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How to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete

Try These Tips

As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in Exterior DIY Projects
How to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete HRT

Do you feel like stains are complex mysteries?

Painfully obvious nuisances that draw our attention over and over again.

Well, that’s how I’ve felt for the last 7 years.

You see, we had a huge oil stain on our concrete garage floor. And it’s been driving me nutty since we moved into our house.

For some reason, out of laziness or fear (of what I have no idea), I’ve never tried to remove this blotchy mess.

But I’m always up for an adventure as well as a great cleaning experiment.

Are you ready to discover how I was able to remove oil from concrete? 

It’s crazy how many different kinds of cleaning solutions we have.

Yet not all of them are the “solution” to our stain problems. How do you figure out which one will work and which is a dud?

On this week’s new video, I conducted an experiment with 4 different methods to see which one could reduce the oil stain in our concrete to a distant memory.

 

 

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While two of the products work like champs (think Rocky in Rocky IV — take that Drago!!) it was a bummer to see the first dynamic duo fail miserably.

And, I don’t even own a cat. So I had to make a special trip to Pet Smart for the litter.

Kitty litter and WD-40 might work for your situation though, so you shouldn’t rule them out of your game plan for concrete stain removal.

Oh well, a few bucks down the drown. But I’m happy to help someone else avoid the same blunder.

 

What’s Next

The stain in today’s tutorial was in a garage. If you need help decluttering a garage check out this cool project.

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Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

46 Comments
  1. Matthew Pirog says:

    Jeff
    I just stumbled across your website recently. I am greatly appreciative of your sharing your knowledge with me. I am sure there are many others feeling the same.
    Again–thanks so much.
    Matt

    I did subscribe recently—- so was confused by exactly what you mean by “notify me of follow -up comments by e-mail” and “notify me of new posts by e-mail.”

    1. Hey Matt,

      Thanks so much, your encouragement keeps me going. I love DIY, it’s my passion and to share what I know and see others benefit is the ultimate experience.

      Any time you have a question, just ask. I’ll be here.

      The “notify me of follow-up comments by e-mail” is for if you want to be kept up to date on other’s comments in a certain post. For example, if you click that box and I reply, you’ll get an email about my reply.

      The “notify me of new posts by e-mail” is a bit different in that you’ll get emails about future posts. But you need not worry about this since you’re already on my newsletter list.

      Talk with you soon.

      Jeff

      1. Chris says:

        I work at tacobell and they want me to scrub the oil spots will this work on the parking lot.

  2. Lillace Christianson says:

    Hi, Jeff! I’ve successfully used the light color clay kitty litter on reasonably fresh oil stains on the driveway many times. The garage floor in our new (14 year old) house has some small stains similar to yours, so will try the tsp. Thanks for another great video and tips. It’s always helpful to know what works and equally important to know what doesn’t. Gratefully, Lillace

    1. Hi Lillace,

      I’ve seen the kitty litter work well for new stains, and will keep this in mind for when our car decides to deposit some oil – LOL. My parents use to own an auto parts store and we sold special oil cleanup products that look exactly like kitty litter. So it doesn’t surprise me that it works well for new spills.

      Let me know how the TSP works, I let it sit on the stain for a good 15-30 minutes then applied kitty litter to it. I did the TSP treatment twice with good results but the results will likely vary based on the stain.

      Make sure to take some before and after pics. I’d love to see them!!

      Jeff

      1. Lillace Christianson says:

        Will do–thanks a bunch!

  3. Chris says:

    What does TSP stand for? I’m sure if I do to Home Depot or Lowe’s they are going to ask me.

    1. Hi Chris, good question. It stands for Trisodium Phosphate but if you say TSP they’ll know exactly what you need. Go to the paint section and you’ll be good to go.

      Jeff

      1. Donna says:

        The dollar stores sell TSP also.

        1. Thanks Donna, I wouldn’t have thought to go there for TSP. Every dollar counts.

  4. Alan Bailey says:

    Hi,
    I hung a young roadkill deer in my shed to bleed it then skin it. Some of the blood has stained my wooden tannilised decking floor, similar to your oil stain.
    What would suggest to remove it, short of replacing the decking?

