Concrete stains can not only be a real pickle to get out, but they can also be some of the biggest eyesores for a homeowner. Some of the most common are oil stains in a garage, which can turn the look of a home from “brand new” to “fixer upper” real quick.

Fear not, there are several effective ways to remove concrete stains, depending on the type of stain. Let’s get into it!

#1 – Cleaning Oil Stains w/ TSP

The most annoying stains in concrete are oil stains.  These often develop due to leaky oil pans of cars parked in the garage or driveway.  The reason they are so annoying is because they don’t respond well to common cleaning practices.

You can’t scrub away an oil stain.  The trick is to “soak up” the stain using a special paste.  One option is with Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) or a TSP-substitute.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Combine TSP and water at a ratio of 1 oz. TSP per 1 cub of water.
  • Mix to a paste (the consistency of thick cream).
  • Layer the paste over the stain, about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Let dry for 24 hours.
  • Scrape up the dried paste.  Discard.
  • Wash area with water and brush.
  • Repeat as necessary.

#2 – Cleaning Oil Stains w/ Cat Litter

Cat litter? Yes, you read it right.  The trick in this situation is to provide an absorbent material that can soak up a stain.  As we did in the previous step with TSP (which is the most effective), we do again here with a hacked together group of misfits, Cola and Cat Litter.

Materials necessary:

  • Small bag of cat litter.
  • 1-2 liters of Cola.
  • Stiff brush or broom.
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach

Cover the stain with cat litter and brush it thoroughly into the stain.  Sweep up litter and follow it by pouring the Cola, and brushing that in as well.  Wait 20 minutes.

Make a mixture of 1/4 cup each of bleach and laundry detergent, and 1 gallon water, and mob up the cola/stain mixture.

#3 – WD-40 for Oil Stains

Anything can be fixed with WD-40 or duct tape, and we are all out of duct tape.

In all seriousness, WD-40 has lots of uses outside of squeaky tools and doors hinges.  in this application we will use it to help soak up an oil stain.

Simple enough, spray down the stain liberally with WD-40, let sit for 10 minutes, and spray it down with a hose.

#4 – Kool Aid for Rust Stains

Another strange use of random household items, getting rust stains out of concrete is as simple as using unsweetened Kool Aid mix, combining with hot water, and scrub the rust stain.

If that isn’t effective, you might need to get a little more involved.

#5 – Muriatic Acid for Rust Stains

This method is essentially dissolving a thin layer of your concrete in order to get rid of the stain.  It should only be used when you have been unsuccessful at other methods.

Because we are using acid, it will be inherently dangerous, so safety precautions are required:

  • Rubber Gloves, boots and protective eyewear and knee-pads.
  • Acid-vapor rated respirator.
  • Protect surrounding areas of plastic tarps.
  • Always follow manufacturers directions for acid dilution.
  • Have open windows or ventilation fan to insure airflow.

Once you have safety precautions in place, follow these steps:

  1. Add 1/4 cup of the acid to 2 cups of water.  Use a shallow plastic pan for this. NEVER add water to acid, always acid to water (to insure dilution).
  2. Use a long handle broom/brush with plastic bristles to apply a thin layer to the stain.  Wait 5 minutes to observe effect.
  3. Rinse and brush thoroughly with water.  Be careful here, don’t let water rinse to plant life or the lawn, as the acid could kill it.
  4. Repeat if necessary, but don’t over do it.  The acid is dissolving your concrete, so you don’t want to dissolve it too much.