Oil is just as important of a resource in the modern world as water, minerals, and food are. You find oil to be useful in almost every field around the world. Oil is useful in cooking, machinery, preserving, generating electricity, running automotive, medicinal aid, and many such varied fields. We cannot imagine a world without the presence of oil in our lives. But as much as it is useful, oil has its own separate set of disadvantages. One of them is the stickiness of oil. Now, it might be probably one of the most important reasons to use oil, but it can be really annoying at times, like when it is accidentally spilled on the floor, leaving you wondering how to remove oil stains from concrete floor and other such surfaces.
There are many scenarios that make the presence of oil on specific surfaces unnecessary. It may be a hindrance in the natural beauty of the surface or may sometimes pose a hazard to human health. If the oil leaves a stain on something, it is very hard to remove and can be very unpleasant to look at too. So, needless to say, we should act as promptly as possible before the oil leaves behind a stain. But what to do if it already has? Well, you can begin by not panicking. And you need to begin working as soon as possible because delaying will set the stain in. After you have prepared yourself for it, you need a few ways to start cleaning up that ugly stain.
How To Remove Oil Stains From Concrete
Here is a list of ways and products, which you can use to remove oil stains from concrete and other surfaces.
1. Baby Powder or Talcum
Oils are liquids, and they will just keep spreading until contained by something. Once they have stopped that, oils start to dry up and can be a bigger mess if left unattended for long. Acting as quickly as possible for you is the best option. And to help you in removing oil stains from concrete, baby powder can prove to be of worth. It works like an absorbent, helping you to soak the liquid without you having to touch it. In this respect, talcum powder and cornstarch show similar qualities. Begin by blotting away excess oil using an absorbing cloth, paper towels, or sponge. On rest of the oil, sprinkle some baby powder and let it set into the stain. Remember, put in more than you think will be enough. When the fine powder has soaked up the oil, brush the powder away. Check if the stain has gone completely, and if not, then repeat the process as many times as it takes for it to go away. Wash the area with a simple detergent after this and the floor is back to its former glory (1).
2. Kitty Litter
Cat owners know the usefulness of kitty litter. In fact, some of them have deemed it as important as cat food. For people who have less or no idea about what it is, cat litter is an absorbent mixture of clay minerals that are capable of absorbing amounts of water equal to their weight. For example, a kilo of litter can absorb about a kilo of water easily. Also, kitty litter is a better absorbent as compared to wallpaper paste and commercial absorbents, as it can absorb more than these both (2, 3). Kitty litter can be very useful in your garage. If you have spilled some oil accidentally, or probably your car has got a leak somewhere, and you are thinking how to remove oil stains from your garage floor, use copious amounts of kitty litter, and cover the stain completely. Depending on the size of the spill, you have to let it sit on the stain. For smaller stains, just let it on for 10 to 15 minutes. For bigger spills, leave it on for a few hours or probably overnight. Step onto the litter and break it into the stain. Collect the scrunched up litter and throw it. Follow this with washing using a concentrated detergent and hard bristled brush. Be a little firm on the stain and lighter around the spill. Rinse away the detergent and repeat the cleaning part. If the stain has been around for a long time before you decided to take action, it will take about a year to fade away. Also, remember that you need kitty litter for just cleaning up, so do not buy the expensive one that clumps easily. Rather, buy the cheaper, which is efficient in absorbing.
The kitchen counter is very susceptible to grease stains. And if you have a granite counter, then things become a little more difficult. Granite looks beautiful and elegant, but it is very hard to get a grease or oil stain out of the slab. Also, some people also use granite in flooring, which is again a hazard if spilling oil over it. So how to remove oil stains from granite? Trisodium Phosphate or TSP is an inorganic compound, which is widely used as a cleaning agent, lubricant, food additive, stain remover, and most importantly, degreaser. It is available in a powdered form under different names. Though, you should exercise some caution with TSP as it is very corrosive on the skin (4). Pour about 28 grams of TSP powder with a cup of warm water into a bucket and mix. Pour some absorbent material to make a viscous paste. At this point, you should be wearing protective gear for your skin and eyes. Spread a thick layer (3/8 inch) of the paste over the stain and let it soak the stain, drying further for about the next 24 hours. After the time passes, scrape off the dried paste. Using a synthetic brush and water, scrub the spot, and then rinse with a garden hose. You can check the potency of this method by comparing the area with the surrounding surface. If the stain still persists, repeat the process.
