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I rented a home, and the garage floor is concrete. It looks like the previous owner had a small car that dripped more oil than it retained. It has been parked on multiple spots, so there are seriously large oil spill spots all over the concrete floor, and they have been there for many months (at least).

I am storing my bicycle and motorbikes in the garage. Oil is very bad for you when it gets on the tires. I do not want to have accidents because of this.

I think I have the the following options:

  1. Clean the floor: The stains are not fresh, so kitty litter will not work. What chemicals do I use?
  2. Paint the floor: Will the paint stick?
  3. Put down car mats: This seems like a decent option, except I will need to get multiple mats and cut them down so they do not slide around
  4. Put down interlocking garage mats: Most sensible option, except it is really expensive.

I would love to hear about your experiences and suggestions in this regard. What are good ways of handling my problem?

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Total suggestion, but a degreaser? Simple Green, carb cleaner, etc. Paint will probably stick but is still porous so it will slowly seep through. If you're "storing" more than taking out every day, a cheap tarp may suffice until you refinish it with an epoxy. – Jason Aug 20 '13 at 14:52
@Jason, will epoxy stick to the floor with all the huge spills? I can try a degreaser - any suggestions for a good one? – Raj More Aug 20 '13 at 15:03
Polyurethane Epoxy will stick to virtually anything, but the larger the spot (like an entire garage) the more important it is to have a nice even adhesion other with it can bubble, crack, and/or lift off. With a full garage application you typically clean if with degreaser, cleaning solution (basically soap), and then water a few times. There are plenty of "horror stories" of people trying to skip steps. For just the degreaser, I'm a big fan of Simple Green. I can find a jug of it at any big box hardware store in the US, I use the spray bottle around the house from kitchen to dog messes. – Jason Aug 20 '13 at 16:45

Clay Absorbent.

This stuff is available at most auto parts repair stores. Sometimes it is available at big box stores.

It is NOT the same as cat litter although it looks strikingly similar. The resemblance is so close that "kitty litter" is the 'street' name for this product.

However, clay absorbent is far superior in its ability to remove oil from concrete. For example, my father and I moved a broken 2.5 hp motor over a concrete walkway in a plastic tub. At some point the load became unstable and the engine tilted enough to force us to drop the tub. In doing so, we streaked the walkway with oil approximately 2" wide and 6" long.

Since I was away from home and he did not have any clay absorbent on hand, I promptly drove to purchase some and placed the product according to the manufacturers directions. After the second application was swept up, I made a third application and ground the product into the concrete with my shoe and left it to sit until the next rain washed it away (not recommended, but hey the walkway was pristine beforehand and my dad has a low carbon footprint).

To this day, there is a spot on the walkway that is cleaner than the rest. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the entire section now needs the ground-in-and-washed-off treatment to help minimize the white spot left behind where there was a dark black oil spot before.

Two applications should do for what you need. Skip the ground in trick unless you promise to recover the waste water ;)

Edit:// Just read where you said spots are old and kitty litter will not work.

Try the clay absorbent. It is about 100% more effective than cat litter on any day. Also, if it does not come up, leave it for a night or two.

Other than that, (using a test spot!!!) dampen the concrete with fresh oil (detergents good...) then place the oil dry over it and leave for at least a day. If all else fails, grind it in!

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This one is simple, perhaps surprisingly. Buy a gallon can of mineral spirits (paint thinner), NOT the water-based type, but real MINERAL SPIRITS. Taking whatever reasonable precautions are necessary to protect your eyes & hands (I personally feel comfortable working with bare hands), wet down a rag thoroughly with it and scrub the floor. The mineral spirits will thin the oil stain and lift most of it to the surface where any absorbent (kitty litter, sawdust, paper towels, rags) can pick it up, and the rest will tend to sink deeper into the concrete where it'll be nearly invisible.

Naphtha will also work, but will evaporate off more quickly (perhaps too quickly, leaving the job half-finished). Xylol will also evaporate off too quickly. Kerosene will do the same job, but will smell worse than the mineral spirits. DO NOT use gasoline or acetone.

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You may be able to get it pulled up with coarnstarch. then spray the oil stain with hot water, squirt with Dawn dishwashing liquid, and add more hot water to create suds. Next, scrub the oil stains with a nylon bristle brush.

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