Does your car leak oil? Leave stains on your driveway and garage floor? Yes – then you’re in the right place. Here you will learn how to remove those stains with a pressure washer.
Hard to believe: Coca Cola has acids strong enough to remove oil stains. Luckily not strong enough to burn through your stomach though.
…Below you will learn which chemical/cleaner is best for removing oil stains from concrete. You will also be taken through how to select the best pressure washer and how to prep the driveway for best results.
Here’s 3 steps to removing oil stains from your concrete driveway with a pressure cleaner:
1. Which Pressure Washer?
There’s 509 different pressure washer options so to save you time here’s the best 6.
On that page are 3 electric and 3 gasoline powered pressure cleaners that are perfect for cleaning your driveway.
Each has different specs so let’s get a bit more concrete driveway cleaning specific.
Gas or Electric?
Verdict: Budget Reliant
Thoughts on Gas:
You could use a gasoline or electric power washer to clean your driveway. Gas is more expensive and more powerful than electric. They have higher flow rate as well so bigger jobs will get done faster. If you are going to buy the cleaner and want to be able to do large jobs with ease (as well as small ones) you’ll be better off in the long run with a gas powered power washer.
Thoughts on Electric:
If you only plan to wash your car, boat and do other odd jobs over the year then electric will perform just fine. And they’re more affordable and don’t require maintenance or trips to the gas station.
Rent or Buy?
For less than $300 you can get a pressure cleaner that will do any cleaning job around your home. And that’s the top end price range. More likely is that you’ll spend $150 and get a medium-duty electric cleaner to clean your car, back deck, fence, boat and driveway. So since power washers have so many uses why not buy one and make good use of it?
On the flip side hiring a pressure washer is $65 upwards to $140 for one day. That’s an electric cleaner bought outright.
Verdict: Doesn’t Matter
You can adjust effective PSI based on the nozzle you use and how far you hold the wand above the surface. In general, a medium duty PSI of 1700 – 2800 is perfect for driveway cleaning.
Verdict: At least 1.5 GPM
GPM is more important to cleaning speed than you might first think. If you double the GPM while keeping PSI the same you double the cleaning ability of the pressure cleaner. With a job as small as a residential driveway, 1.5 GPM to 2.5 GPM is good. Most washers in this range are $100 to $300 (affordable).
Hot or Cold Water?
Verdict: Cold (Because Hot Water Pressure Cleaners Are Expensive)
Choosing hot or cold water is based on your budget. I’ve gone with cold because the most affordable hot water cleaner is about $1000. And, although it will make any cleaning job much more efficient, it’s a lot of money to spend for odd jobs around the home. If you can afford it get a hot water one.
Which Nozzle and Attachment?
Verdict: Surface Cleaner or Rotary Nozzle
A surface cleaner evenly spreads the jet wash over a 12 inch or more area, cleaning that entire area in 1 go. It will speed up the job immensely. A rotary nozzle, also called turbo nozzle, is a high pressure nozzle that will blast away the toughest concrete stains. It shoots water in a circular pattern and makers claim it cleans 40% faster than regular nozzles.
2. Prepping The Concrete Driveway
Check out this video from Karcher North America on driveway cleaning:
Absorb Any Surface Oil
If you’re cleaning a recent oil spill be sure to take a rag and absorb as much oil as you can before it soaks into the concrete.
Remove Cars, Bikes From Driveway
It seems obvious, but I thought it still deserved a mention… Make sure you park your car on the street away from possible flying debris.
Brush Loose Debris Off Driveway
You can use a brush or use the 25 degree nozzle to wash away all the loose dirt before applying the detergent/chemical to the concrete.
3. Removing The Oil Stains And Cleaning Away All The Mildew And Grease
Which Chemical To Use?
Deciding which chemical/product to use to make the clean easiest depends on a few factors. “How long has the stain been there?” is the main factor for deciding how to get rid of it. The longer its been there the stronger a chemical it needs – degreaser will usually be required.
If you act fast you’ll probably get away with using dish soap or Coca Cola.
Let’s look at the different options and how to use them:
- Degreaser: For the toughest oil stains you’ll need to use a degreaser. A degreaser is an alkaline cleaner that eats away at the oil stain. Follow the instruction on the degreaser container. Usually you’ll mix with water, spray on the stain, scrub it in and then wait for a few hours before pressure cleaning away. You may need to re-apply several times to fully destroy the oil stain.
- “All-in-One” Pressure Cleaner Detergent Products: Krud Kutter makes one of these that costs $10 for a gallon.
- Coca Cola: Thanks to Coca Cola’s carbonic and phosphoric acid it works wonders on stains – even oil stains on your concrete driveway. Dump a can or two on the stain and leave it overnight. Pressure wash it away the next day and the majority of the stain should be gone.
- Dish Soap: Dish soap may work for light-duty stains. Mix the soap with some water and liberally apply it to the concrete. Scrub it in with a brush, leave for a little while and then pressure clean.
- Be sure to check out this in-depth guide on concrete cleaners.
Pressure Cleaning Technique
(Always be sure to read pressure washer User’s Manual before use)
- Cover/block off street storm drain so you’re not polluting your state’s waters.
- Connect home water supply to power cleaner.
- Place unit away from the job so it doesn’t get in the way. Use the hose length to your advantage.
- Connect surface cleaner or rotary nozzle.
- Turn pressure washer on.
- Begin cleaning.
- Complete job safely making note of hazards.
Two Bonus Tips:
- Wait 48 hours before assessing if the stain is removed. There may remain a bit of shading on the concrete where the oil stain once was. Wait 48 hours to see if that goes away. Oftentimes it will slowly disappear over 1 day or 2 as the concrete fully dries.
- Charge other people money for you to clean their driveways with your new pressure washer. Once you have a brand new looking driveway you could make a sign just like real estate agents do advertising your pressure cleaning driveways service to your neighbours. Providing a great service at a fair price is always a great way to make money.
Safety, Safety, Safety
High pressure water is no joke. Be sure you read the safety section in the pressure washer User Manual. Be sure to wear closed in shoes, safety glasses, long pants and hearing protection if you’re using a gasoline powered washer.
Sources And Useful Links
1. The power washing article on cleaning a concrete driveway in the landscaping section of Answers.com was reviewed during the research phase.
2. There’s some drawbacks to pressure washing your concrete driveway and Cement.org does a good job explaining them in this article.
3. HGTV’s article on power washing a driveway was helpful in clarifying a few steps. Check out the article here.
4. eHow’s 7 step process is simple and clear. I used it in the initial stages to help create my article outline.
5. Driveway before after image credit: User Kaffein on Reddit.