There’s a saying that goes: Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways? Though we aren’t answering that question here, we are concerned with parking on driveways. When you park on driveways, your vehicles leave behind stains of oil, grease, and mud, and perhaps even a few tire marks. These unsightly stains can ruin the appearance of the front of your home, making it look older and dirtier.
The best way to eliminate these unsightly stains is through the use of high pressure cleaning techniques. But, using high powered jets of water, especially in drought-afflicted states like California, is a waste of a precious resource. There are other ways to get your driveway looking brand new.
Driveways become a magnet for difficult stains because the porous concrete absorbs the oil, mud, and grime, making them difficult to remove. Though power washers provide a quick and reliable way to remove stains, there are ways to get your driveway clean without one.
How to Remove Driveway Stains Without Power Washing
Sprinkle a heavy layer of sawdust or kitty litter on the stains. Leave on for 12 to 24 hours in order to absorb as much of the stain as possible. You can then sweep it up and dispose of it.
Sprinkle powered dishwashing detergent on the entire driveway, or you can mix a bucket of dishwashing liquid and hot water. Let this sit and soak for an hour. You can then rinse with water (a lower pressure stream from the hose – not a power washer). Or, pour on a bucket of hot or boiling water, and then scrub and rinse. You’ll be using some water, but far less than you would if you used a power washer (you supply the power!).
Chemical removers can also be used, but it is important to remember that these chemicals can have a detrimental effect on your health and environment. Use them wisely and carefully. Commercial concrete degreasers consist of a concentrated alkaline soap that effectively loosens the oil from the concrete, making it easier to remove. However, sometimes these chemicals don’t work well on stains that have been sitting on the concrete for long periods of time.
Make a thick paste of 6 parts water, 1 part sodium citrate, and some whiting or fuller’s earth. Spread the mixture over the stains, adding new paste when it dries. Allow it to sit for a week, and then flush it with water and sweep the paste away.
To effectively remove stubborn stains from your driveway, you will probably need to use some water. But, eliminating the need for a power washer can save gallons of water, and every gallon saved is gallon earned for drought-ravaged states like California.