    1. Hey Alan,

      Hmmm, this is a good question. Is your wood stained or not stained? I’d say that if it doesn’t have any stain is just plain wood you should give the TSP a try but I’ve never encountered this issue. The other idea would be to not replace the decking but to simply turn the boards upside down. So you’d have to remove them but then turn them over. Hope this helps Alan.

      Jeff

      1. Alan Bailey says:

        Hi Jeff,

        The boards are pressure-injected (tannalised) with anti-slip grooves on the topside. I think I will have to live with it – or camouflage it by rubbing dirt over it.

        1. Well you could give TSP a test and see what happens. At least you got a deer 🙂

          Are you making any jerky?

        2. Irene says:

          How about trying one of the laundry stain removers that lists blood on the label. Maybe that would dissolve the blood.

          1. My gosh, I never thought of this Irene. Thanks for trying to help out Alan.

            I’d give that a shot Alan and just maybe you’ll get a bit lucky. Let us know how it works out.

    2. Genelle says:

      Peroxide always works well on any blood stains I get on my carpet. ( Boy does that sound weird. I should clarify, blood my cats hack up from eating something ) It doesn’t work as well on dried blood but you could give it a try. Otherwise, oxiclean paste maybe?

      1. LOL, don’t worry Genelle. I knew where you were going with that line of reasoning. I’ve unfortunately cleaned dried blood stains off a rental unit carpet after buying a home. It was not fun and peroxide would have come in handy. Oxiclean is quickly becoming a favorite cleaning agent of mine. Thanks for the tips.

      2. Alan Bailey says:

        In the UK we have Vanish oxyclean for use in washing machines – I will try that. Many thanks, Alan.

  5. Irene says:

    I have cleaned oil off our concrete in the driveway many times by wetting it down and then sprinkling goodly amount Tide powdered detergent on it and letting is soak awhile. Then I get my trusty broom and wet the detergent again and scrub with my broom. If you have something better to scrub with you could use that. If it doesn’t come out the first time I do it again. The oil usually cleans up for me the first time unless I have let it go too long.

    1. Awesome tips Irene, especially for newer stains. Goes to show how strong laundry detergent is these days.

      1. Pat Dollar says:

        Auto mechanic shops have been using a paste of tide powder detergent and water for years to clean the bays.

        1. Awesome Pat, if that works for them then we should all give it a shot, too.

  6. Very cool experimentation Jeff. I’m hesitant to try any of it for fear of spending the rest of my natural life scrubbing the horror show that is our garage floor. Although we’ve never parked a car in it, our predecessors must have run an illicit chop-shop, with countless dismembered vehicles leaking their vital fluids into the concrete. There’s 30 years of mystery spatter and drips staining the floor, although,… I’m fairly sure no one has dismembered roadkill in it Alan 🙂

    I’d thought about doing some sort of floor coating. Any experience with it? I wonder if oil based stains will leak through.

    1. Chop shop!! And they didn’t leave behind any noteworthy tools. Those SOBs.

      I don’t have any experience with an epoxy floor coating but that would be my first choice John. I wonder if you can get a sample and do a small 4 x 4 area to see what would happen.

      Garage floors take such a beating. Here in the northeast the salt from snow removal eats away at the top coat. So my floor would need some serious work before even attempting a coating, which stinks!!

  7. Kolleen says:

    There is an environmentally friendly version of TSP. I wonder if that would work. I have a friend with this problem so I will loan him my box of TSP and find out. Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. You could always try the environmentally safe version. I would have tried it if it was available. Let me know how it goes and I can add a P.S. to this post so that everyone knows the results – good or bad.

      Thanks Kolleen.

  8. Colleen H. says:

    The kitty litter is especially good if you have a car that you know will leak. Use it as a preventative under the car either a 1″ deep area directly where the leaks occur or in a drip pan. It’s a lot easier to keep the concrete/drip pan clean and dispose of the oil if the kitty litter absorbs most of it first. 🙂

    1. Great idea Colleen, I could have used this for my 1986 Toyota truck who we affectionately named Ralph. It’s better to sacrifice a little bit of kitty litter than have to spend a Saturday cleaning oil off your driveway 😉

  9. Janet says:

    Thank you so much Jeff! I love all of ur helpful tips but removing oil from concrete is a must after a spill today. Gonna try it. Will let u know how it goes. Janet

    1. You should be in good shape Janet if you use the kitty litter to absorb the oil or even old saw dust. Let me know if the TSP helps, too.

