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Concrete Cleaning Home
Choosing a Concrete Cleaner or Degreaser
How to Clean Exterior Concrete
Coming Clean with Chemicals and Power Washing
Equipment Options for Cleaning Concrete
Cleaning and Sealing Exterior Concrete: A Guide to Maintaining and Caring for Exterior Decorative Concrete of all Types
Tips for Maintaining Exterior Concrete
How to Clean Concrete Floors
Caring for Concrete Floors: General Cleaning Tips
Cleaning Concrete Floors Before Staining: Tips from the Pros
How to Clean Concrete Countertops
How to Remove Stubborn Stains and Discoloration
Advice on Cleaning Concrete Countertops, from Concrete-Countertops.org
Question:

Do you know of something that will get oil stains out of concrete? A lot of concrete out there is neglected and would look a lot nicer if we could remove these stains.

Answer:

There are multiple chemical methods for removing oil or grease (both hydrocarbon-based materials) from concrete. Small spills or spots can sometimes be removed with nothing more then a strong detergent, a scrub brush, and a sponge. A more aggressive method is to use a commercial concrete cleaner or degreaser, a concentrated alkaline soap that's scrubbed into the concrete surface. The soap acts like ball bearings, loosening up the oil to permit easier removal. The downside is that typical degreasers don't actually break down the oil, so they won't work well on concrete that is heavily contaminated or has been contaminated for a long time. Also, they are more effective on porous concrete as opposed to concrete with a hard or dense finish.

Another common treatment for removing oil stains from concrete is a poultice. Used primarily on small, stubborn stains, a poultice is made by saturating an absorptive material (such as kitty litter, pool filter media, or sawdust) with a strong solvent (acetone, xylene, lacquer thinner, or MEK) and then smearing the material over the stain. Cover the poultice with plastic, and let the process of osmosis take over. The solvent will break down the oil, and the absorptive material will suck it out of the concrete. However, this process takes time and may not be cost-effective or practical for removing large stains. See how a poultice can be used to remove oil from a concrete countertop.

The most recent advancement in the removal of oil stains from concrete involves using special single-celled microorganisms that thrive on crude oil and its derivatives, eating them up like candy. Enzymes and oxygen digest the oil and turn it into carbon dioxide and more microorganisms. When the food source (oil) is gone, the microorganisms die, leaving the concrete clean and oil-free. This is the same technology used to clean beaches and waterways after large oil spills. Two sources for these microbial cleaners are ESI (www.esiclean.com) and KT Microbial Products (www.ktmicrobialproducts.com).

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