When you park in the garage, you will find that oil stains accumulate over time, particularly when you are driving an older vehicle. Oil, gasoline and the transmission fluid can also spill on driveways causing greasy areas that also accumulate dirt and discolors the spot over time.
Most responsible homeowners like to keep their garage and driveway tidy not only to keep things neat but also to avoid hazardous toxins from being brought into the house. Many homeowners also go out of their way to maintain the curb appeal of their home so a grease stained driveway is nothing but a headache.
Although cleaning grease is never fun as it can be extra challenging it is not impossible, but your best chance of successfully removing stains is to act fast and apply the right techniques.
So how do you go about it? First and foremost you must pinpoint the kind of stain you’re dealing with. There are plenty of fluids that can leave stains on driveways and garages and most are quite difficult to avoid.
Here are the most common fluids which leave pesky stains on your concrete:
- Gasoline: If you’re having a problem with gasoline stains it's probably not coming from your main vehicle but if it is you need your car or truck to get to a repair shop immediately. More often than not this kind of stain occurs when you refill your lawn mower or other gas-powered car, which is usually not filled in by a pump. Gasoline should be cleaned the soonest because it is particularly flammable and detrimental to the environment.
Gasoline stains are easily identifiable because of the odor and the color it leaves behind. The stain is often similar to oil stains but is lighter in color and if in direct sunlight may even give off a rainbow-effect color. The spill from gasoline is not only toxic to the environment, but can also be dangerous to humans or any living thing alike, so it is very wise to use caution when cleaning and removing these types of stains. Gasoline is highly flammable, so better check with a local fire department how to properly dispose of the gasoline container.
- Engine oil: It is common for engine oil to leak from any kind of vehicle and the spill should also be immediately cleaned up. While they can be removed quite easily from concrete, they can cause more damage if your shoes carried trails inside your house, onto your floors and carpets.
- Transmission Fluid: If you found this spill on your garage or driveway it is almost certainly from your vehicle and that vehicle needs to be taken into a repair shop immediately. The flow is normally red and drips from the center of your car or truck. The longer the fluid on the concrete is not removed, the harder it is going to take to wash out.
How to Remove Transmission Fluid Stains
Transmission fluid spills or leaks distinctly leaves behind a bright red stain on light-colored concrete areas. According to the Reader’s Digest and some other helpful websites, here are some recommended steps for removing the specific stain.:
- Wear protective goggles and gloves.
- Spray the stain with an oven cleaner and then let it sit for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
- Proceed to using a stiff or hard bristled brush to scrub the spot. Then, rinse the area with a hose and a stick broom.
- If some of the stain remains, repeat the process as needed.
You can also try to use a degreaser instead of oven cleaner. Whether you use some oven cleaner or another degreaser, you may have to repeat the process over and over again until the stain is completely removed.
If the transmission fluid stain is not bothering to disappear by using both processes mentioned already you might have to use some muriatic acid to be able to clean and remove the stain completely. Again don’t forget to wear some protective gears because this is a very strong chemical. Pour the muriatic acid over the transmission fluid stain and leave it for a day, then you can proceed cleaning the remaining stained area with water and a broom.
How to Remove Gasoline/Engine Oil stains quickly
There are many ways to get those kinds of stains out – and you need not purchase environmentally harmful, dangerous and expensive chemicals to accomplish a thorough clean up.
Some oil spills are minor, taking little spots but some have already deeply seeped into the concrete driveway. The scale and again the age of the oil stain determines how hard it is to clean. A good deal of trial and error can be done to determine what will work for you with the type of concrete and materials that you have but here are some tested ways to clean up that Pesky STAIN:
Good Housekeeping recommends following these steps in order to remove the oil from your garage or driveway:
- Don’t forget to put on some protective goggles and gloves.
- Act quickly and don’t wait for the spill to dry up. Cover the stain with some kitty litter. An important tip to this method is to use an inexpensive kitty litter because the more expensive it’s going to be the more perfume put on it so it will not be as effective in removing the grease. If you’re dealing with just a small stain you may leave the kitter litter for just about 15 minutes, but if you’re dealing with a larger stain and there’s too much moisture, leave it overnight. When you don't have kitty litter at hand, you can also use cornstarch, baking soda or cornmeal while the spill is still wet. This helps to absorb the oil before it gets into the concrete. The materials mentioned are great absorbents. They can do a great job lifting any moisture, even if it’s greasy or oily, from whatever solid surface they are applied.
