How to Clean Up Fuel Oil Spills From the Basement Floor

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Oil furnace
Oil furnace (Image: poêle à charbon image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Spilled fuel oil can be a challenge to clean off a basement floor. The oil can seep into the concrete and be difficult to remove. Luckily there is a simple solution: cat litter. Designed to absorb both liquids and odors, cat litter is very useful for removing oil spills. It is a good idea to keep some around the house.

Things You'll Need

  • Cat litter
  • Dustpan
  • Broom
  • Trash bags
  • Detergent-based soap
  • Mop
  • Rags

Spread cat litter on the spill. Use the dustpan to spread an even layer 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick over the whole area. Be sure to completely cover all spilled oil and any splatters. For large spills, a coarse litter will absorb faster, while a fine grain litter will work well for small spills and removing oil that has soaked into the concrete.

Let the cat litter absorb the oil. For a fresh spill it will only take a few minutes to absorb most of the oil. An older spill may require it to sit for several hours or overnight. If some spots become completely saturated, add a little more cat litter on top to help absorb the rest of the oil.

Clean up. Scoop the litter into trash bags using a dustpan or shovel. Sweep the area to remove any excess litter. Tie the trash bags tightly and dispose of them according to local regulations.

Repeat if necessary. If there is still oil remaining after cleaning up, repeat the process until you are satisfied with the results. Try using a finer cat litter on subsequent attempts as this will provide more surface area for absorption. Also letting it sit longer may help with stubborn stains.

Clean with soap and hot water. Scrub with a mop or rags to remove the last remnants of the fuel oil. Use a detergent-based soap, such as Dawn or most other dish liquids. The detergent in the soap will break down the oil and allow it to be removed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Open windows, if possible, for ventilation.
  • Respond immediately to spills; the longer you wait the more difficult it will be to clean up.
  • Porous material such as wood or carpets will need to be removed.
  • Keep all sources of flame away from the spill.
  • For larger spills (more than a gallon) contact your fuel distributor or a cleanup company.
  • Always dispose of spilled oil according to local regulations.
  • Wear protective clothing and gloves while handling the oil as it could be corrosive.

References

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