You don’t really need a set of instructions to remove trash from your driveway, only the will and the energy to do it regularly. It also doesn’t take much to sweep down a paved driveway every few days. What might be tough, though, is getting rid of stains. Here’s the lowdown:
Concrete and Brick Driveways
Oil, Grease, or Antifreeze Stains
The most common stains are caused by oil or radiator fluid dripping from vehicles. Putting kitty litter on oil that’s fresh should soak up most of it. After a day or two, shovel it up and discard it. But if the oil has been on the driveway for a while, it’s probably going to ruin your day – or even several of your days. Here are some suggestions from the Michigan State University Extension Service. The suggestions apply to antifreeze and grease stains as well as oil stains:
- Apply liquid laundry detergent straight from the bottle, let it sit, then scrub it off with a stiff, wet broom. Rinse, let dry, and repeat.
- Spread dry dishwasher detergent on the stain after wetting it. Allow it to stand before pouring on boiling water, scrubbing, and rinsing.
- Substitute trisodium phosphate for dry dishwasher detergent, wet, scrub, rinse, repeat A variant is to dissolve 1 cup of TSP per gallon of hot water and pour it on. But don’t use this stuff on asphalt driveways.
- Try a commercial product available at auto supply and paint stores. Follow the directions.
- Scrub the concrete with a grease solvent like benzene. Have a fire extinguisher handy. This stuff ignites easily.
- Make a thick paste of 1 part sodium citrate, 6 parts water, 6 parts glycerine, and some whiting or fuller’s earth. Spread it on the stain and allow it to stand, adding new paste when it dries. After one week, flush it with water after brushing the dry paste away. Repeat.
- When none of these approaches has worked, put on your gloves and goggles and get out the muriatic acid. This is the last resort for cleaning any kind of stain on concrete or brick. Be sure to follow all precautions listed on the product label.
- Wet the area.
- Sprinkle on powdered oxalic acid (often referred to as wood bleach, it is available at hardware and paint stores).
- Spray on a light water mist.
- Allow to sit.
- Repeat until the stain is gone.
Removing Tire Marks
Spray on automotive brake cleaner until the marks disappear.
Mold, Mildew, Fungus, Dirt, & Bird Droppings
Rent a power washer to try to blast this stuff off or hire a contractor with a combination power scrubber and high pressure hose, used along with an application of mild chemicals.
Any petroleum derivatives (such as driveway cleaners and solvents) will dissolve into the asphalt, weakening or dissolving it. These substances include not only cleaners but also motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, gasoline, and household solvents. This is why asphalt driveways should be sealcoated yearly to protect against damage while maintaining a new-looking black appearance. (Sealing concrete driveways is also advisable; it protects against the ravages of weather and helps resist staining.)
So be careful to read the label of any commercial driveway cleaning product to ensure it contains no solvents. For oily stains, the best approach might be a biodegradable cleaner or plain dishwashing liquid. But if staining is heavy or extensive, the best recourse is to coat the driveway with a black asphalt sealer available at any hardware or home store. This is a coal-tar product that will easily mask any stains with a more attractive black finish.
Crushed Gravel or Crushed Stone Driveways
Crushed gravel driveways are commonly composed of sand, silt, clay, and larger aggregates; crushed stone driveways are more elegant. In either case, maintenance is low-cost; oil and grease stains can be “turned under” with a shovel. As these drives typically need the addition of new layers every few years, at that time, any and all stains are covered over. Anyway, most of these kinds of drives are found in rural areas where there is more concern for keeping an area wild and natural than competing for “cleanest driveway” honors.
Epoxy Pebble Finish
Epoxy pebble concrete overlays make concrete driveways more attractive and decorative. The epoxy seal keeps the gravel in place and also repel stains. Such surfaces should be cleaned as needed with a TSP solution, power washed at least once a year, and re-glazed every two to three years. TSP (trisodium phosphate) can be found at most major hardware stores.