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How to Get Oil Out of Concrete

How to Get Oil Out of Concrete

Ever had oil spills over Concrete? Concrete is a porous surface; it tends to soak in oil, making it hard to remove. Removing them is still la grueling process as oil is a natural water repellent.

The best way to get rid of oil stains is through heavy concrete degreasers, absorbent material paste, manufactured single-cell microorganism products, or strong detergent with a bit of elbow grease. Some oil stains can be removed with homemade remedies like baking soda, whereas some need acidic solutions.

Tools Required

  • Clean Rags
  • Nylon Brush or scrubber
  • Water Supply (Pressure Washer or Garden Hose)
  • Bucket
  • Broom
  • Method Specific Cleaning products
Tools Required

How to Get Oil Out of Concrete

Try the methods stated below to get general oil, cooking oil, motor oil, or transmission fluid stains out of concrete.

Preliminary Removal Option

Whether the oil spill is fresh or dried, this process should always be the first step. Follow the steps below:

  1. Try cleaning out the excess spill with a clean rag. We can also use cornmeal, cornstarch, baking soda powder, sawdust, or even clay cat litter to absorb the oil.
  2. After the oil has been absorbed, spread some dishwashing liquid on the stained area.
  3. Please use a degreasing dishwashing liquid or strong laundry detergent.
  4. Pour a little water to create a lather and start scrubbing the floor.
  5. It is best to use a nylon scrub brush or sponge. We also recommend using a pressure washer if possible. In the worst-case scenario, have a garden hose ready.

The mantra you should have been soak, scrub, and rinse. Only move on to the methods below if the above step hasn’t yielded satisfactory results.

Get a Single Cell Microorganism Product

These products are generally used for large-scale oil spills. We can get these products from our local hardware store. The most famous brands in the market right now with this technology are Terminator HSD and ACT concrete cleaners, and Bio World Oil Spill.

The price ranges from $25 to $50, depending on the volume of the product. Follow the manufacturing instructions to apply the product.

  • Slightly dampen the area and pour the powder all over the stain. Apply a mist of water on the stop.
  • Keep the area damp for days to come as often as possible.
  • Add a misting of these microorganism powders every one to three days.
  • It generally takes around one to five applications to remove the stain completely.

Create Absorbent Materials (Poultice)

A Poultice generally has a mix of absorbent material and a chemical to draw up the oil from the Concrete. Any one of the combinations should work for removing oil stains from Concrete:

Trisodium Phosphate/Absorbing Agent Mix

Absorbent agent mix can be anything from a specific manufactured absorbent agent, talc powder, baking soda, or cat clay litter (please remember to grind the litter into a powder). We can buy packaged absorbent material from our local hardware store.

Mix an ounce of Trisodium Phosphate with a cup of water and absorbent agent till it forms a thick paste. Apply the paste on the oil stain for 20 to 30 minutes.

Alternative mix: Acetone/ Flour / Baby powder

Start with ½ cup of flour, pour a bit of acetone, and start mixing it till it becomes a toothpaste type paste

General Steps

  • Clean the surface from any dust and debris and rinse the Concrete. Use your nylon brush to remove any residuals left.
  • Prepare the poultice and spread it across the oil stain. Before distributing the paste, try pouring the bit of the chemical solvent on the floor. We should apply this paste ¼ to ½ inch thick on the stain.
  • Wrap the area with plastic and seal it with a tape
  • Please leave it in for a day or two.
  • Scrape the poultice from the stain using a scraper and rinse the whole area. We recommend pressure washing the area if possible.
  • Repeat the process if necessary.

Use a Concrete Degreaser

 There are plenty of concrete degreaser brands that we can get from our local hardware store. These degreasers help loosen the bond of oil from the Concrete, thus making it easier for us to clean. They are highly effective on porous Concrete. Some of the brands to look out for are Zep Concrete Degrease, CC Concrete Cleaners, and Oil Eaters. We will get a dilution chart while buying these products, which will teach us how much to use on the stains.

Oven/brake Cleaners or Automotive Degreasers

 Oven and engine or brake cleaners for vehicles are created to remove tough greases from vehicles and ovens. These cleaners will work wonderfully for oil spills on your Concrete.

  • Oven Cleaners : Just clean the space and apply these products to the stains. While using an oven cleaner, make sure to create a thick layer of it on the stain and let it sit for half an hour to an hour.
    After half an hour or so, start scrubbing the floor with strong detergent or dishwashing liquid. Rinse the area. Put a layer of oven cleaner on top again and repeat the process.
  • Engine or Brake cleaners : They are more aerosol-type cleaner, so spray it on the stain and start scrubbing. Please spread a thick layer of engine or brake cleaners.

Please note that Degreaser and cleaners will not give you instant results. It takes time and multiple applications of these products to remove stains completely so, please be patient.

Other Alternatives to Try Out

Please try the options above first before moving on to these alternatives.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda

We have been using baking soda to clean our ovens for a long time. Do the same for the stain. Apply the soda to the stain and let it sit for about half an hour. Scrape the soda off and start scrubbing with a bristled brush. Rinse and repeat. For an extra kick, try a bit of vinegar for the second round of scrubbing.

Cocoa Cola

Cocoa Cola

Clean the stained area, pour two glasses of coke on the stain, and let it sit. Wait for around 12-24 hours and start rinsing it off with a pressure washer or a normal garden hose. Repeat the process till the stain comes out.

 WD 40

wd 40 to clean oil stain on concrete
ajay_suresh / Flickr

 Most of us have this product with us in our garage. This solvent is multipurpose and will work well against oil stains. Spray a thick layer of WD 40 and let the layer sit for about 5 minutes. Start scrubbing with our bristled Brush, rinse the area, and let it dry. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. While scrubbing, use the dish soap and water mixture to make the scrub even more efficient.

How to Protect Concrete Surfaces in the Future?

The best mode of protection for concretes is sealing them against future intrusions. We must seal our concrete floors to provide a layer of protection to the surface from spills, stains, or environmental factors.

The hardest part is to choose Concrete Surface Sealers. Look at the overview below and select the one that best suits you.

Sealers Characteristics
Penetrative sealersIt gets into the pores of the concrete and provides a layer of protection.

Best for Exterior Concrete Surfaces like walkways & driveways

Protects against staining, erosion, and Ultraviolet rays

Most of them offer a natural look or a matte finish.

Best to battle against outdoor environmental factors

Lets moisture escape from the concrete
Acrylic sealersAvailable in both water-based and solvent versions

Easy to apply

The water-based variant does not release harmful chemicals.

It isn’t suited for temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit

Best against water and chloride intrusion

The sealer enhances color.

Some specific sealers are made UV resistant.

Works well against chemical, oil absorption, and moisture

Made for both indoors and outdoors

Best for colored, stamped, exposed aggregate concrete and stencil concrete

Dry off fast (within hours)

Wears off more quickly than poly or epoxy sealers as layers are thin
Polyurethane sealersThe most widely used sealer

Available in both water and solvent base

Thicker than acrylic sealers

Protects against erosion, chemicals, scuffs, staining

Available in slight sheen to a high gloss

Both interior and outdoor options are available

Abrasions resistant

Best for garage floors. stamped, exposed aggregate

These sealers arent moisture repellent

It might have Volatile organic compounds which are harmful to the environment and our respiratory system. 
Polyaspartic sealersWe can apply these sealers at any temperature.

Dries quickly ( within hours)

Resistance to UV rays and staining

Low volatile organic compounds
Epoxy sealersMay yellow with excessive sunlight or high traffic as time passes by

Available in clear, pigmented, or glossy finishes

Excellent water repellent

Some products trap moisture in concrete