Not long ago, I was strolling through my yard when I noticed some of my pavers looked discolored. At first, I thought it was just a bit of dust or a damp spot from a recent rainstorm. But when I looked closer, I realized that wasn’t the case. It was an oil stain, and the only thought on my mind after that was figuring out how to remove oil stains from pavers.
You have several options for getting rid of oil stains on pavers. Pressure washing, baking soda, cat litter, or corn starch can work well for fresher oil. For slightly set stains, dish soap, vinegar, and laundry detergent could do the trick. On old stains, consider commercial degreasers.
However, the options above aren’t the only ones available. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into all available choices, ranging from natural options to commercial and chemical-based products. Here’s a look at options for eliminating oil stains on pavers.
- Can You Remove Oil Stains from Pavers?
- How to Remove Oil Stains from Pavers: 14 Ways
- Can You Use OxiClean on Pavers?
- Will Vinegar Destroy Pavers?
- Does Baking Soda Damage Concrete Pavers?
- How Do You Remove Old Oil Stains from a Driveway?
- The Best Way to Remove Oil Stains from Pavers
Can You Remove Oil Stains from Pavers?
Fortunately, you can take care of oil stains on pavers. The trick is choosing the right method. In most cases, pavers are porous. Since that’s the case, oil seeps into the material over time, making it harder to clean up the oil.
Choosing the right approach isn’t overly challenging. Sometimes, you can look at the stain and determine if it’s on the surface or set. The former may require little more than some pressure washing or absorbent material to clean up, while the latter might make cleaning products necessary.
If you aren’t sure whether the stain is set, you might want to begin with natural options. Those are least likely to harm your lawn and aren’t harmful to pets or people. Then, if those don’t work, get more aggressive by choosing stronger cleaners.
However, you do need to rinse away any previous cleaners and let the spot dry before moving on to new ones. Some natural solutions and commercial products can react with one another, and those reactions are potentially dangerous. As a result, it’s better to rinse, wait, and then proceed with another approach.
How to Remove Oil Stains from Pavers: 14 Ways
1. Pressure WasherSometimes, you don’t need anything but water to remove a fresh oil stain. By using a pressure washer, the force of the water can dislodge some of the oil, making it easier to rinse away. Plus, many pressure washers have compatible cleaners you can add, giving you more cleaning power.
If you’re using a pressure washer, you want to start with the lowest possible pressure. Do a test spot in a discreet location to make sure your pavers aren’t damaged by force. Slowly increase the pressure to find an appropriate level that won’t harm the material.
Once you do that, you can start cleaning the pavers. Work in small sections, following the pressure washer’s directions, until the stain is handled.
2. Oil-Absorbing PadsOil-absorbing pads are disposable products specifically designed to soak up and trap oil. You use them like paper towels, physically wiping up the oil to remove it.
This option works best on fresh spills. You can either wipe them up immediately or place a pad on the spot, pressing it firmly to help soak up more oil.
At a minimum, this option removes excess oil, making any cleaner-based approaches more effective. However, for surface oil stains that are still wet, the pads may handle the entire job.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is incredibly absorbent, making it a solid choice for soaking up fresher oil stains. Plus, it’s abrasive but not to the point that it should damage pavers.
Begin by covering the stain in a thick layer of baking soda. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. After that, take a spray bottle filled with water and spritz the outer surface.
Take a stiff-bristled broom and use that to scrub the stained spots with the baking soda. Scrub from multiple angles or use a circular motion. Finally, take a hose and rinse the area with clean water.
If it doesn’t remove all of the stain, you can repeat this process. Just make sure the pavers dry before you try again. If that doesn’t get it all, move on to a cleaner-based option to remove the remaining oil.
4. Cornmeal or CornstarchIf your oil stain is still wet, cornmeal or cornstarch are natural, highly-absorbent materials that can soak up the oil. Apply a thick layer of cornmeal or cornstarch to the spot, ensuring you can’t see the oil stain beneath it.
Leave the cornmeal or cornstarch in place for several hours. Then, sweep it up to see if you’ve tackled the stain. If not, you can recoat and wait a few more hours before sweeping or proceed to a cleaner-based option to tackle the deeper part of the stain.
For this to work, you do need dry conditions. Cornstarch and cornmeal can absorb rainwater, making it less effective. Additionally, heavy rain may wash it away, so only use it if the pavers are dry aside from the oil, and rain isn’t likely for at least eight hours.
5. Cat LitterFor fresher oil spills on your pavers, consider trying cat litter. Clay-based cat litter is highly absorbent and readily available. Plus, you can use lower-end brands if you prefer, keeping the cost low.
