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How To Remove Oil From Concrete

Updated on December 22, 2015

Oil From Car

The Oil Stain

So your best friend visited again in his old Jeep Cherokee and left a nice shiny gift. There, in your drive, is a lovely oil stain on your concrete pavers. Now, you notice there is quite a bit of dirt, grease, and grime all over the place. Oil naturally penetrates deep into concrete due to its porous composition. The time has come to clean the oil stains off your concrete. You will get overwhelmed by all the search results you find on google. Here we will go over the pros and cons of the most popular cleaners. Removing oil is actually a fun process that will make your forgotten masonry investment come back to life.

Before And After

Industrial Strength Cleaner

Using an industrial strength cleaner is the most effective and economical method to remove oil, dirt, grime or grease. The picture with the bricks here illustrates how effective this type of degreaser is at pulling off all the dirt molecules. When left on a stain for 15 minutes amazing results can be obtained. Now let's look at all the options and compare them.

1 Gallon Bottles

Best methods for purchase
Best methods for purchase

PaverCleen

The first cleaner is PaverCleen Concrete Degreaser. Paver Clean as the name sounds does clean pavers and all pavement. This cleaner, when diluted with warm water, will provide an economical high performance cleaner. Grease, oil and dirt are effectively removed from masonry and concrete surfaces. A variety of additional surfaces such as bugs, mold and other biological growths will be removed from steel, glass, and plastic. Make sure to test all surfaces in an inconspicuous place prior to full application.

Paver Clean Demo

ZEP

Zep Cleaner

Another degreaser is ZEP citrus cleaner. This cleaner does a great job but the citrus scent can be rather intense. On average this cleaner tends to be 87% more expensive.

Kitty Litter

Poultice Kitty Litter

There are different ways to deal with the oil stains.The first and most basic method of cleanup is known as a poultice. Poultice is created by saturating an absorptive material like kitty litter or sawdust with an intense solvent like acetone or MEK (methyl ethyl ketone). Osmosis will slowly remove the oil from the concrete.

If the oil stain is new, the kitty litter will soak up the excess oil and contain the mess. Once fully absorbed you can brush away the oil kitty litter. This technique is expensive and requires numerous applications. It is better for controlling the mess of a recent spill, not removing it. The stain will likely remain on your concrete after the kitty litter is brushed away and will require another cleaner.

Liquid Dish Soap

Liquid dish soap and water is a common household solution. Soap and water are lathered onto the stain. This method requires many treatments and intense scrubbing. Much of the oil stain will remain deep in the pores of the concrete for years to come.

Microbial Cleaners

Made up of single-celled microorganisms, this little cleaners love oil. They feed on oil as the enzymles and oxygen inside them break away the oil stain and convert it to carbon dioxide. This is a great method for cleaning up disaster zones such as in the Gulf of Mexico. Cleaning a driveway is too small of an application for microbial cleaners.

Intense Odor

Be careful some cleaners smell like paint thinner
Be careful some cleaners smell like paint thinner

Odor

Many cleaners have an intense odor. Make sure to test the product outside before using in a garage. The Zep and Pavercleen were powerful but could be used inside. The UGL cleaner was almost impossible to use inside. A mask was required. No matter what cleaner you use make sure to have protective gloves and goggles on.

5 to 1 Ratio

Mixing Instructions
Mixing Instructions

Mixing Ratio

Many of the cleaners can be diluted. The zep says it can be diluted up to a 16 to 1 ratio while the pavercleen states it can be diluted up to a 5 to 1 ratio. An added benefit is you can save on shipping by ordering a concentrate and dilute it with warm water on the clean up site.

PaverCleen: Concrete Degreaser

Experiment

The question of how to remove oil from concrete has many answers with numerous ways to clean off oil. Keep a product on hand and follow the instructions. Test it first for odor and then conclude how well it cleans off a sample area. Industrial strength cleaners are the most economical and satisfactory way to remove stains from pavement.

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