How to Use Paint Thinner to Remove Oil Stains

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If you park your car, lawnmower or other engine-driven tool on your driveway or in your garage, it is inevitable that oil stains will penetrate the concrete or cement. Removing these stains is not as simple as rubbing with soapy water, as the oil doesn’t just sit on top, but rather seeps into the cement. You need a strong solvent cleaner to remove the oil stains, and paint thinner can work on the oil much the same way it works on painted walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Paint thinner
  • Absorbent material

Sweep the area to remove surface dirt and dust, allowing the paint thinner uninterrupted access to the oil stain.

Soak the oil stain, as well as a few inches around the stain in all directions, with paint thinner. The thinner will penetrate the concrete and break the bond of the oil stain, helping to loosen the oil.

Cover the entire area with an absorbent material such as kitty litter, cornstarch, talc or dry cement. These materials will absorb the oil as the thinner loosens it. Allow the material to sit on the surface overnight.

Vacuum or sweep away the surface-absorbent material and inspect the stained area. Apply more thinner and absorbent material as necessary until the stain is completely gone.

Tips & Warnings

  • If necessary, replace paint thinner with mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Paint thinner and other solvents are highly flammable and produce strong fumes. Use in a well-ventilated area away from strong heat.

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