it's quite the time saver plus it picks up a lot of the stuff that cat litter leaves behind!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Benny Davids
Tue May 6, 2014 12:06 PM
I recently found a product that works great - Oil Vanish Oil Stain remover at Auto Zone. Simple to use and works fast.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mark Barnes
Wed Jun 4, 2014 1:26 PM
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