The most common driveway and garage floor stains are from petroleum based products like motor oil, gasoline, and transmission fluid. These come from cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc. Fortunately these aren’t as difficult to remove as you might think. You’re best off cleaning it up while the stain is still fresh but that’s not always possible. Maybe you recently pulled out your lawnmower after it sat all winter to find it had leaked or the same happened with your motorcycle.
Fluids such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and gasoline can leave a stain on paved driveways and garage floors. Because these liquids are all different, the cleaning techniques vary slightly from fluid to fluid and surface to surface.
Oil typically leaves dark stains on your driveway asphalt. Removing stains is an integral part of asphalt maintenance. Here are some steps to help remove stubborn oil stains.
- Lightly touch the fluid to determine if it is wet or dry (wear a rubber glove). If the spill is new, start by covering the stain with cat litter, cornstarch, baking soda, cornmeal, or another absorbent material. This should absorb the still damp moisture.
- Once dry or if the stain was already dry, wet the stain with water and scrub with a stiff brush and a paste made from baking soda and water. You can try a wire brush but first test to be sure it doesn’t damage your asphalt otherwise you will need to contact an asphalt contractor.
- Finish, by rinsing the asphalt with a hose and letting it air dry.
Concrete garage floors are more durable than asphalt driveways. To remove most dried petroleum products from concrete, wet/soak the stain with spray lubricant (penetrating oil) and then wash and rinse with soap and water. Another method, is putting engine degreaser on the stain and scrubbing it with a wire brush. Then cover with cat litter before sweeping it up. You’ll probably still need to wash with soap and water to finish the job.
Another technique known to work on light-colored concrete (especially for transmission fluid) is over cleaner.
- Spray the stain with oven cleaner and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub the spot and rinse with a hose at its highest pressure. A high-pressure washer will normally work well on concrete but might damage asphalt.
- If the stain is still there, repeat the process.
There are a few other tips you want to follow.
- Always wear protective gloves and goggles when working with chemicals.
- Absorbent materials like cat litter or baking soda should be swept into a closed container such as a coffee can with a lid. Properly dispose of these at a hazardous material recycling center such as a fire station.
- Baking soda is good at absorbing odors left by petroleum based stains.
- Another cleaning chemical you can try is trisodium phosphate from a hardware store. Follow the directions that come with it.
New and old unsightly stains probably aren’t permanent but might be more difficult to remove than with household products. If these cleaning tips don’t completely remove the stain, you may want to consider hiring a floor cleaning professional to do the job.
What home tips do you have to help others? Please add your comments.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.
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