Take the cat litter and put a thick layer over the oil spill. Make sure the litter is heavily applied enough that you can’t see the oil spill underneath. Then, leave it in place for several hours before sweeping it up.
In most cases, fresh oil spills that haven’t penetrated the material are gone after a few hours. If anything remains, consider using one of the cleaner-based options below to deal with the rest.
It’s important to note that the cat litter approach won’t work if your pavers are exposed to the elements and it’s raining. In that case, the cat litter may absorb too much rainwater to tackle the oil or get shifted off the stain. As a result, only go this route if it’s dry.
Another option for a fresh oil stain that’s still wet is sand. Sand is porous, so it can absorb the oil, allowing you to sweep it away.
Cover the entire stain with a thick layer of sand and leave it there for several hours. After that, sweep up most of the sand, leaving only a thin layer. Finally, scrub the area with a stiff-bristled broom before sweeping the rest.
If the oil stain isn’t gone, you can try repeating the process. Otherwise, move on to a cleaner-based option.
Vinegar is a natural degreaser that’s safe to use around people and pets. However, it can damage plants, particularly on bright, sunny days.
Begin by diluting the vinegar, creating a 50-50 mix with water in a bucket. For additional oil-fighting power, you can add a tablespoon of dish soap, then stir to combine.
Once you have the solution, pour it over the stain to saturate it thoroughly. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Then, use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub your pavers. After that, you can rinse by spraying the area with a hose.
8. Liquid Dish SoapLiquid dish soap is designed to break down oil and grease and is safe to use around people and pets. Begin by applying dish soap to the stain, ensuring it’s thoroughly saturated. Let it soak for about 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes pass:
- Use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the stain.
- Rinse the area with a hose and see if the oil stain is handled.
- If not, repeat the process.
9. Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent can break down oil, and it’s safe to use around people and pets. You can try liquid or powdered laundry detergent, depending on what you have on hand.
For liquid laundry detergent, pour it directly over the stain. If you’re using powdered, put it straight on the stain to help absorb some oil before beginning and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Then, spritz it with enough water to form a paste.
Use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the spot. After scrubbing, wait another hour. Finally, give it another scrub before rinsing the area with a hose.
WD-40 helps remove moisture and breaks down oil. This is a chemical-based approach. While it’s generally safe to use, you want to ensure that people and pets don’t come in contact with the WD-40 during the process. Additionally, you should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and goggles as a precaution.
Begin by cleaning up any oil on the surface using absorbent pads, cat litter, sand, or a similar option. After that, spray the entire stain with WD-40 until it’s saturated. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. Next, use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the area.
Then, use paper towels to clean the excess before rinsing with a hose. You can remove any remaining WD-40 by sprinkling the spot with cat litter or baking soda and letting it sit. Finally, sweep that up.
Coca-Cola is a simple and surprisingly effective way to clean up oil stains on pavers. Between citric acid and carbonation, it’s an incredibly competent degreaser. In some cases, it outperforms commercial products designed specifically for the task.
If you’re dealing with a fresh oil stain, use cat litter, sand, baking soda, or a similar option to soak up any excess oil. Let that sit for about 30 minutes, then sweep it up.
After that, start pouring room-temperature Coca-Cola on the stain. How much you’ll need depends on the size of the spill, as you want to saturate the area.
Once you pour the Coca-Cola, use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the spot. Make sure to scrub from several directions or use a circular motion. Then, let the Coca-Cola sit for about half an hour before mopping the area with hot water with a squirt of dish soap. Finally, rinse with a hose.
12. Oven CleanerAnother chemical-based approach that’s harsher than some of the options above involves oven cleaner. It’s effective at breaking down oil and grease and works well on older, deeper stains. However, it is harmful to people and pets and can damage plants.
First, you’ll want to wear some PPE, including gloves, goggles, and a breathing mask. Next, spray oven cleaner over your pavers, ensuring you saturate the oil stain. Let it soak for 15 or 20 minutes, keeping people and pets away from the area.
After it soaks, use a stiff-bristled broom to scrub the stain before rinsing with a mop and a bucket of water. Let the area dry to see if you’ve handled the oil stain. If not, repeat the process.
Since you’re working in your yard, consider buying a biodegradable oven cleaner. Efficient versions are available, typically safer for people, pets, and plants. However, their effectiveness on oil-stained pavers may not measure up to a more traditional option.
13. Commercial DegreasersCommercial degreasers are explicitly designed to break down oil and grease. These are chemical-based solutions, so they aren’t always safe for people, pets, or plants. Still, they’re highly effective.
Choose a version designed for your type of paver, as some work better on specific materials. Make sure you put on PPE before using the commercial degreaser. Review the manufacturer’s directions regarding the application, how long it needs to sit when to scrub, and how to rinse.
