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If you’ve got a car in your driveway, you’ve probably got oil stains underneath it. Cars leak oil and other fluids; it’s a fact of life. From personal experience, vintage Ford Mustangs and old British cars leak more oil than just about anything. But regardless of what kind of vehicle you own, if it uses oil as a lubricant, it will leak. 

Small oil leaks are not a problem for cars but can be unsightly and a big hassle to clean. Fortunately, there’s a way to remove most, if not all, of the oil to improve your curb appeal. To help with that effort, read on to find five ways to remove oil stains in your driveway easily. 

What are oil stains? 

A blue pickup truck parked in a driveway
Driveway | Zachary Keimig via Unsplash

Oil stains are stains caused by motor oil leaking from your car’s engine. The oil is derived from crude oil and refined as a lubricant to protect your engine. Over time the oil seeps out of the engine and accumulates on the ground. 

Use dish soap or laundry detergent to remove the oil stain

A good laundry detergent or dishwashing soap with grease and stain removers effectively removes oil stains, reports American Family Insurance. Here’s how to do it:  

  1. Pour the soap or detergent directly on the oil stain, ensuring you cover it thoroughly. 
  2. Next, allow the soap or detergent to soak into the oil stain. 
  3. After it’s had time to soak, scrub the area using a wire brush or one with strong bristles. 
  4. Once the stain is good and scrubbed, let it sit for about an hour. 
  5. After an hour, rinse the stain with water.
  6. Repeat each step as necessary. 

WD-40 can remove oil stains too

In addition to being a good lubricant, WD-40 is also good at removing oil stains. In fact, according to American Family Insurance, using WD-40 to remove oil stains in your driveway is pretty simple. To do so, try the following: 

  1. Spray WD-40 over the entire stain. 
  2. Scrub the stain with a thick-bristled brush or wire brush.
  3. Use a pressure washer or rinse the area with water. 
  4. Use cat litter or baking soda to soak up any remaining oil. 

Baking soda can absorb and lift oil stains

Baking soda absorbs more than odors. It also does a good job absorbing and lifting moisture, reports Allstate. To use baking soda to remove oil stains from your driveway, give the following instructions a try:

  1. Cover the area with a thick layer of baking soda. 
  2. Let the baking soda soak in for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. Scrub the area with a wire brush. 
  4. Rinse and repeat these steps as necessary.  

Cat litter? Say what?

Cat litter on the store shelves, cat litter is useful for removing oil stains in a driveway
Cat litter | Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images

Yes, we said it. Kitty litter is super absorbent and great at soaking up fresh oil. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Better Homes & Gardens is familiar with this trick too. 

Before giving it a try yourself, remove any excess oil and then do the following:  

  1. Completely cover the stain with a generous amount of kitty litter. 
  2. Let the kitty litter sit overnight. 
  3. Sweep up the kitty litter. 
  4. If the stain still isn’t gone, apply baking soda or detergent and then scrub, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

Concrete cleaners can get the job done too

When all else fails, there are a variety of commercial cleaners that are specifically formulated to remove oil stains. Most of these products are available at a hardware store or stores like Target and Walmart. Follow the directions on the bottle for the best results. Like when using other products, a good pressure washing will help remove difficult stains. 

Can old oil stains be removed? 

In most cases, oil stains can be removed or at least significantly reduced. Newer stains that still have some moisture present are typically easier to remove than old, dried stains. This is because if moisture is present, it can be lifted out of the concrete in your driveway. 

If you have access to a pressure washer, use it to help remove stains. A good pressure washer makes short work of stains and other grime covering your driveway’s surface. 

If nothing else works, and you’re really determined to get the stain out, call a professional cleaning company and have them take care of it. 


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