Ask 10 people how to remove oil, grease and rust stains from concrete and you’ll get 10 different answers. Most involve trisodium phosphate (TSP), toluene, xylene or other products found at the hardware store.
Before you go that route, why not try some common household products? These items often do the trick, plus they cost less and are usually safer than store-bought solutions.
Laundry detergent powder. Form a paste by mixing the detergent with warm or hot water. Wet the stained area and apply the paste. Rub it in with a deck brush, wait 10 minutes, apply more paste, then rinse the area with a pressure washer or hose with a high-pressure nozzle.
A variation of this calls for pouring laundry detergent directly on the stain, adding enough water to form a paste, scrubbing the paste into the stain and letting it set overnight. The next day, add a little more water, repeat the scrubbing, then wash away.
Oven cleaner. You can spray oven cleaner directly onto the stain, let it set for 10 minutes, then scrub with the deck brush and rinse. Because of the caustic nature of oven cleaner, be sure to wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear.
Or you can use oven-cleaner to piggyback onto the laundry detergent overnight method. Just follow the directions above, then scrub the stain with soap and water. Dry it with an absorbent towel or paper towel, then spray on the oven cleaner. Vigorously scrub it into the stain, then hose off.
Lemons and white vinegar. These two common household items work wonders on rust stains. Squeeze the lemon or pour the white vinegar onto the stain and let it sit for five or 10 minutes. Add some more lemon juice or vinegar to the spot, then scrub with a deck brush and rinse.
Kool-Aid. Who knew? It turns out Kool-Aid does a lot more than please kids. This kid’s treat can do a man-size job on a concrete floor spotted with rust stains. Just boil some water, add unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid, and pour the mix on the stain. Scrub with the deck brush and rinse.
Cat litter, cola, and bleach. Many people try each of these items individually, but they work most effectively when used together.
Pour a thin layer of cat litter on the grease or oil spot, then grind it in with your shoes. Wait a few minutes, then sweep up the litter. Make sure you dispose the littler like you would paint or other possibly hazardous chemicals. (If unsure how to do this, consult your local waste management firm.)
Next, pour cola onto the stain and scrub it in with the deck brush. Wait 15 or 20 minutes, long enough so that it’s not fizzing but short enough so that it doesn’t dry. Rinse the cola off. Finally, mix one cup of liquid chlorine bleach and one cup of ammonia-free powdered laundry detergent into a gallon of extremely hot water. (Ammonia mixed with bleach creates a poisonous gas, so again, make sure the detergent is ammonia-free.)
Scrub this mixture into the stain, then rinse.
So the next time you find oil stains on concrete garage floor, don’t immediately head for the home improvement store. Head for your cupboard, laundry room or refrigerator.