4. Paint Thinner And Sawdust
Paint thinners are merely solvents that are used to thin oil-based paints so that it is easy to clear them after their use. What better alternative use for them can there be than to be used to clean oil stains? Sawdust is actually used as an absorbent to soak in the oil and make it easy to clean up the mess (5). It will be wondrous and amazing to mix them up for added advantages of both these, with zero negative effect of either affecting their use. Simply mix the sawdust with the paint thinner until it is damp. Spread the soaked sawdust over the stain in amounts that you wish. Let the mix soak into the oil stain for about 20 minutes, so that it thins the oil. Sweep off the sawdust after this, and check the results. If the stain has not disappeared as expected, then redo the process.
Detergents come in various kinds and are marketed differently, based on their purpose. But most of them have the same mechanism of fighting stains over different surfaces. In simple words, on a molecular level, one end of the detergent molecules that likes the grease, sticks to it. And then the other end of the detergent, which has an affinity for water, sticks to the water molecule during washing and rinsing. This water molecule then takes away the grease molecule, leaving behind the area clean. Hence, detergents are the best bet against oil and grease stains. Heavy duty liquid detergents can be used as a convenient way to remove oil stains. Work the detergent into the stain or simply spray it, fused with a pretreatment product, directly onto the spot. Wash using regular detergent and rinse, followed by inspection. If the stain persists, then repeat the process (6, 7).
You can use powdered detergent for the same effect too. Pour the detergent onto the oil stain and cover it. Pour some hot water onto the detergent, simultaneously scrubbing the stain with a steel or stiff-bristled brush. Rub the area for about 2 minutes and then rinse the area with warm water or with the help of a garden hose.
6. Coca Cola
The most famous aerated drink of the world, Coke, has been around for more than a century now. Even through all these years, they have somehow managed to keep their recipe a secret. But secret or not, coke is not only famous for its taste. People keep finding alternate uses of this drink. It has been used for removing rust and blood stains, cleaning toilets, and tiles, amidst many other uses. But Coke has another fascinating feature. It can be really useful in cleaning oil stains from various places. It can be used to clean oil stains from clothes and from concrete surfaces too. You can use it to get rid of a grease stain on your garage floor (8). How to remove oil stain from concrete and garage floor using coke? Pour a couple of cans or about 600 milliliters of coke onto the stain. Let it sit on the stain for about a day, then wash off the coke using water from a bucket or a garden hose. This is the easiest way and the least expensive way of cleaning oil stains off your concrete floor.
Poultice is conventionally a medicinal paste used for relieving soreness and pain. But in the cleaning field, it is basically a mix of a cleaner or chemical solvent and an absorbent material such as sawdust, talc, etc. It is a paste of thick consistency, almost the same as a peanut butter. This essentially serves the purpose in two ways; the cleaner separates the stain, and the absorbent soaks up the substance causing the stain. There are many ways to use poultice for cleaning up oil stains from different surfaces. You can make a poultice with a solvent and finely-ground powder of one of these; hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide,) whiting (calcium carbonate,) fuller’s earth (saponite,) diatomaceous earth, or talc. Add a soap solution (simple liquid or strong soap) prepared in hot water to this powder to make a thick paste. Pre-soak the floor with clear water and spread the paste onto the stain with a spoon, to the thickness of about one eighth of an inch. Make sure that the paste spreads beyond the stain. After this putty has dried, brush or scrape it off, and rinse the area along with scrubbing with a stiff brush. After the floor dries up, if you notice that the stain has not been cleaned up to the level you will prefer, you can repeat the process without worrying about if all the chemicals will hurt your floor. Also, you do not necessarily have to throw away the used paste. Just mix it with some soap solution, and it is reusable (9). You can use this poultice to clean vegetable oil stains, like linseed and soybean, but only those that are small in size.
