Parking your car in the driveway means the chances are you have a driveway covered in all sorts of stains that are notoriously difficult to get rid of, such as transmission fluid, gearbox oil, engine oil, coolant, rust, brake fluid, and many other unspecified stains. I’ll be discussing some methods to remove oil stains on asphalt driveways in this post. There are some weird and wonderful techniques, and I’ve listed them from the most, to least successful. Some use common household products you already have in your home, and some are quite a bit more expensive. So here we go!
What is asphalt?
A typical asphalt mix comprises approximately 95% aggregates: stone, sand, and reclaimed products. The type of stone can vary depending on what kind of stone is locally available to producers. The other 5% of the mix is liquid asphalt glue. Asphalt glue is refined from heavy components of crude oil, which is a cold derivative in the industry. It is known as a binder since it binds the mix together. Asphalt binder only makes up 5% of the mix, but it is the glue that holds everything else together. It is designed to be a strong yet elastic adhesive. Polymers and other additives may change their properties to behave differently depending on roadway conditions. These ingredients are heated and mixed to be placed on the roadway, pavement, or driveway and then roller compacted. Asphalt is often used in pothole repair on roads and paving. Once cooled, the new asphalt road surface is ready to ride on in just minutes.
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How to remove oil stains on asphalt
Suppose you’ve had a considerable spillage rather than a slow leak and have lots of oil or brake fluid to clean up. In that case, it is better to soak up most of the spillage before you start cleaning to prevent spreading the excess oil over the surface of your asphalt driveway and creating more oil stains.
A great way to quickly remove oil is to cover the area with cat litter like this one. Kitty litter is absorbent and will soak up all the excess oil.
If your spillage covers only a tiny area, baking soda is just as good at removing oil before cleaning.
Time needed: 4 hours
I’ve listed these tips in the order in which they work the best.
- Spray lubricant
In my opinion, spray lubricant is the best oil stain remover for asphalt.
A spray lubricant like this WD- 40 will remove stains from asphalt quickly and easily.
✔️ This is an excellent method for maintenance and to remove tough stains on asphalt surfaces as it is quick and requires no pressure washing or scrubbing.
Just spray, then rinse with water from the garden hose.
❌ The only downside is that this method is probably better for minor stains as the spray lubricant typically comes in a small can.
- Driveway degreaser
This driveway degreaser comes up second on the list because it does such a great job:
✔️ It does an excellent job at removing the oil.
✔️ It doesn’t cost too much
✔️ You don’t have to scrub too much to remove the oil.
After applying the driveway degreaser, it should be left for approximately 20-minutes to let it marinate. Then gently scrub for a few minutes with the yard brush, rinse and allow to dry.
❌ It smells pretty chemically and has quite a pungent odor.
- Laundry detergent.
Well, here is a surprise for you all! Simple Laundry detergent came third on my list for a few reasons:
✔️ It works, and it works well
✔️ It is convenient, everybody has laundry detergent in the home, and you can just run inside, dump a little laundry detergent on your oil spill and clean it up
✔️ It smells fantastic rather than a strong chemical smell.
✔️ It is cheap
✔️ It is non-toxic
However, it is going to take a lot more work than the other methods:
Apply it over the stain, scrub well for quite a few minutes, then let it sit for about 30 minutes. Scrub again before you do a final rinse.
❌ It does take a lot of elbow grease, it’s pretty hard work, and it was a lot of scrubbing.
- Dawn or strong thick dishwashing liquid
Dishwashing liquid is another method that uses products already in your cleaning kit.
✔️ It is cheap
✔️ It is convenient and readily available in your home
✔️ It is non-toxic
✔️ It does a good job
First, sweep up all the debris on the drive, and then wet it down with water using the garden hose.
It’s probably a good idea to divide the driveway into approximately six sections depending on the size of your driveway, especially if it’s quite a hot day as you don’t want the solution to dry before it has had a chance to work its magic.
Cover the area with dishwashing liquid or Dawn.
With a large, stiff yard brush, work the solution into the asphalt using side-to-side sweeps, then top to bottom.
Allow the dawn solution to sit for about 15 minutes to do its thing. There’s no point waiting till it dries, or you will have to start all over again. After a while, you will see that the stain begins to turn brown; this means the oil is beginning to break down and loosen.
Tackle the stain with the power wash using methodical strokes until your first area is covered. Wait for that to dry for about 15 minutes, then check all the stains have gone.
It’s not perfect, however. It’s so much better than it was.
❌ The only downside to using Dawn. Is that it doesn’t get rid of rust stains.
So how long does it take? A four-car driveway takes about four hours, which wasn’t that bad. So that’s about an hour per car parking space.
It’s a microbial bacterium that eats the oil out of your driveway, which sounds insane.
✔️ No scrubbing involved
✔️ minimal effort required
You just spread it evenly on the concrete and then wait.
The trick is to get enough to cover the concrete nice lightly and evenly.
Spread it out and work it into the pores of the concrete.
Backrete takes about 48 hours to work this stuff, so that’s about all you have to do!
After 48 hours, rinse the area and allow it to dry.
❌ It cost more money than the less expensive methods above, but it didn’t do that good of a job in comparison.
- Oven cleaner spray
Apply a couple of coats of an oven cleaner like this one, wait 15- 20 minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.
❌ It made the stain better but didn’t remove it altogether like driveway degreaser and
spray lubricant did.
❌ Toxic to use around animals
❌ Needs a lot of scrubbing
Take care when jet washing that you clean and remove stains from any communal asphalt pavements to avoid damage from your dirty water and chemicals.
You can use Simple green full strength on asphalt driveways. Allow about 10 minutes to soak. Then use an approx. 1 1/2 cups of Simple green per gallon of water apply with a brush and scrub well allow a few more minutes of soak time, then rinse well with clean water.
A pressure washer will successfully remove oil from asphalt, but it is better to use it along with the other suggested methods above for better and quicker results.
It is better to use Coke to remove oil stains on asphalt that haven’t been left to sit for too long and are small in size, or you can use it after any of the other methods above.