Tips for removing driveway stains
If you can attack a stain when it's fresh, you'll have more success in cleaning it up completely. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Debra R. of Aiken, S.C.)
When guests visit your house, one of the first things they'll see is your driveway, so it's important to keep it looking great. Because your driveway usually stores all manner of leaky vehicles or containers, it can often wind up collecting all kinds of stains.
Removing these driveway stains isn't generally too difficult, but each type of stain possesses some idiosyncrasies that you'll have to understand if you want to get your driveway looking like new again.
The easiest time to clean up a stain on your driveway is right after it happens. If the oil, gasoline or other fluid is still on the surface of the driveway, pour some absorbent material like cat litter or baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a few hours. Then, remove the soiled material and wash the remaining stain with detergent.
Oil or antifreeze stains
Oil and antifreeze stains are the most common driveway stains, and plenty of products can remove these stains. Start by applying a degreaser to the stain, let the area soak for a few minutes and then scrub it in with a stiff brush. After that, clean the area using a pressure washer and a detergent and then power wash the driveway.
If you don't have access to a pressure washer, you can try various cleaning solutions, like dishwasher detergent, trisodium phosphate or commercial concrete cleaner. Just wet the area, scrub in the cleaner and rinse it away. Deep stains may require several attempts to remove them completely.
Hot tires can leave unsightly black marks on sealed concrete driveways, as the chemicals that keep the tires soft can leach into certain types of sealers, leaving black streaks across the concrete. Cleaning these streaks may just require a little degreaser and some scrubbing, or you may need to use a solvent or chemical stripper to remove the sealer. Once the stain is gone, consider resealing the driveway with a higher-quality sealer to prevent the problem in the future.
Stains formed by means other than car liquids or tires can sometimes be difficult to get up, as they don't all disintegrate well when exposed to degreasers or solvents. For stains of unknown origins that don't come up with household cleaners, consider hiring a contractor who has access to a high-power washer or power scrubber. A professional will have access to a wide array of chemicals to get up all kinds of stains and will also be able to efficiently use a power washer to give the driveway a deep cleaning.
Concrete or brick driveways don't need to be sealed as often as asphalt driveways, but there is no better time to reseal a driveway than right after you give it a good cleaning. Let the concrete dry for a few days, and make sure that it won't rain for the next few days after that. Apply the sealer as if you were painting the driveway, then let it dry according to the directions before you start using the driveway again.
Asphalt driveways require a little more care when you're trying to remove driveway stains. Petroleum derivatives will eat into the asphalt and destroy that section of the driveway, so you should avoid any detergents or cleaners that contain solvents. Additionally, the oils that cause the stains in the first place will also damage the driveway, so you'll probably need to reseal the driveway after you clean up the stain.