How Do You Clean Oil Off of A Driveway?

Estimated reading time 7 minutes

An oil stain on your driveway can make your once stunning drive look significantly unsightly. Where your front garden was complemented by a vibrant resin bound driveway or supplemented with an intricate block paving driveway, it suddenly becomes more an eyesore than a welcoming gateway to your home.

In addition to the messy appearance they give, oil stains can also lead to further problems with your drive that could see you seeking professional help from a specialist surfacing company if left too long.

Immediate action is needed to help maintain the lifespan of your drive and keep that kerb appeal. In this edition of our blog, we help you find the easiest ways to remove oil stains from a driveway and keep it looking like it should.

Why are there oil stains on my driveway?

You may well be scratching your head wondering how it got there, that large driveway oil stain that you’re certain wasn’t there yesterday. The problem is though, it is! How are you going to get rid of it and where did it come from?

In most cases, the likely culprit of the spilt oil on the driveway is your car. Or anyone else’s car that parks on your drive. Oil stains on the drive from vehicles are by far the most common cause. A small leak can soon develop into something significant, and even if the leak remains small, the oil can spread and cause a much bigger stain than you thought!

In addition to your vehicle leaking oil, you may also find you’ll be removing oil from your driveway due to other reasons too. Other common causes include:

  • Leaks from garden equipment: If you have used tools or a lawnmower near your drive and have to navigate your way back over it when finished, you may drip oil onto it without noticing.
  • Spillages: Perhaps the second most common cause. A spillage when carrying out vehicle maintenance can be damaging to your drive if not dealt with right away.
  • The weather: This is likely to be one not given much thought, but rainwater can easily carry oil from other surfaces and end up on your drive. These oil residues will then begin to blemish your driveway as the rainwater dries.

Why is it so important to remove oil stains from the driveway?

Aside from being unsightly and making your driveway look neglected, oil stains on a driveway can pose risks to both the environment and the longevity of your drive. Oil is a substance that finds a way to stay around longer than you want it to. Where it may not be visible in liquid form, its chemical make-up allows it to seep through porous surfaces leaving stains and blemishes on the driveway. So even when you think the oil may be gone, its presence is still very much evident.

If your driveway has an oil stain on it, you may be thankful when a deluge of rain comes but this could actually be the worst possible outcome. Oil and water battle against each other and the water normally carries the oil away with it. However, this doesn’t dilute the oil to a level where it is untraceable. Instead, the oil is moved by the water, and it leaves a trace as it is transported. This means oil seeping into drains, rivers and ponds putting wildlife and plant life at risk.

How to clean oil stains off a driveway

Hopefully, you have discovered the cause of the oil stain on your driveway. If not, you could be cleaning it after reading this only for it to happen again shortly after. Before doing a clean-up, look to see if you can find the cause. If you can, look to rectify the problem. For example, if it’s an oil leak on your car, see if it is something you can fix. If it’s due to spillage, make sure the spilled items are now stored safely elsewhere.

Once you are ready to attack the driveway oil stain, prepare to tackle it by collecting the right materials. This would include:

  • Safety wear such as gloves and safety goggles
  • A bucket of hot water
  • Absorbent cloths
  • A stiff brush
  • An absorbent material like sawdust or cat litter
  • A cleaning product suitable for the driveway type (we’ll cover these below)

Cleaning oil off a block paving driveway

Block paving driveways need a strong degreaser that is scrubbed thoroughly into the surface to help remove the oil stain. Leave it for a short while, a minute or two should be sufficient. Then apply boiling water to the stain. This water combined with the degreaser should remove the oil stain. Use your stiff brush if need be.

Cleaning oil off a tarmac driveway

Tarmac driveways require quite a simple cleaning method to remove oil stains. Using warm water and washing up liquid, scrub the stained area aggressively. This should remove oil residue.

Cleaning oil off a resin driveway

Resin driveways are best treated if you apply a layer of baking soda or degreaser and allow it to settle for a while on the oil stain. After a while, say, one or two minutes, use your scrubbing brush to remove the oil.

If the oil stain is fresh, you can attack it without having to necessarily follow the methods above. Instead, using your absorbent product, cover the oil stain with it generously. Allow it to sit on the oil for at least 24 hours. This should soak up the oil residue. Safely dispose of the material and if need be, use the steps we covered earlier to remove any remaining oil stains.

Oil stains should be treated as soon as possible. This will stop the oil from making its way deep into the surface and lead to more aggressive cleaning methods.

How can I prevent oil stains on a driveway?

Sometimes, you may not be aware of where the oil leak is coming from, but it would be a fair assumption to say it’s likely to be your vehicle. Consider putting cardboard or a form of container under the vehicle to stop any leaks from reaching the drive. You could also think about doing this with garden equipment to further minimise the risk of oil leaking onto your driveway.

Ensure your vehicle is regularly maintained too. This will allow leaks and other problems to be rectified before they get much worse. You should also inspect your car and garden equipment often. This will allow you to address problems much faster.

Finally, look at driveway sealing. Using a sealant on your driveway can help extend its life but also repel oil stains and make the cleaning of spills considerably easier.

Preventative maintenance is essential to help maintain the quality of your driveway. Making driveway spot cleaning part of your weekly or fortnightly schedule can go a long way to helping keep your driveway at its best.

If your driveway has seen better days and no level of preventative maintenance can restore it to its best, contact our team at Tidey & Webb. With over 40 years of experience, we offer residential surfacing solutions that provide longevity and quality. Our knowledgeable team will pass on their expertise so we can help you find the ideal driveway for your home.

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