How to Clean Oil Stains From Driveways

Written by josh baum
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Even the slightest automotive oil leak can lead to a grungy-looking build-up on your home driveway, particularly if you tend to park in the same spot every time. These well-weathered grease and oil stains are very hard to clean up, but they can be removed with some heavy scrubbing and a cleaning solution that contains trisodium phosphate. Liquid dishwasher detergent is a common and handy trisodium phosphate source. Read on to learn how it can make this job relatively easy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Liquid dishwasher detergent
  • Water
  • Large bucket
  • Stiff-bristled hand brush
  • Long-handled plastic spoon
  • Measuring cup

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  1. 1

    Pour about 1/2 cup of liquid dishwasher detergent into a clean, empty bucket. Add roughly 1 gallon of cold tap water. Stir the solution well using a plastic spoon with a long handle.

  2. 2

    Take the bucket and brush outside to the driveway. Make sure that the stained areas are clear of vehicles and debris.

  3. 3

    Dunk the brush into the soapy solution. Scrub the oil and grease stains well. Alternate the direction of your scrubbing every so often to loosen the set-in oil. The trisodium phosphate in the dishwasher detergent will help to loosen and absorb the stains faster than many other commercial cleaners.

  4. 4

    Continue scrubbing all of the stained areas until it appears that the stains have been completely cleaned. If an area is covered in soap suds after being scrubbed, just wipe away the suds with your hand to see underneath and evaluate the cleanliness.

  5. 5

    Pour out the remainder of the soapy solution either on the driveway, in a storm drain or down an indoor plumbing drain. Rinse the bucket with water to wash away the remaining soap, then fill the bucket with water. Slowly pour the clean water over the soap suds on the driveway to wash them away.

Tips and warnings

  • Trisodium phosphate can often be found in a more concentrated formula at hardware stores. It is a common ingredient in some commercial cleaners, but not all of them, so read the labels carefully if you plan to use other solutions for cleaning these stains.
  • You can also use this process to clean grease and oil stains from concrete garage floors.
  • Cleaning up driveway oil will likely stain your scrub brush permanently. Use a cheap brush that you can dedicate exclusively for this cleaning job or for only the dirtiest projects.

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