Clean Up Oil Spills On Driveway – 3 Best Ways In 2021

Clean Up Oil Spills On Driveway – 3 Best Ways In 2021

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Oil Spill On Driveway photo

Tips & Tricks To Remove Oil Spilled On Your Driveway, Garage Floor, And Sidewalks

This article on how to clean up oil spills on driveway will cover most, if not all, situations. Driveways and parking lots can get dirty and stained over time. As a result, this can harm the appearance and safety of your property. In short, various vehicles park there, and some leak oil or other fluids. Eventually, small drips can accumulate and cause stains and slip hazards.

An unsightly driveway or parking lot can make a home or business look bad. In addition, burglars may target the location, assuming it is poorly kept and easier to gain entrance. Slip and fall accidents are another problem caused by spills. In brief, they are far too common and are a significant cause of injuries today. Subsequently, oil stains can harm your business and livelihood. Read other important reasons to keep your parking lot clean.

Oil leaks are a common source of driveway or parking lot staining. Additionally, gasoline, grease, and transmission fluid can cause similar issues. Not all of the “do it yourself” cleanup methods in this article are suitable for use on other automotive fluids. Indeed, most of them only apply to oil spill cleanups.

The solutions below will work on driveways, garages, sidewalks, and any other concrete or asphalt surfaces. One solution may work better for you than another. Therefore, we’ve included Pros, Cons, Cost, and Clean Time for each so you can determine which is best for your cleanup job before you begin. Please be sure to read the TIPS, NOTES, WARNINGS, and IMPORTANT disclaimers.

NOTE: Call a professional oil cleanup company to handle large spills, since they may spread.

WARNING!
The first three cleaning methods outlined below use potentially harmful chemicals. So, locate the phone number for poison control before beginning. Keep on hand in case you encounter a problem or have a reaction to any of the substances involved. Finally, make sure that pets are not in the area or any people who are sensitive to such fumes.


What Is A “Stain”?

First, it is important to define the word “stain” for confusion’s sake. Many people mistakenly use the word “stain” for a discoloration that is permanent. However, the definition of “stain” by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “a soiled or discolored spot.” We will refer to this definition whenever the word “stain” is used in this article and not as something permanent.

No matter what type of stain you are dealing with, you have a better chance of removing it completely if you act fast. Hence, the best results are achieved by beginning efforts to remove oil on any surface as soon as possible. In short, the longer it is allowed to sink in, the harder it is to remove. As a general rule, older oil stains require more time and effort to remove than new ones.


1

Kitty Litter To Soak Up Oil Spills

Kitty Litter To Clean Up Oil Spill On Driveway photo

Pros: Relatively cheap.

Cons:

  • Not ideal for large spills
  • Damaging to seal coats
  • Must sit for 1-day to work effectively
  • Requires scrubbing and physical effort
  • Aggressive use of wire brush can damage concrete and asphalt surface
  • Creates hazardous waste that requires proper disposal

Cost: $0 – $55 (depends on how many needed items you already have).

Clean Time: 25 – 26 hours (depending on the stain).

This option to clean up oil spills on your driveway is for minor spills on non-porous surfaces. DO NOT purchase kitty litter that has a clumping agent or contains perfumes. In fact, it is best to buy cheap, non-clumping, unscented litter. So, be sure to check labels. Additionally, here is an excellent review best non-clumping kitty litters.

TIP: Place a heavy object on top of the kitty litter and use it to grind the granules up into smaller pieces. As a result of this step, their absorbency will increase.

WARNING!
This method can damage sealers. So, DO NOT apply to seal coated driveways.

STEP 1

Buy or assemble the items you’ll need (check them off below as you go):

STEP 2

Put 2-3 cups of kitty litter into a glass bowl. Slowly add either acetone or lacquer thinner until it makes a thick paste.

STEP 3

Spread the paste so that it completely covers the stain, making sure that it forms a thick, even coat. The idea is that the chemical will work to dissolve the oil, while the kitty litter absorbs it.

STEP 4

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the entire area, and tape the edges to the ground. You’ll need the covering to stay in place for 24 hours to let it soak in and work on cleaning the oil.

STEP 5

The next day, remove the plastic covering. Sweep up all the materials, being careful not to leave any behind.

NOTE: The oil-soaked kitty litter is an environmental hazard and is also flammable. There is a danger of combustion if allowed to sit in an enclosed container for any length of time.

FINAL STEP

Rinse the area with a little water while scrubbing vigorously with a stiff wire brush. Mop up the water with a rag. Do not use a powerful hose to spray the area. This can spread harmful chemicals, or push any oil residue further into concrete. Properly dispose of dirty rags along with the kitty litter waste.

Important Icon graphic

Important: The resulting waste must be correctly disposed of. Contact your local public works department for information about proper waste collection.


2

Soap Or Detergent To Wash Away Oil Spills

Detergent To Cleanup Oil Spills On Concrete photo

Pros: Requires relatively cheap, everyday household items.

