How to remove oil stains from concrete

Oil stains on concrete can be an unsightly and persistent problem, whether they’re from a car leak in your driveway, a spill in your garage, or an accident in your backyard. These stubborn stains don’t just look unsightly – they can also degrade the concrete over time if left untreated. Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can use to remove oil stains from concrete and restore your surfaces to like-new condition.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for identifying, treating, and removing oil stains from concrete floors, driveways, patios, and more. We’ll cover both DIY solutions using common household products as well as professional-grade concrete cleaning techniques. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge and tools you need to tackle even the toughest oil stains and keep your concrete looking its best.

remove oil stains from concrete

Oil Stains on Concrete

Before we dive into the removal process, it’s important to understand what causes oil stains on concrete in the first place. Concrete is a porous material, meaning it has tiny holes and crevices that can absorb liquids like motor oil, cooking oil, grease, and other petroleum-based substances. When these liquids seep into the concrete, they leave behind unsightly dark stains that can be difficult to remove.

Oil stains on concrete come in a few common forms:

Type of StainDescription
Fresh oil spillsThese are new, wet stains that have just occurred and haven’t had time to fully soak into the concrete yet.
Older, dried-in stainsThese stains have been there for a while and have had time to penetrate deep into the concrete. They’re usually darker and more stubborn to remove.
Ground-in stainsOver time, dirt, grease, and other debris can get ground into the oil stain, making it even harder to clean.

No matter the type of oil stain you’re dealing with, the key to effective removal is to act quickly. The longer an oil stain is left untreated, the more time it has to soak into the concrete and set. Catching and treating oil spills early is the best way to prevent permanent staining.

Preparing the Concrete Surface

Before you can start the cleaning process, you’ll need to properly prepare the concrete surface. This involves removing any loose debris, dirt, or grease that could interfere with the cleaning products.

Start by sweeping or blowing away any loose dirt, leaves, or other debris from the stained area. You can also use a stiff-bristle brush to scrub the surface and dislodge any ground-in grime.

Next, degrease the concrete by using a degreasing cleaner or a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Scrub the area thoroughly, then rinse away any suds or residue. This will help ensure your cleaning products can penetrate down to the oil stain instead of just cleaning the surface.

For extra stubborn stains, you can also try using a concrete etching solution like the Ramuc Concrete Etching Solution to open up the pores of the concrete and allow for deeper penetration of the cleaners.

Once the area is clean and degreased, you’re ready to start the oil stain removal process.

DIY Methods for Removing Oil Stains

For fresh or mild oil stains, there are several DIY solutions you can try using common household products. These methods are budget-friendly and easy to do, making them a great option for homeowners.

Baking Soda and Water

One of the simplest DIY treatments is a baking soda and water paste. Simply mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to form a thick, spreadable paste. Spread this paste over the oil stain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. The baking soda will help draw the oil out of the concrete. Then, scrub the area with a stiff-bristle brush and rinse away the paste.

Kitty Litter

Believe it or not, kitty litter can also be an effective oil stain remover. The absorbent materials in kitty litter help soak up and lift oil from concrete. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of kitty litter over the stain and let it sit for several hours, or even overnight. Then, sweep up the litter and dispose of it. You may need to repeat this process a few times for stubborn stains.

Dish Soap and Hydrogen Peroxide

For a more potent DIY cleaner, mix together dish soap and hydrogen peroxide. The soap helps break down the oil while the hydrogen peroxide bleaches and whitens the concrete. Apply this mixture to the stain, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub and rinse. You may need to repeat this a few times for best results.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Another effective homemade cleaner combines vinegar and baking soda. First, pour undiluted white vinegar over the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, sprinkle baking soda over the vinegar and watch as the two ingredients fizz and react. Use a scrub brush to work the mixture into the concrete, then rinse away. The acidic vinegar and abrasive baking soda work together to lift the oil.

While these DIY methods can be effective for fresh or mild oil stains, they may not be powerful enough to remove deeper, set-in stains. For those tougher stains, you may need to try some professional-grade cleaning products and techniques.

