Oil stains and solvent odor in garage

7 Replies

I bought a house in Fort Collins, CO, with a three-car garage that the seller used to work on old cars. It has lot of oil stains on the garage floor and smells like solvents.

I tried a couple of cleaners with a pressure washer, and they had little effect. Do you have suggestions?

A neighbor suggested TSP, which sounds reasonable.

Eventually I might coat the floor with an epoxy paint, but that probably has to wait for warmer weather, and I need to make progress on the stains if I expect the paint to stick.


Kitty litter & TSP (2:1) with just enough water to turn it into a wet paste. Trowel a thick coat over the stain and allow it to sit for several hours (or even overnight ... you may have to mist it to keep your paste from totally drying out). When you remove your paste, scrub with a brush and rinse. May need to apply again.

This works better on removing oil and solvent stains from asphalt.  It will draw some of the the oil and solvents out of the concrete, but you may be left with a stain.  Though, after a couple of treatments, the floor should be in a condition where you could paint and seal it.

Updated almost 6 years ago

When you scrub after using the TSP & kitty litter to extract any penetrated solvents, you can use Dove dishwashing soap.

I find that a warm buck of water and some tide powder soap in the water and then on the wetted floor and scrub with a good stiff bristled brush.  May take several tries but it will get most of it.  You may be able to get a company to do the epoxy paint do the work and have them polish the floor before application.  I do have a company that does that but they are about $4/sf.  If you need anything more, feel free to contact me.

Get the big propane torch the one that attaches to a grill bottle . Run the torch over the oil spots.  MAKE SURE THE GARAGE IS EMPTY .  I have done this in the past then used  the fast orange hand  degreaser .   You wont get it all but it will get most of it 

I have used brake parts cleaner for smaller oil spills on concrete, both driveways (broom finish) and garages (smooth).  Spray it on the stain, let it work for a minute or so, and then wipe up with paper towels or a rag you don't care about.  It will have a strong solvent smell when you apply it, but that will mostly go away when you wipe it up.

It comes in a spray can, every car parts store has it, and Wal-Mart usually does too.  If you have a choice, get the chlorinated version; the non-chlorinated version doesn't work as well.  Either kind will straighten out your DNA if you drink it or smell too much of it, so don't spray it on your face. It costs about $3 or $4 a can, so it's not really practical to do a whole garage floor with it, but it's good for fixing the tough spots. Often the car-parts stores will run a special on two or three cans for a cheaper rate.

On the epoxy floor: I used to live in a house that had that in the garage.  It looks nice, but if you do spill something, you sort of have to chase it all over the floor with a rag to clean it up - it tends to spread out.  With bare concrete, you just have to get most of it with the rag, and then let the rest soak into the concrete.

watch out for the epoxy floor.  I think it still snows there.  If you walk on it with snow on your feet it gets slicker than butter and soon your feet will be higher than your head,,,dont ask how I know.  A high pressure washer, better if hot water one,,,and "Simple Green' might clean as well as you can get it.  It will get more drips over time,,,its a garage floor. Dont  make it slick in the process.  If your still dis satisfied talk to a concrete staining  or stamping company

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