  10. Jeanne says:

    We have used kitty litter and it is very successful on new oil stains. We put it on the stain and let it sit overnight, then sweep up and it is gone.

    1. Thanks Jeanne for your input, it seems like kitty litter is a great option for new stains. Maybe a good idea to have some extra kitty litter in the garage just in case the car decides to have an accident!!!

  11. Inez Carver says:

    I KEEP A BAG OF CAT LITTER IN MY GARAGE ALWAYS. I USE IT ON FRESH OIL SPILLS IN THE GARAGE OR ON THE DRIVEWAY. IT REMOVES THE OIL ALWAYS (AGAIN WHEN IT IS FRESH.)

    1. LOL, I like that you added the “When it is fresh”!!! Thanks Inez.

  12. Bob Higgins says:

    Having been in the concrete industry for years..one method I have found that works incredibly well is is to combine dry cement with dry Tide Detergent.

    Mix them 50/50 and apply it over the oil stain…brushing it in helps break the surface tension and starts the action. It is important to NOT let this poultice get wet, nor apply it to damp concrete!)

    The cement acts as a drawing agent, and the Tide breaks down the absorbed oil…let this sit for several hours, and simply sweep off the mixture..if the powder changes color, remove and apply fresh mixture until it no longer changes color after 4-6 hours…no elbow grease, just patience is needed.

    P.S. repeated applications has even successfully removed oil stains that are over a decade old..and be patient with the stains, they continue to fade after the poultice/mixture has been removed…

    1. Bob, thank you so much for your fantastic advice and taking the time to explain how to do this method. I love having seasoned experts like yourself give tips that are priceless, and this is one of those instances for sure.

      It’s amazing how a little patience can do wonders. Frankly, this is something I need to work on with DIY. Sometimes I get so excited that it’s hard to wait and see the result.

      Jeff

  13. Penny says:

    Agree with person who talked of kitty litter (or floor dry from auto parts store) that it works just fine on fresh oil stains. If you leave your oil sit, like you said was the situation with your oil stain experiment, it is already set in pretty good, so takes a caustic product (stated another way – less safe to use) to remove it. Much prefer the safer to skin, eyes & lungs kitty litter/floor dry & doing it right away rather than waiting for it to set.

  14. Mark Barnes says:

    I recently found a product at Auto Zone that works great removing oil stains – Oil Vanish Oil Stain Remover. It is simple to use and works fast.

    1. Sweet Mark, thanks for sharing. Did you try it and get great results?

  15. Maurine C says:

    My friend/neighbor lady uses Borax (Twenty mule team kind, I believe) and it looks like she just dumps some on the stain and lets it sit for a while…days maybe.

  16. joyale says:

    I just wanted to know where do you get the liquid TSP from to clean up oil from the driveway?

  17. Deepal Shah says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I had a small fire incident at my place (in kitchen) which left carbon stains on kitchen furniture, walls & ceiling.
    Most of it is cleaned, but the stains on ceiling are not going out completely. I have scrubbed it with water & then with svinto. The stains have reduced but its so difficult to rub the entire ceiling. Do you have any other idea apart from painting the ceiling?
    Thanks,
    Deepal

  18. April says:

    Hey! So about a year ago I watched a YouTube video about using a stencil and tireshine foam to pull a prank on a friend. I watched several videos and all of them said that the design would fade in a few months. A year later and they ( I created multipe A&M logos on my Bama fans driveway and sidewalk!) haven’t faded in the least! I want to clean up my mistake and I watched the YouTube video you made about cleaning up oil stains. Will this method work on the shine stain? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Help! ????

  19. Paul says:

    I was just woundering. I got a new huge transmission fluid spill in my driveway. I’ve heard about kitty litter to clean the spill, but want to know what would happen if I use powder tide laundry soap? I know it works great in cleaning all the grease out of the tile floor at my restaurant. I don’t want to be mixing chemicals without checking first, and how well would it clean it up? Thanks a bunch.

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