How To Remove Old Oil Stains From Driveway? A Practical Guide

Kenneth Wilson

There is nothing as bothersome and tiring as dealing with older oil stains on your driveway, whether it is made from concrete, stones, or bricks. When your driveway gets old, it will inevitably get some old oil stains on it as cars stay and drive over it, causing headaches when trying to get it clean.

The first thing you need to do is soak the oil spot with chemicals, either a detergent, a poultice, or even an oven cleaner. Once the oil has become moistened or loose, apply something that can soak both the oil and the chemical up, sawdust, cat litter, or sand, which will absorb the heavy cleaner and the oil.

There are several ways, techniques, tricks, and cheats to clean up old oil stains from your driveway, all requiring more or less the same steps. It is important to remember you do not want to oil to be simply washed away down the drain or into your grass, as this causes more problems.  

What Are the Tools Needed to Remove Oil Stains?

You will need a few tools to properly clean old stains out of your driveway; simply leaving chemicals to do their work won’t always solve the problem. Instead, we recommend getting a few things that will help everything soak up the oil and make it easier to clean up afterward.

Generally, there are four things that you will need to clean up an old oil stain; some of them are the same tools you would use on fresh stains. Many people assume cleaning oil stains is easy, and you only need to apply some chemicals and leave it all to work.

Something to Soak Up the Oil

This is the most important part of cleaning, new or old oil stains; there has to be something that can easily absorb the oil from the driveway. Oil will kill your grass, plants, and anything you may be trying to grow, so you must soak it up to prevent this.

Further, you cannot simply wash oil down the drains along the street; not only is this dangerous to the environment, but it carries hefty fines. You will have to dispose of the oil properly, which is why having something that can absorb the oil is so important to the process.  

A Chemical to Clean the Oil

There are several chemicals and tricks to cleaning oil from your driveway that you need to consider when starting the process. Each of these chemicals will react differently with new or old oil stains, which further changes the effectiveness of cleaning the driveway.

We recommend using chemicals that are not too dangerous to the environment or your plants as you will be washing some of this away. However, it should be noted that the stronger the chemicals you are using, the higher the chances are that you will be able to properly clean the stain.  

Something to Scrub the Oil Away

Many people think that cleaning oil stains from the driveway will be as easy as applying a chemical and just leaving it. However, this is not true, and you will have to scrub the spots where the oil is; this is to work the oil loose and allow the chemicals to properly bubble and foam with the oil.

We recommend that you always have two things to scrub with, a good broom that can get wet and a brush that can properly clean the oil. Hard nylon brushes will properly clean the oil stain without scratching your driveway, which is exactly what will happen if you use steel brushes.  

A Safe Way to Dispose of the Oil

Once you have applied the chemical, brushed the stains, and soaked up everything with sand, sawdust, or kitty litter, you need to dispose of the now contaminated material. Scooping everything up into a trash bag and taking them to a local petrol station or auto repair shop should work.

These places already have to dispose of oil and will have separated bins to dispose of the oil, usually for free. This allows you to safely dispose of the oil while avoiding fines and any run-off into your garden, killing plants you have been working to keep alive.  

What Are the Steps to Removing Oils Stains?

Now that we know the basic tools you will need, including how to dispose of the oil, we need to look at the steps to cleaning the oil. It can be easy to do one step out of order, causing the oil stain to be permanent or to become more widespread.

The worst feeling is scrubbing everything, using the soaking material, and cleaning everything only for the oil stain to be untouched. If you are ding everything in the wrong order or simply not cleaning the stain with strong enough chemicals, it can leave it untouched.

  1. 1
    Soak up the oil: First, we need to ensure that there is no wet oil on the surface that you are cleaning, preventing the cleaning material from working properly. We recommend soaking up any oil on the driveway to ensure that you are only going to work on the stain.
  2. 2
    Dispose of soaking material: Once all the oil that does not stain has been soaked up, dispose of them in your trash bag. Ensure that this bag does not get mixed up with your normal trash bags.
  3. 3
    Use chemicals: On the spot where the stains are on your driveway, we recommend that you start applying the cleaning chemicals. A good layer will be around one to two millimeters thick to ensure enough for the concrete to suck in the chemical.
  4. 4
    Scrubbing: Once the chemicals spread throughout the stain, you need to start scrubbing the affected area. Forcing the stain to the surface, helping whichever chemical you are using to clean out all of the soakings in oil.
  5. 5
    Soaking up: Once you have sufficiently scrubbed the oil stains, you need to spread sand, kitty litter, or sawdust onto the areas. Allowing everything to be soaked up instead of just drying on the driveway or being washed away with the rain and water.
  6. 6
    Dispose of properly: Pick up whatever you have used to soak up the oil and chemicals using a scoop and a broom. Disposing of everything in the plastic bag you used earlier, taking the material to a petrol station or panel beater to dispose of everything properly.


Cleaning old oil stains from your driveway should never be a difficult thing to do and will usually only take a few hours of scrubbing. However, the best way to avoid stains on your driveway will always be to prevent oil from getting on it, with simple tarps and buckets working the best.

Always remember, once the oil has been left, baked, stained, and generally undisturbed for months, it can become permanent!

Kenneth Wilson
October 24, 2021
Contractor Tips, Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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