Preventing Common Garage Stains

by April Reinhardt
(last updated March 18, 2009)

My husband and I made arrangements to look at a house for sale this past weekend. Having been built only two years ago, and with only one prior owner, the house was relatively clean. The three-car garage was impressive, but I was irritated to see that the floor was stained with automotive oil. Had the one and only tenant of the home taken a few precautions, he could have prevented staining the brand-new floor, and saved the new occupant some time and money in cleaning it.

The most common garage stain is automotive oil—that is, oil that drips from a car's engine onto the floor below. Yet there are other stains one can often find in a garage such as rust, mud, paint, forgotten food residue, sidewalk chalk, and wood stain. Even wasp nests and bird feces can stain a garage floor and walls. Here is a list of common garage stains, how to prevent them, and how to clean them if you've already got them:

  • Oil. If you've a car that leaks oil, the obvious solution is to have the leak fixed. If you're short on money, simply place a flattened cardboard box under the car to absorb the oil, or use a shallow pan or bowl to catch the dripping oil. If you've already an oil stain on your garage floor, clean it with a stiff nylon brush and soap and water. Never use a wire brush on concrete as it will simply etch the surface, allowing the oil to further delve into the concrete. If soap and water won't entirely remove the stain, consider using a solution of muratic acid and water in a 1:10 ratio to lift the stain.
  • Rust. Don't you hate it when your teenaged son decides to spray paint his skateboard, leaving the forgotten paint can dripping with red paint all over your garage floor? Not only that, the bottom of the wet can leaves behind a rust stain once you pry it from the floor three months later. To remove the paint, chip it with a putty knife and then attack the rust stain with sandpaper until it's gone. Better yet, have him do it.
  • Sidewalk chalk. I found out the hard way that sidewalk chalk can stain concrete. Thinking that I could simply wash the chalk away was naďve. Instead, use a stiff nylon brush with soap and water to scrub the chalk, dry with an old bath towel, and then instruct your toddler to use the driveway for his chalk drawings, instead of the garage floor.

For really stubborn stains, use a sander to try to sand them away. If that action doesn't completely remove the stain, use mineral spirits or kerosene in a well-ventilated area. Darker stains react well to an application of bleach or oxalic acid since those chemicals will lighten the stain.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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