Using Professional-Grade Concrete Cleaners

When DIY solutions just aren’t cutting it, it may be time to bring in the big guns – professional-grade concrete cleaners and degreasers. These specialized products are formulated to tackle even the most stubborn oil and grease stains.

Here are some top professional-grade options for removing oil stains from concrete:

Concrete Degreasers

These heavy-duty cleaners contain powerful solvents and surfactants that can penetrate deep into the concrete to lift out oil and grease. Look for products labelled as “concrete degreasers” or “concrete degreasers and cleaners”.

One top-rated option is the Citrus Solutions Concrete Degreaser. This plant-based formula uses the power of citrus to break down and remove tough oil and grease stains.

Another popular choice is the Zep Concrete and Masonry Degreaser, which uses a strong alkaline formula to cut through even the most stubborn grease and oil.

Concrete Stain Removers

Concrete stain removers are specifically designed to break down and lift oil, grease, rust, and other types of stubborn stains from porous concrete surfaces. They often contain acidic ingredients to help dissolve the stain.

The Granite Gold Concrete Cleaner and Degreaser is a professional-strength formula that can tackle even the toughest concrete stains. It uses a combination of acids and degreasers to penetrate deep and lift out stubborn stains.

Another option is the Siamons Concrete Stain Remover, which uses oxalic acid to help dissolve and remove oil, grease, and rust stains.

Concrete Etching Solutions

Etching solutions use mild acids to etch the surface of the concrete, opening up the pores so the oil can be more easily removed. These are often used in conjunction with degreasers or stain removers.

The Ramuc Concrete Etching Solution is a popular option that can help prepare the concrete for deeper cleaning. It contains phosphoric acid to etch the surface and improve the penetration of other cleaners.

When using professional-grade concrete cleaners, always follow the product instructions carefully. Many of these cleaners contain harsh chemicals, so it’s important to use proper safety precautions like gloves and eye protection. You may also need to rent or borrow a pressure washer to rinse away the cleaner and dissolve the stain after treatment.

It’s a good idea to test any concrete cleaner in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage or discolour the surface. With the right product and technique, even the toughest oil stains can be removed.

Preventing Future Oil Stains

Once you’ve successfully removed an oil stain from your concrete, the next step is to prevent future stains from occurring. Here are some tips:

  • Clean up oil spills immediately – Don’t let fresh oil soak into the concrete. Wipe up spills right away with an absorbent material like kitty litter or paper towels.
  • Apply a concrete sealer – Sealing the concrete with a clear, protective coating can help prevent oil and other liquids from penetrating the surface. Try a product like the Ghostshield Concrete Sealer for long-lasting protection.
  • Park cars on a mat – Using an oil-absorbing mat under your car’s tyres and the engine can catch drips and leaks before they hit the concrete. The Lubemate Oil Absorbent Mat is a popular option.
  • Maintain your vehicles – Regularly inspecting and servicing your vehicles can help prevent future oil leaks and spills.
  • Be proactive with cleaners – Periodically cleaning your concrete surfaces with a degreaser or concrete cleaner can help lift oil before it has a chance to set in. The Siamons Concrete Degreaser is a great option for routine maintenance.

By taking these preventative measures, you can keep your concrete surfaces looking their best and avoid the hassle of dealing with stubborn oil stains in the future.


Oil stains on concrete can be a real nuisance, but with the right cleaning methods and products, they don’t have to be a permanent problem. Whether you opt for DIY solutions or professional-grade cleaners, the key is to act quickly and use the appropriate techniques for the type of stain you’re dealing with.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove even the toughest oil stains and restore your concrete surfaces to their former glory. And with some simple preventative measures, you can help stop future oil spills and stains from ever occurring in the first place.

So don’t let those unsightly oil spots ruin the look of your driveway, garage floor, or patio. Tackle those stains head-on and enjoy beautifully clean, stain-free concrete that will last for years to come.

Sharing Is Caring:

As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.