8. Microbial Degradation
Oil spills at sea are some of the most horrible possible accidents. They disturb the marine life significantly, sometimes, even killing a huge portion of it. And not just the animals under the sea, they have killed sea birds too. So it is on the authorities to take swift action in order to decrease this destruction of wildlife as quickly as they can. And one of such method, which is usually kept as a last resort to clean up oil spills at sea, is the use of microbes to break the oil molecules into smaller molecules, which are comparatively easy to clean (10, 11). Well, they are kept as a last resort because these can create a disturbance in the sea life. But, since the asphalt on our driveways is not in any way related to that, we can easily use these microbes to clean it. So how to remove oil stains from asphalt? Well, you need to buy these first. They are a little expensive, costing about $40 for a gallon. These single-celled microorganisms will break down the oil and clean up the spill. And the best part is that they don’t leave behind any byproduct or residue, which is toxic and has the capacity to corrode your driveway. These microbes are highly recommended for large stains.
9. Dish-washing Detergent
One thing, which was specifically made for cutting grease, is the dish-washing detergent. We cook a wide variety of food, which is so diverse that we can only imagine. But one thing that is pretty much common everywhere is cooking in oil and grease. And to get those out of our cookware, we use dish-washing detergent. So if it can work there, it might as well work on our floors too. And it does (12). Here is how to get rid of oil stains on concrete using dish-washing detergent. Begin by soaking up excess oil from the surface using paper towels or rags. Then, pour some dish-washing liquid and hot water over the remaining stain. Then you have to take a scrub brush to the spot to work your way in. If you wish, you can use the powder detergent on the stain because it is stronger than its liquid counterpart. After you have rinsed the surface, sprinkle some kitty litter over the stain so as to absorb any residual traces of oil. When you sweep away kitty litter the next day, and if you feel that it has not been cleaned properly, you can repeat the process.
10. Vinegar, Baking Soda And Vegetable Oil
There are times when things are not in our control. For example, when your car leaked motor oil on the driveway the entire night. There is nothing that you could have done to avoid that. What you can do now is act quickly and get rid of the stain. But, how to remove this oil stain from your driveway? Where to begin? Well, the best place to start is your kitchen. You have all the answers that you will probably need there. Pick up some cloth pieces, sponges, vinegar, baking soda, and vegetable oil and follow these steps.
- Pour the vinegar, preferably the full-strength quality, and let it sit for a few minutes. Using a simple dish cloth, wipe the surface clean.
- If the grease remains, put some baking soda on a wet piece of sponge and scrub the surface with it. Now rinse the surface clean with a wet cloth, thoroughly.
- And if the stain still persists, then you should remember that grease counteracts grease. On a paper towel, pour some vegetable oil and scrub the surface with it. And then repeat the previous two steps (13).
11. Oven Cleaner
Practically speaking, there is no such product in the market with the name tag “oven cleaner.” Usually, people make their own oven cleaners using different ingredients and processes. However, what matters in all this is that the stains inside an oven are mostly caused by grease that we use to cook the food inside it. That means, we can also clean grease from any surface if we have an oven cleaner. You are wondering how can we make an oven cleaner to clean oil stains off the concrete? We will tell you how to make it. You will need-
- Baking soda- 3 quarters of a cup
- Non-iodized salt- quarter cup
- Water- quarter cup
Mix these ingredients well, so you get a paste. Apply this paste onto the stain, except on the metals. Let it soak the stain overnight. You will notice that the paste has dried by the morning, so you will have to scrape it off. Using a wet cloth, or you can also employ a brush with water, wipe the stains clean. If there is a stubborn stain, use a steel wool and rub the stain gently with it (14).
12. Baking Soda
Baking soda is truly a miracle discovery. As the name suggests, the most common use of it is in the baking industry. It produces the effect of leavening in doughs and batters, causing them to become light and porous. But the real reason of calling baking soda miraculous is that it has a way broader spectrum of uses than just baking. It is used for deodorizing, maintaining pH, extinguishing fires, and most importantly, cleaning. Baking soda can be really useful for getting out grease stains from various surfaces. How can one use baking soda to remove old oil stains from asphalt driveway? Baking soda can be used in two different ways to get rid of the oil stains. The first one is to take advantage of the powdered state of the baking soda. You can use it as an absorbent on the stain. Just pour some and wait for it to absorb all the oil, followed by washing. Or you can use it to clean oil spills. Sprinkle some soda on the spot and scrub the area with a wet brush. Follow this by rinsing thoroughly using a bucket or preferably a garden hose (15, 16).
