Oil is possibly the most annoying thing to clean. Maybe, if it’s the translucent cooking oil we are talking about, then the pain is not that severe. However, if we are talking about oil, dirty motor oil, then be ready for persistent stains on your garage floor. Is there anything we can do about it? Fortunately, god is yet to abandon us – there are ways to remove motor oils and make your floor as clean as new!
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1. Absorbing the Oil
The longer the oil stays on the spot, the darker the stain will be. So, try to absorb the oil spill as soon as you found it. The fastest way available would be absorbing them using paper towels and rags. However, depending on the quantity of the spill, you may need a lot of paper towels. Also, if you plan to reuse the rags, then you would better off giving up because oil stains are even harder to wash from clothes.
Is there any other alternative, then? Of course! Anything with quick-absorbing ability can be used instead. Things like sand, cement, sawdust, or cat litter can totally do the job. Wheat flour or any other starch can be used as well, but it will get costly with bigger spills.
To use them, just sprinkle until the matter covered the oil spill thoroughly, wait for a moment (an hour should suffice) until the oils are all absorbed, then remove using a broom and dustpan. The oil on the surface should be absorbed right off.
If you are using cat litter, you can leave it to absorb the oil for a longer period. Cat litter is the most effective matter in this case. In fact, it can even remove the stain! If your spill is big and concentrated, make sure to crush the cat litter as finely as possible, cover the oil with it thoroughly, and leave it for a full 24 hours before cleaning it away.
2. Cleaning the Stain
What if there’s stain? If you don’t absorb the oil right after it spilled, then the oil more than likely to develop a persistent stain. Don’t worry, though. You can clean them with strong hands and some help from a few chemicals. Here are the methods for the lightest to the darkest stain:
Hot Water and Dish Soap
This is the oldest trick in the book. If you have something dirty, wash it in hot water and soap vigorously until all impurities are lifted. In the case of oil stain, it’s best to leave the solution on top of the stain for an hour or two first.
After that, scrub it with a stiff floor brush to remove the stain as much as possible. Rinse and repeat if necessary. Though we call for dish soap, any soap should do the job. If you want a stronger solution, concentrated detergent should be the best choice.
Rubbing Alcohol, Brake Cleaner, or Paint Thinner
Is the old trick ineffective? Then, try using a stronger solution. Rubbing alcohol is another all-purpose cleaner that you can use. If not, try using brake cleaner or paint thinner. The steps are the same with hot water and soap – leave it on for a while, rub vigorously, and then repeat.
However, instead of a stiff brush, try using a rag or paper towel to both applying and rubbing the matter as they hold the liquids better.
Degreaser is indeed designed for oil stains. However, since it contains strong chemicals, don’t forget to provide good ventilation and wear eye protection. After meeting the requirement, use the degreaser according to the instruction of the package. Usually, you will have to wait until it dries into powder form after a few hours then scrape it to clean.
Now we are getting straight to chemical town. TSP aka trisodium phosphate is also effective for oil stains. However, make sure that you use the phosphate-free ones (it usually labeled as TSP-PF). Don’t forget eye protection and rubber gloves as well.
To apply TSP, mix it to a gallon of hot water thoroughly. Then, pour the mixture onto the stain and let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. After it is soaked completely, brush the stain with a stiff brush and rinse with water. Repeat if necessary.
Microbial Oil Stain Remover
What if your stain is old and too persistent to remove with the methods above? Then, consider purchasing microbial oil stain remover. This product uses micro-organisms that are actually capable to eat grease and oil.
So, instead of forcibly removing the stain from the floor, it will dissolve the oil to nothingness. To use this product, apply with a pump sprayer and let it do its job. Depending on the persistence of the stain, it may need 24 hours.
After the period, clean the area with soap and water then rinse. If nothing works, this remover should work the magic if given enough time. FYI, this product is also biodegradable, which means it is safer for the environment compared to the other methods!
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3. How to Prevent Oil Stain
To begin with, oil stains is an annoying existence. So, rather than trying to clean it, avoiding it altogether would be a better choice. But how do we do it? Simple, put an unused container under places that possibly spill oil. This method should be effective especially when you know your vehicle has oil issues. If you are doing maintenance, do the same.
However, if a container makes it difficult for you to move around, try spreading rags or nylon sheets instead. They should prevent the oil from touching the floor at all, so the stain can be avoided altogether.
So, how do we effectively remove motor oil from the garage floor? First of all, absorption is essential – the faster you remove the oil, the less stain there will possibly be. However, if there are stains after all, then we can clean it using hot water and soap, rubbing alcohol, degreaser, paint thinner, TSP, or even a microbial oil stain cleaner. Depending on the method you choose, it should take one to several tries until the stain is erased for good.