In most cases, you’ll apply the commercial degreaser to the oil-stained pavers, typically after diluting it with water. Let it soak for the recommended period, which can range from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the product.
After it sits, scrub the area with a stiff-bristled broom, and use a mop and bucket of clean water or a hose to rinse the area.
14. Hire a Professional
For especially stubborn oil stains on pavers, you may want to hire a professional to clean them up. They’ll have access to professional cleaners that aren’t always available to the public. Additionally, they’ll have all of the required equipment to do the job safely and thoroughly and typically guarantee their results.
When you speak with a professional about your stain, provide as much detail as possible. For example, tell them if you have a newer or older oil stain. Tell them what cleaning methods you’ve tried and if they’ve delivered any results.
You’ll also want to tell the company about the paver material. Some cleaners are more effective on specific materials, so informing them in advance can help them prepare for the job.
It’s also wise to contact a few companies and gather quotes. That allows you to compare the prices to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Also, verify their credentials, ensuring they are licensed and insured before you hire anyone.
Can You Use OxiClean on Pavers?You can use OxiClean on pavers. OxiClean is safe on many surfaces, including concrete, stone, and brick. The active ingredient is sodium percarbonate, a powdered version of hydrogen peroxide and washing soda.
Make sure to dilute the OxiClean before use. Usually, you’ll fill the provided scoop to line four. Add that to a bucket with one gallon of warm water, stirring until the OxiClean dissolves.
Once you have the solution, apply it to your pavers using a stiff-bristled outdoor broom. Apply the OxiClean, and leave it in place for five to 30 minutes without letting it dry on the surface. Finally, use the stiff-bristled broom to scrub a bit – applying the right amount of pressure based on the material – and rinse with cool water.
Will Vinegar Destroy Pavers?
Whether vinegar damages your pavers depends on the type, which impacts the acidity level. Additionally, using vinegar straight instead of diluting means you’re using it at its highest concentration, which increases risk.
If you want to avoid damaging your pavers when cleaning with vinegar, make sure you go with white vinegar, not cleaning vinegar, as it’s slightly less acidic. Also, create a 50-50 vinegar-to-water solution to weaken it slightly.
Before you start cleaning a larger area, consider doing a test spot in a discreet location. That will help you see if there are any undesirable reactions.
Additionally, rinse the pavers thoroughly before using vinegar on them. By rinsing, you can remove any residues that may react unfavorably with the vinegar, such as pest control products or lawn treatments.
Also, once you’re done cleaning, rinse the pavers with water to remove any remaining vinegar. You can also apply baking soda to the pavers to neutralize the acid in any vinegar residue before rinsing, though that isn’t always necessary.
No matter what, avoid darker vinegar. Balsamic and red wine vinegar can stain porous materials like concrete, and the discoloration is hard to remove. By sticking with white vinegar, staining isn’t typically an issue.
Does Baking Soda Damage Concrete Pavers?
Baking soda won’t typically damage concrete pavers. It doesn’t react with the materials found in concrete, so it isn’t going to break the pavers down. Additionally, it isn’t known for discoloring concrete and is often a go-to product for removing discoloration from other materials.
As with all cleaners, you do need to exercise caution when scrubbing with baking soda. Excess pressure can cause damaged pavers to crack or crumble regardless of the product you’re using.
As a result, you may want to consider the condition of your pavers before using any cleaner. If they’re in poor shape, replacing them is potentially a better choice.
How Do You Remove Old Oil Stains from a Driveway?
Removing old oil stains from a driveway is similar to getting oil stains off of pavers. The material in concrete pavers and driveways is very similar, so they react the same way if you use one of the approaches above.
In most cases, you’ll want to start with a product that offers some grease-fighting power. Vinegar and dish soap are both solid choices, and you can even combine them if you’d like. Liquid laundry detergent is a similarly strong choice.
For very set oil stains that deeply penetrate the concrete, you might want a commercial degreaser. These chemical-based solutions are incredibly potent, so they’re highly effective. Review the manufacturer’s instructions for PPE recommendations, use risks, and proper application to keep yourself and others safe.
If you have a transmission fluid stain, an oven cleaner is potentially a better choice. Keep in mind that it’s hazardous, so put on appropriate PPE and keep household members and pets away from the area until you’re done.
The Best Way to Remove Oil Stains from Pavers
Which method is best for getting rid of oil stains on your pavers depends on the age of the stain. For fresh spills, cat litter, baking soda, cornstarch, and similar approaches do a similar job. If the stain has set a bit, add a natural or low-risk cleaner like vinegar or dish soap. For older stains, Coca-Cola, oven cleaner, or a commercial degreaser are potentially better bets.