A nice clean driveway can help with your home’s curb appeal, and it will also help prevent damage to your asphalt, stone or concrete. So pick a sunny day and get out there and clean for an hour or so. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Before you get started, you may want to sweep your driveway. Nothing’s more annoying than leaves, rocks and sticks digging into your knees while you’re trying to buff out a stain.
Cleaning the Driveway
1. Assemble your supplies
Here’s what you will need to remove most common stains from your driveway, which are oil or grease from your car:
- A bag of kitty litter (or a box or two of corn starch or baking soda)
- A good, hardy scrub brush, such as a grill brush
- A shop broom (one appropriate for outdoor work)
- Dish soap, laundry detergent or soda
- A bucket (gallon size or larger)
If you have a different type of stain on your driveway, such as paint or rust, or you don’t have a stain, you just want to give the driveway a good scrubbing, you can skip the kitty litter and steps one and two below.
2. Sop up any liquid pooled on the driveway
Kitty litter by design is meant to be absorbent, making it perfect for this job. Corn starch or baking soda will work as well, though they don’t come in the convenient large bag. Before you ask, yes dried-on liquid can be absorbed too, though it is best to catch it when it’s still wet of course.
Open the bag or box and cover the entire area of the stain in a layer of litter or your absorbent material of choice. Make the layer about a quarter inch thick so that you’re sure all of the liquid is covered. Then grind the grains into the spot with your broom (a shop broom works better than the common kitchen variety, and you won’t want to use it in the kitchen after it’s covered in oil), or if you’re feeling adventurous, with the toe of your shoe. Once you’re done telling that kitty litter who’s boss, let it set for at least an hour so it can absorb as much of the liquid as possible.
3. Sweep up the mess
Now, this step is easy. All you have to do is take the broom and sweep up the fluid-soaked litter, and then throw it in the trash can. (Motor oil and grease is hazardous, so be sure to dispose of it properly.)
4. Do some heavy duty washing
For this step you will need a mixture of water and dish detergent (the kind you use in the dishwasher or the kind you use in the sink – up to you). If you don’t have any dish detergent available, you can use laundry detergent or a two-liter bottle of Coke or Pepsi — really. Just start with whatever solution is the most convenient, and move to another remedy if the first one doesn’t work for you.
Pour about a cup of your cleaner of choice in the bucket and then add lukewarm water, or use hot water for a very stubborn stain. Mix the water and cleaner together with a stick or a spoon for a more uniform solution. None of these solutions are toxic or will cause damage to your driveway, so you can add more of the cleaning agent if needed. Just remember that a drop or two goes a long way.
Once you’ve gotten your cleaning solution together, pour it on the driveway stain, making sure to coat the entire stain. Then get ready to use your elbow grease. A hose with a sprayer nozzle can help too.
Kneel down on the driveway (you may want to wear old clothes for this), grab your grill brush or other scrub brush and get to work. Depending on how soiled your driveway is, it may take quite a bit of good hard work to remove the stain. (Recruiting a friend or unsuspecting neighbor to help you can help make the time pass faster, and cut down on the wear and tear on your elbows). Or, you may luck out and the spot will disappear in a just few minutes.
5. Rinse the driveway
Once you’ve gotten the stain out, or at least faded to your satisfaction, rinse off the cleaning solution with your garden hose or by pouring a bucket of clean water over it. Then leave your clean driveway to dry in the sun.
Removing Driveway Stains
Steps above didn’t work for you? Try repeating them one more time.
If that still doesn’t work, buy a commercial stain remover from your local home improvement store and repeating the steps above with that. Some commercial cleaners are toxic or corrosive, so you may want to wear rubber gloves to protect. And always follow the directions on the container for proper disposal.
Another good method to try is to use a power washer. You can purchase one at most home improvement stores, and many equipment companies offer them for rental. Be sure to discuss your cleaning project with an employee so he or she can recommend the right washer for you to use. Want the same results without the hassle? Hire a professional to come out and pressure wash your driveway for you.
Keeping your driveway clean
The driveway is an area that is very difficult to keep clean, mainly since it stays outside 24/7, so it is always subject to dirt and debris. However, you can play a part in minimizing the stains due to leaks from your car. If you’re changing your oil at home, or you know that your vehicle has a leak, lay down newspaper, a sheet or other material to absorb the liquid before it ends up on the driveway. This will save you a lot of future headaches, not to mention aching arms.