- Sweep the absorbent materials after the spill has dried up. Wet with water any residual stain left on the concrete. Repeat the process as needed.
- If the stain has already set in, the removal process starts when the stain is sprinkled with water. Pour a strong laundry detergent or a grease cutting dish detergent over the residual stain. Leave it on for a while before scrubbing it away with a strong-bristled brush. Proceed to wash it away with water. Use a hose to wash away the annoying stains. Some oils can also be easily removed by just strong detergents. Repeat the process as needed.
There are also a wide variety of chemicals you can use to get those pesky stains removed, if you choose to do it the other way:
- Get the grease off with a WD-40. It is not only effective in fixing that annoying squeaky door hinge or in preventing your vehicle locks from freezing, but can also be a great moisture remover. WD-40 is a multi functional solvent listed to be used in 2,000 ways. You may apply it directly all over the stain and then wash it away, along with all the grease, with water. And although WD-40 is a chemical you don’t have to worry about it damaging the surface of the driveway in any way.
- If it comes to oil stains and other persistent stains, pre-washing the concrete surface with bleach prepares the ground for more pressure washing. Bleach may be distilled to the intensity required for a particular type of stain you are working on. However, in most situations, this would not be necessary. For lightly soiled asphalt, dirt may be washed using bleach combined with water. Add 1/8th cup of liquid dishwashing detergent to the solution before pouring it into a spray bottle. Spray the combined solution on the affected surface and leave it for a few minutes. You may then scrub with the surface with a brush made of nylon. Don't use a wire brush because it's going to leave metal pieces that will later rust and stain the surface. Protect any plants that may be in the vicinity as bleach could kill plants. It can even serve as a weed killer. Be careful not to get any bleach on the soles of your shoes, bringing toxins into your home.
Always keep in mind not to mix bleach with ammonia, as this combination results in toxic gas. Before mixing bleach with any other product it is a must to refer to product information for specific chemical information. When using bleach make sure to be in a very well ventilated area.
- Another chemical that can be used are commercial concrete cleaners or degreasers — it will loosen up and remove the oil. This is a more aggressive approach. They are concentrated alkaline soap that will be scrubbed into the driveway or the garage’s surface. The soap serves as ball bearings that loosens up the oil to allow easier removal of the stain. The disadvantage is that typical degreasers can not really break down the oil, so they will not work as well when used on concrete surfaces that are already heavily contaminated or have been contaminated for an already significant amount of time. They are, however, more effective on porous concrete as opposed to hard or densely finished concrete.
- Another way to do it is the application of poultice that breaks down the oil and sucks it out from the concrete. This method is used primarily on small but stubborn stains. Absorptive materials such as clay cat litter and sawdust are also used. Pool filter media is also an option. They are used with a strong solvent like acetone, MEK, xylene or lacquer thinner. The materials produced are then smeared over the stain and covered with plastic. Leave it to let the osmosis process take over and the solvent will break down the oil. It is up for the absorptive materials to suck out of oil or grease from the concrete. The downside of this process is it takes time and may be costly when having to cover large stains. So for bigger stains you have to look for a more cost-effective and practical method.
- Allow for special single-celled microorganisms to eat up the oil. The most recent discovery and advancement in removing oil stains from concrete involves the use of special single-celled microorganisms that could flourish on crude oil and its derivatives, swallowing them up like food. Enzymes and oxygen are able to digest the oil and convert it into carbon dioxide and more microorganisms. When the food source, which is oil for this instance, is gone the microorganisms then die leaving the concrete good as new — oil-free and clean. This is the very same technology that is now being used to clean beaches and waterways after devastating and large oil spills.
Other unconventional alternatives.
- Some reported getting rid of the stains very easily with some Coca cola drink. All you have to do is pour a few cans of Coke on the spot where the stain is… There is acid in Coke soda that loosens the stains so that you can easily wash the stain away.
- While there are commercial products available for cleaning up oil stain on cement, you can also make use of home remedies that include vinegar as a natural degreaser.
Do not pressure wash oil stains. When dealing with a difficult oil stain you might be tempted to spray the stain with a pressure washer as hard as you can to wash away the stain out of your driveway or garage. Unfortunately, doing this will set the stain even deeper into the concrete making it even more hard to clean and remove the stain. So better not pressure wash.
And lastly, if you do not want to deal with any of these stain removal projects you can always seek professional help since there are already a lot of cleaning service companies providing this type of work.