How to Remove Oil Stains from a Driveway

Get rid of oil stains on your driveway with these easy cleaning tips.

Close up of someone scrubbing a driveway wearing a glove
Photo: wattanaphob/Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

A little dirt on your driveway is expected, but the black spots from an oil leak are harder to overlook. Fortunately, you can remove oil stains from a driveway with a few simple cleaning methods. Learn how to get oil off a driveway using common household products, such as dish soap and baking soda. Plus, read up on products specifically designed for tackling tough oil stains on concrete.

Before Getting Started

An oil leak or spill is problematic for your vehicle and can be a headache for your driveway. Those drips and splotches make for unsightly blemishes that detract from the beauty of your home and yard. Removing oil stains from a driveway starts with choosing the right cleaning solution. A variety of household supplies can be used to clean oil spills. However, you might need to call on a more powerful cleaner specially formulated to clean driveways or concrete.

For driveways on an incline, start at the highest point and work your way down so any dirty water and residue doesn't flow over portions you've already cleaned. Keep an eye out for plants and landscaping when using cleaners. Some cleaners provide instructions for protecting plants from runoff and errant sprays. The manufacturer might recommend saturating the surrounding plants, grass and vegetation with water before using the cleaner.

Remember: Oil is flammable. Be diligent with cleaning up spills, and safely discard any materials that have been in contact with the oil.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Heavy-duty scrub brush or stiff nylon brush


  • Cat litter
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • WD-40


How to Remove Oil Stains from a Driveway Using Household Products

Common household products such as cat litter, baking soda, dish soap, and even laundry detergent are prime tools for tackling oil stains. Here's how to use household supplies to get rid of oil stains on a driveway.

  1. Remove Excess Oil

    Start by absorbing any oil sitting on the surface of the driveway. The ultra-absorbent properties of cat litter make it an ideal material for this task. Sprinkle cat litter over a fresh stain and let the cat litter absorb the oil.

  2. Scrub the Stain

    Once the cat litter has absorbed any excess oil, give the stain a good scrubbing with a paste of baking soda and water, then rinse with clean water. Baking soda is a mild alkali that's effective at dissolving dirt and grease.

  3. Lather and Rinse

    Formulated to cut grease, dish soap is another effective solution for treating oil stains on a driveway. Squirt some dish soap on the oil stain. Scrub the stain with a heavy-duty brush. Then rinse away the soap with water. Repeat the process until the oil stain fades.

    Keep in mind that tough driveway materials like concrete and asphalt can withstand heavy scrubbing. Don't shy away from using a little elbow grease and a heavy-duty brush to remove the oil stains.

How to Get Oil Off a Driveway with Laundry Detergent

If you have powdered laundry detergent on hand, try this method for treating oil stains on a driveway.

  1. Apply Detergent

    Sprinkle powdered laundry detergent over the oil spill. Carefully apply enough warm water over the laundry detergent to form a paste.

  2. Scrub the Stain

    Scrub the spot with a stiff nylon brush for approximately two minutes, then let it sit for 15 minutes.

  3. Scrub and Rinse

    Scrub the spot for one additional minute, then rinse away the laundry detergent with clean, warm water.

How to Remove Oil from a Driveway with WD-40

WD-40 is a blend of lubricants that can quiet squeaky hinges, prevent rust, and unstick stubborn parts. The affordable product can also be put to use cleaning oil from a concrete driveway.

  1. Apply WD-40 to Stain

    Spray WD-40 onto the oil stain on your driveway. Make sure the entire effected area is covered.

  2. Scrub and Rinse

    Scrub the oil stain with a heavy-duty scrub brush until clean. Once the stain has been lifted, rinse the area with water.

  3. Apply Cat Litter or Baking Soda (Optional)

    If a faint oil stain remains, apply cat litter or baking soda to the spot and let it soak up the oil for at least an hour. Once saturated, sweep up the litter or baking soda, and rinse the area with water.

Types of Oil Stains

When it comes to cleaning oil off a driveway, it's important to know which type of oil you're dealing with. Below are some of the most common types of oil stains you might encounter.

  • Gasoline: According to the US Energy Information Association, gasoline is a fuel used in vehicle engines that is made from crude oil and other petroleum liquids. If you spot this type of oil on your driveway, apply one of the cleaning methods above as soon as possible, and get your vehicle checked by a professional for any leaks.
  • Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid helps lubricate the bearings and moving metal parts within the transmission of a vehicle. This type of oil stain may be redder in appearance and also come from your car.
  • Motor Oil: Another driveway stain caused by your car comes from motor oil. This oil leaks from the engine. Motor oil is fairly easy to clean off a driveway but should be treated as soon as possible.

Best Tools and Cleaning Products for Removing Driveway Oil Stains

Tough or old oil stains might require something a little more potent than dish soap or laundry detergent. Hardware stores, big-box home improvement retailers, and even auto shops carry a variety of cleaners designed to treat oil stains. Some concrete cleaners and oil stain removers are formulated to be diluted before application, but can also be used full-strength for difficult stains. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper usage.

Power washing is another method for cleaning oil stains on a driveway. If you don't own a power washer, check your local hardware store or home improvement retailer for rental options. Use a concrete and driveway cleaner formulated for use with a pressure washer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the best results.

A good deck scrub brush is also a must-have for cleaning stains on a concrete driveway. Wear work gloves to protect your hands as you scrub to avoid scraping your knuckles on the concrete. You should also wear proper safety gear, according to the product's instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I do about dried oil stains on my driveway?

    The cleaning methods outlined above are all effective at removing dried oil stains on a driveway.

  • Are oil stains on a concrete driveway permanent?

    No. While oil stains can be difficult to remove, they are not permanent. However, it is best to treat fresh oil stains soon after they occur to avoid the oil from further seeping in. Using the methods above, you can effectively get oil off a driveway.

Better Homes & Gardens is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources—including peer-reviewed studies—to support the facts in our articles. Read about our editorial policies and standards to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Gasoline Explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Related Articles