Cons:

  • Not ideal for larger spills
  • Area remains toxic to people, plants and animals
  • Risk of injury while handling hot water
  • Requires scrubbing and physical effort
  • Aggressive use of wire brush can damage concrete and asphalt surface
  • Oil is dispersed into smaller droplets that remain in surrounding areas

Cost: $0 – $45 (depends on how many of the items you already have).

Clean Time: 35 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the stain).

This method to clean up oil spills on your driveway is for small to medium-sized stains or older stains. Once the oil has had time to sink into the pores of concrete or pavement, there is less hope of absorbing any excess. Instead, this technique attempts to break down the oil into smaller droplets. Once broken up, the droplets can hide deep within your concrete or be scattered to nearby areas. In summary, the oil residue will remain toxic and will still be there – although too small to see. In addition, here is a great resource on the best dish soap.

TIP: When using household soaps to clean oil spills, generic or store brands work just as well as more expensive brands.

WARNING!
We do not recommend this method for areas where children or pets play, since it doesn’t remove toxins. Moreover, it may be harmful to plants growing

STEP 1

Buy or assemble the items you’ll need (check them off below as you go):

STEP 2

Pour the soap or detergent on the oil spot, covering it entirely. You’ll need to let it soak in for 20-30 minutes.

STEP 3

While you’re waiting for the cleaner to work, fill up a large pot with water and heat it on your stove. CAREFULLY carry the hot water outside, and pour it onto the oil stained area.

STEP 4

Use a wire brush to scrub the hot water and soap vigorously. Once you’ve scrubbed the affected area for about 10 minutes, rinse the soap off with a hose. You’ll need to spray a lot of water to be sure that you dilute the soap and oil enough that it doesn’t leave new stains nearby.

FINAL STEP

Once the area has had time to dry, check to make sure that the oil spot is gone. You may need to repeat the process if the concrete is still stained.


3

Degreaser To Break Down Oil Spills

Degreaser For Cleaning Up Oil Spilled On Asphalt photo

Pros: Can be used on large stains, works relatively quickly.

Cons:

  • Can be fairly expensive
  • Requires protective gear due to harsh chemicals that can cause physical harm
  • Creates flammable hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of properly
  • Leaves behind powerful chemical odors for an extended period of time
  • Aggressive use of wire brush can damage concrete or asphalt surface

Cost: $16 – $65 (depends on how much of the needed items you already have)

Clean Time: 20 – 40 minutes (depending on the stain).

This clean up oil spills on driveway method applies more to large stains. While using degreasers, you must wear protective clothing, gloves, and eye protection because they contain harsh solvents that can damage your skin, eyes, and lungs. Accordingly, be sure to cover your arms and legs. Do not breathe in the fumes from these chemicals – wear a mask the entire time you are cleaning.

Also, be sure to read all instructions and warning labels on the degreaser that you’ve chosen to use because there are slight variations in the application process. Also, the use of degreasers will increase the amount of fumes and odors in the area for quite some time. In addition, here is a great article on the best degreasers for heavy duty cleaning.

TIP: Before using degreasers near plants, drench surrounding soil with water. This will offer some protection if the chemicals reach that area while you are cleaning.

NOTE: Only use degreaser when you are certain no one will be in the area for at least two hours afterward.

WARNING!
Degreasers contain harsh solvents that can damage your eyes, skin, and lungs. So, wear eye protection, gloves, protective clothing, and a face mask at all times.

STEP 1

Buy or assemble the items you’ll need (check them off below as you go):

STEP 2

Put on your protective gear and pour the degreaser of your choice over the grease or oil stain. The strong chemicals usually only need a few minutes to work – up to 10 minutes for older, more serious stains. Don’t let the liquid dry on the spot.

STEP 3

Scrub the oil spot with the steel brush while wearing protective eyewear, gloves, clothing and face mask. Once you’ve worked the degreaser into the concrete, let it sit for another 10 minutes.

FINAL STEP

Rinse the area with a bit of water, and then mop it up with a rag. Do not use a powerful hose to spray the area, as this can spread harmful solvents and oil residue to nearby areas. The rags used to absorb the degreaser and oil residue pose a fire risk and are hazardous to the environment. In addition, there is a danger of combustion if allowed to sit in an enclosed container. To dispose of the contaminated rags responsibly, contact your local public works department. They’ll provide information about proper waste collection.

Once the area has had time to dry, check to make sure that the oil spot is gone. You may need to repeat the process if the concrete is still stained.

Important Icon graphic

Important: The resulting waste must be disposed of correctly. Contact your local public works department for information about proper waste collection.


Conclusion

In conclusion, this article on how to clean up oil spills will help you keep your driveways, parking lots,  garages, and sidewalks clean. Keep in mind one solution may be better for you than the other, depending on your specific situation. So, be sure to take the time to review the pros and cons of each option before choosing how you will approach your oil cleanup.