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How to Remove Oil Stains From Concrete


Surface contaminants like oil can impact the success or failure of your coating. “If the oil isn’t removed, it will eventually seep back through to the surface and ruin your new decorative treatment,” writes Chris Sullivan on The size and age of the stain will determine how hard it will be to clean.

Oil stains are common wherever there is vehicle traffic, like garage floors and concrete driveways. Other facilities where you’ll encounter oil stains include car washes or wash bays; cooling towers; food processing plants; automotive repair shops; and parking garages.

Here are the 4 best ways to remove oil stains from concrete when preparing the surface for coating:

1 – Detergent

Small spills or superficial spots can sometimes be removed with just a strong detergent, scrub brush or sponge.

2 – Concrete Degreaser

A commercial concrete cleaner and degreaser can be scrubbed into the concrete surface. CPC™ is a heavy-duty, citrus-based concrete stripper and degreaser that is easy to use, and has a pleasant orange smell with low VOCs.

Apply the degreaser full strength to remove heavy dirt buildup, tire marks, oil spills, grease, hydraulic fluid and any hard-to-remove contaminants from the concrete surface. Allow it to soak into the surface for 20 minutes.

Work the degreaser in with a stiff broom or floor buffer (swing scrubber). After scrubbing the floor, rinse thoroughly with water, then vacuum or squeegee the floor dry. Re-application may be necessary for extremely dirty, stained floors. Degreasers are typically more effective on porous concrete than on concrete with a hard or dense finish.

3 – Poultice

Another way to remove oil stains from concrete is a poultice, especially for small, stubborn stains. Make a poultice by soaking absorbent material (like kitty litter, pool filter media, or sawdust) with a strong solvent (such as acetone, xylene, lacquer thinner, or MEK), then spreading the material over the stain.

Cover the poultice with plastic. The solvent will break down the oil, while the absorbent material draws it out of the concrete. Note, this process takes time and may be impractical for large stains.

4 – Microorganisms

The newest advance in oil stain removal are special single-celled microorganisms—the same ones used to clean beaches and waterways after large oil spills. These microorganisms consume crude oil and its derivatives. When the oil is gone, the organisms die, leaving the concrete clean and oil-free.

Dealing with a tough stain or other challenge on the job site? Wondering which approach to try first? Let our flooring experts help: schedule a no-obligation chat here.

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