There are few things worse than finding a new stain on your otherwise perfect driveway. Stains can be caused by a number of different things: oil, paint, rust, chemicals, cleaners, and anything else you can think of that would leave a permanent mark.
We’ve all been there–your car has a bad gasket or you knock over a can of paint right after you opened it–as people we’re all prone to mistakes and mishaps. How you get rid of that stain really depends on which kind you have, how long it’s been allowed to set, and what kind of material your driveway is made out of (in this post we’ll focus on concrete).
Today, I’ll be talking about the most common causes of driveway stains and how to get rid of them.
We’ve all seen the result of an oil leak on our driveways. For the most part, they’re just a minor annoyance, and something that looks kind of cool after it’s been raining.
Oil won’t damage your concrete, so if it’s just a minor stain that’s been there a while, if you don’t mind having an imperfect driveway, then the do-nothing approach is certainly the most convenient solution. For everyone else, there are a couple of ways to go about removing an oil stain from your driveway.
Absorb the Stain
The first way that comes to mind can only be done right after, before the oil has been given a chance to dry. If you take a bag of sawdust, kitty litter, snow melt, or any other similar product, and pour it over the oil, let it sit for a few minutes, and then sweep it up.
Really, anything that can be used to absorb the oil, but is big enough to be removed (for example, baking powder won’t work because the consistency is too fine). It also helps if you step/stomp on the cat litter, or even put some weights/bricks down to help push everything down so more is absorbed.
Degrease the Stain
You can also use products to clean up the oil stain. There are actually degreasers on the market that are made specifically for getting rid of oil stains on driveways. The Seal-Krete Oil Stain Remover is a great and effective option. You can find it for about $12 at your local Home Depot.
When you use a degreaser, it also helps if you use a wire brush (metal or plastic) to scrub the stain before washing it all away. Just follow the instructions on the bottle and you should be all set.
For major stains that have been sitting for a long time, muriatic acid is a great option. Although, it’s not a great idea for finished (such as stamped concrete) or painted surfaces since the acid can eat through any coating that isn’t concrete.
For more info on common household issues, check out this post: 13 Common Household Problems.
Another very common stain to have on your driveway is paint. In a lot of cases, you’ll be able to get most (if not all) of the paint off just be using a sponge, some soap, and water from an ordinary garden hose.
However, there are times when some extra effort is required, especially when the paint is allowed to dry in the summer sun.
Power Wash the Stain
In these cases, mineral spirits, paint thinner, and other similar stripping products are all good options. You can also buy or rent a power washer to get the job done, or even hire a professional power washing company and just let them handle it (it’s usually about $75 to $200 to have done, depending on the size of your driveway and cost of labor in your area).
Another common nuisance when it comes to your concrete driveway is rust. This one is actually pretty easy to take care of without having to buy anything.
Clean the Stain
I’ve found that a mixture of vinegar and water works pretty well, and I’ve heard that lemon juice can do the trick as well. If that solution doesn’t work for you, then you may want to try some Iron Out Rust and Stain Remover, which can be found for about $15 at your local Home Depot.
There are a number of products on the market that will do the trick (like CLR), so it should just be a matter of finding one that works for you. Muriatic acid can also do the trick in a situation like this, but that shouldn’t be necessary in most cases.
As long as you follow these basic cleaning methods, you shouldn’t have any problems getting the stains off of your driveway. If you keep trying and still can’t seem to get it out, just remember there are always professionals right around the corner you can call to take care of the problem for you.