How to Clean Up Oil Spills On Your Driveway and In Your Garage

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: itman__47 / Shutterstock.com

Cleaning up oil spills in your garage and on your driveway requires prompt action to prevent environmental damage and limit permanent damage to the driveway surface itself. The same process can be applied to spills and leaks that have lined your garage floor, and it’s important to jump on the task early. Let’s explore the steps to clean up an oil spill in your driveway or garage.

Photo Credit: The Toidi / Shutterstock.com

First Things First: Safety First

Put on protective gear such as gloves and safety goggles. Ventilate the area by opening windows or doors.


Contain the Spill

Act quickly to prevent the oil from penetrating the surface. Use absorbent materials like cat litter, sawdust, or absorbent pads to contain the spill. Baking soda, WD40, soda, and oven cleaner are also claimed to work. Place these materials around the edges of the spill to prevent it from spreading, and atop the spill area for direct absorption.


Absorb the Oil

Spread absorbent materials over the entire spill. This is the time to pay attention to how much a particular towel, pad, or the likes has absorbed; should a particular absorbing material reach its limit, you will benefit from changing them out for a new or dry piece so as to best allow for maximum absorption. Once things are in place and everything is going smoothly, let them sit for a while to soak up the oil.

Photo Credit: Karen Hermann / Shutterstock.com

Sweep and Scoop

Use a broom and dustpan to sweep up the soiled absorbent materials. Dispose of the contaminated materials according to your local regulations. Be careful to pay attention to this last part, as laws vary; regardless, be sure to dispose of the oil in an environmentally-friendly way.


Clean the Surface

Scrub the affected area with a mixture of dish soap and water. You can also buy products specific to this usage case which will make the process easier and faster. Use a stiff brush to scrub the surface thoroughly.


Rinse

Rinse the area with a hose or pressure washer. Collect and properly dispose of the rinse water, ensuring it doesn’t enter storm drains (this assures it doesn’t end up in the local water system).

Photo Credit: wisely / Shutterstock.com

Repeat if Necessary

Depending on the severity of the spill, you may need to repeat the cleaning process.


Environmental Note

Remember to check local regulations regarding the disposal of contaminated materials and wastewater to ensure compliance with environmental standards. If the oil spill is extensive, consider contacting a professional cleaning service or your local environmental agency for assistance.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and ATV.com, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast.

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