Anyone have tips for removing oil stains from a concrete unpaved driveway? The spill was from a leaking car, now fixed, and they are a few months old. There are so many products and spurious reviews at Amazon. I'm not sure whom to trust...

Does anyone have personal experience with products to clean these oil stains? Our driveway like most driveways has a slight slant to allow water to run-off to the street gutters.


I've always used cat litter. It's absorbent enough that it tends to pull the oil out of the concrete. Not sure how well it would work on a stain once it's set in for a while though, but it's cheap enough that you don't have much to lose by trying.


You are going to have a real hard time cleaning it. I had a similar situation, and the stains are still there after 15 years.

I haven't tried this solution myself. I am inventing it on the spot from my chemistry background. What you can try is a long therapy with a high power steamer (heats, liquefy and mechanically strips the oil, hopefully) and something adsorbing, with low polarity and high pores, like cat litter, but also normal sand. Don't use hydrocloric acid (muriatic) as you are only going to ruin the concrete and obtain nothing. Oil is not attacked by acids. You will just corrode the concrete and intoxicate everyone around. It's also useless to try to soapify it with sodium hydroxide: engine oil cannot be made into soap, it's not vegetal oil. Photodegradation is your best chance, so you could try to put a UV light for a year above it ? Hardly doable.

Don't try to dissolve it with other oil, alcohol or solvents. The only thing you will obtain is to expand the stain, pollute the environment, and have a stinky concrete.


This article (Cleaning tips: removing oil from concrete) recommends a paste of turpentine and lime that you can make to try cleaning it up:

Make a paste of two parts hydrated lime powder and one part turpentine. Spread the paste over the surface of the remaining oil stain covering a larger patch than the actual stain. Cover the stain with plastic sheeting to help prevent the turpentine from evaporating. Leave the poultice covering on the stain overnight. Scrape off the paste and follow with a good scrubbing of detergent and water. Reference: http://www.essortment.com/home/removeoilconcr_sbdw.htm

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    And follow your local laws for disposal. You probably should not put this concoction in the regular trash. – Paused until further notice. Nov 17 '10 at 0:16

I recently found a product at AutoZone. Oil Vanish stain remover is simple to use, and works fast.


Shaklee used to make something called Basic I (letter "i" - it was the "industrial" counterpart to their Basic H ("home")). It was a powerful surfactant. I used it once on a restaurant parking lot with some serious oil stains. Applied undiluted, it really reduced the staining. I haven't used their products in years so I don't know what's available now.

Another thing I've used for problems that nothing else could tackle is Simple Green. I have not used it on concrete or motor oil so I don't know how it would do there.

  • I have seen Simple Green recommended in a youtube DIY video for driveway prep prior to seal coating. – aparente001 Mar 11 '19 at 8:02

Along with kitty litter, I've used Grease Lightning on oil stains with decent results. Again it's cheap and can be used for cleaning your kitchen if it doesn't work out.

  • see @Stefano Borini's answer where he says NOT to use muriatic acid. See this link which also says not to use muriatic acid - essortment.com/home/removeoilconcr_sbdw.htm. – Jeff Widmer Nov 16 '10 at 10:26
  • @Jeff - I'll take it out of my answer. I know why and how it "works", but it's really a last resort. I'm intrigued by the lime and turpentine paste. – Steve Jackson Nov 16 '10 at 15:31

Royal purple is the best. This is a magical product that actually consumes the oil with enzymes, and is environmentally friendly. Hands down the best stuff for cleaning oil off a driveway. Spray on oil stain let sit for 30 minutes hose down and the stain is gone.


Oil Grabber works perfectly. I used it on my driveway, as well as for fat oils around my grill, and it removed it all.

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