Nearly everyone spills a little bit of motor oil from time to time. In fact, it happens so often that the EPA estimates around 200 million gallons of motor oil gets spilled or improperly disposed of each year. So chances are that you have or will spill oil at some point in your life.
Most oil spills occur while performing routine maintenance. This includes mixing small engine fuel, changing your car’s oil or adding oil to power tools. So when it inevitably happens to you, do not panic. You can clean it up and dispose of it properly to restore your garage to its formerly clean condition.
Before you begin, you will need to get your materials. There are a few ways to go about cleaning, each of which requires its own tools. In general, you will need an old rag or paper towels, detergent and a brush.
Oil Stain Removal Methods
Laundry Detergent Solvents
Laundry soaps and detergents perform wonderfully when applied to newer spills. In fact, this method works so well that NASCAR employs it when they need to clean up a spill. You can use powdered or liquid detergents, but powdered soaps work best.
To use the laundry soap solvent method you will need paper towels or an old rag, a nylon brush, a bucket, warm water and your detergent of choice.
Begin by cleaning up as much of the excess oil as you can. You can use an old rag or paper towels. Just make sure you absorb as much with your towels as possible before your concrete does. The porous nature of concrete allows it to soak up liquid spills. The longer oil sits, the worse the stain.
Next, mix a lot of laundry soap into a bucket with warm water. You want a nice, bubbly soapy mixture saturated with soap. Pour this water-soap mixture onto the stain, covering it completely. Then add some more laundry soap directly on the stain. Then, with a nylon brush, scrub the stain as thoroughly as you can.
Last up, hose the stain down with a garden hose. Try to get it as high pressure as you can for better results.
Industrial Grade Degreasers
You really cannot go wrong with an industrial grade degreaser. They work incredibly well at cleaning up tough stains and spills, and they do it very quickly as well. However, this comes with a tradeoff. Industrial grade degreasers cost more than other methods. So while you get a better result faster, it will cost you.
You will need paper towels or an old rag, your degreaser, a brush and a broom. Start by blotting up as much oil as you can. Next, spray the degreaser directly on the spill. For old stains, you may want to put in some elbow grease and scrub the stain with the brush after spraying it.
Now wait for the degreaser to dry into a powder. This may take a few hours, but the industrial grade product will perform faster than other detergents. Once it dries, sweep up the powder for disposal. The stain should disappear once it completely dries out.
Use caution when dealing with industrial products. Protect your eyes with safety glasses or goggles and your hands with rubber gloves. Try to get as much ventilation going on in your garage as possible to avoid breathing in any potentially harmful fumes from the degreaser you choose.
For the environmentally conscious, you can choose to use an eco-friendly degreaser. These work in just about the same fashion as the industrial grade degreasers and you will need the same tools.
Clean the area first with a paper towel, apply the degreaser with a rag or paper towel and then wait for it to dry. Eco-friendly degreasers take longer to clean and may need as much as eight hours before they dry into a powder. Once dry, you can sweep it up for disposal.
Eco-friendly degreasers will also leave a wet spot for a few days. Once this completely dries, the stain should disappear.
If you need to clean up a spill quickly but do not have any detergents, you can create a solution from common household products. Kitty litter works wonders at absorbing oil spills. WD-40 also can work to get stains out. Another solution consists of mixing sawdust and paint thinner for an absorbing and grease cutting solution.
When all else fails, you can pick your favorite soap you have lying around, roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing. Oil spills happen so do not fret when you spill some in your garage. Jump on the spill as soon as you can for the best result.
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