Some Detergents That Have Worked Well
13. Pour N Restore
Commercial stain removers are the best bet to remove spots of various different kinds because they are made for that very purpose. One such product is the Pour N Restore oil stain remover, which is the best solution for stubborn oil stains. It can be really useful in removing oil stains from driveways and the garage floor. Make sure that the floor is dry, and pour the stain remover on the oil spot. Now using a trowel, spread the solution over the spot such that it extends out of the perimeter of the stain by about an inch. Leave it to dry and become a powder, which will take about 8 hours, so its best to do it overnight. Sweep up, collect, and dispose of the powder once it has dried up. Now, allow the moisture to evaporate on its own, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If the stain remains, repeat the process. This process is best to remove smaller oil stains from the driveway.
14. Griot’s Oil And Grease Cleaner
Speaking of commercial stain removers, it is a common concern for many people that many chemical products do more harm than good. Yes, they do their work, but most of them corrode the surface, are too harsh on clothes, can be harmful to the vegetation, or pose a threat to the user. So we need a milder replacement for them. Well, Griot’s oil and grease cleaner is exactly what people need, as it cleans easily, can be used on any surface, and is very mild. How to remove oil stains from driveway without harming your beloved grass? Just spray the cleaner onto the stain, and wait for five minutes. If you feel like the stain is a little heavier in terms of buildup, take a nylon brush to the grease before you rinse it. Another advantage of using this cleaner is that it can easily be disposed down the drain.
Also Read: How to Remove Nail Polish Stains
Things To Keep In Mind
If you have figured out how to remove new or old oil stains from the driveway, garage floor, asphalt, concrete surfaces, etc., then there is a set of general rules and precautions that you should observe for getting the best results. Also, whichever way you choose to clean the oil spills, it is a must that you ensure your own safety, including that of the surface itself. It should not harm the vegetation either. What are these things to keep in mind? Read on.
- Begin working as soon as possible. If you find a stain on your way, do not delay in getting rid of it. A couple of hours are enough to make the stain set in. And a whole day can really prove to be a big deal. So, time is of the essence.
- Make sure whatever you are utilizing must be useful for the purpose you intend it for. There is no sense in investing in something that is not even going to help you with your work. For example, kitty litter should be effectively absorptive and as cheap as possible.
- Removing the excess grease beforehand is going to save you a lot of effort and material. It is a really insightful idea to soak the excess oil off from the surface before you begin cleaning. Dab the spot using paper, napkins, or sponge.
- Make use of the dish-washing detergents. They were made for the simple purpose of attacking the grease accumulated over different surfaces. So do not hesitate in using dish-washing detergents for cleaning up oil spills. And do not use the ones that were made to be gentle on your hands. Use the ones that actually promise to cut the grease away.
- Protective gear should always be employed. This is for your own safety. Most of the remedies for oil stains are very mild, but not all of them. For example, TSP is very corrosive to the skin. And ammonia should never be mixed with other cleaners because the fumes can prove to be fatal for you. Besides, a little extra security never hurt anyone. Wear protective gear including gloves, overalls, and eye protection.
Oil and grease spills are some of the most stubborn stains that you can ever come across. And not to forget, the ugliest too. Therefore, you must act fast upon the spill with all the proper knowledge from the above article, along with all the caution mentioned in it. The more you will wait, the harder it will be to remove these stains as old stains take more time and stronger remedies than relatively newer ones. Also, remember to try more than one approach. It may not always be possible that repeating the same procedure will give you the results that you wish for. Some stains are a little too persistent to be removed so easily. So, do not hesitate in making use of more than just one approach to clean off the stain. By mixing and matching different remedies, you can achieve a spotless concrete floor, without any oil stains on it.