Removing Rust Stains from Driveways

by Lecia DeBrine
(last updated May 8, 2009)

A clean driveway can be a great asset to the curb appeal of any house. From oil stains to cracking we try to prevent as much from happening to it as we can, unfortunately rust spots often slip by and deface the entire slab. These can be caused by some fertilizers, metal particles from your car, if you have a concrete driveway there may be rebar in it which can also create rust spots. Depending on what your driveway is made of here are a few suggestions for getting rid of the orange stains.

Concrete slabs or pavers can both be cleaned the same way, you may want to start with the more gentle methods and work your way up to the nasty stuff.

  1. Lemon juice directly on the stain, with a little scrubbing and some sunshine can help to lighten the area. This is a mild solution and will work best on fresh stains in very sunny areas. Squeeze the juice from a lemon, as much as needed to cover the spot, then with a stiff wire brush scrub for a few minutes to ensure the juice is penetrating the stain. Let is sit in the sun for natural bleaching. Rinse the spot with a hose once the sun is no longer touching the area. Repeat this as many times as needed to return the stain to the right color.
  2. Commercial rust removers can be found almost anywhere. You can try the spray kind, like CLR, applied directly to the stain and left to sit overnight before sensing thoroughly. This can work to remove larger or darker stains. There are also rust removers made for use on concrete, like Concrete Rust Remover. Read and follow the instructions carefully when using these types of products to get the best result.
  3. Muratic acid and other acidic cleaners should be a last result after exhausting your other options. Because you are handling an acid you need to make sure you are protecting yourself from any injury, gloves, goggles, and at least a mask if not a respirator should be worn when you apply to and rinse this from your driveway. Cover the affected area with the muratic acid being careful not to get any on unstained surface, let the acid work for a short time then rinse it off with a hose or a pressure washer. This will lighten any area it is applied to so if you leave it on too long you will have a light spot on your driveway in place of the rust stain. You can use it on your entire driveway to avoid this problem.

Asphalt driveways can get rust stains as well and will benefit from a few of the same methods as concrete.

  1. Rust removers can be used on asphalt as well in the same manner as the concrete, but be prepared to repeat the process a few times to get the stain to lift.
  2. Acids will make a mess of asphalt so you want to stay away from them as a stain lifter. You can use a little amount of gasoline to soften the stained area and then work it out using a wire brush. Be careful that you do not over brush and create a divot in your driveway. The asphalt will harden as it dries so let it sit for a long while without disturbing it.
  3. Resealing the area or the entire driveway with an asphalt sealer, you can pick these up at hardware stores, will hide any stains and fill in any cracks. Just roll on the sealer with a roller and let it set as directed by the instructions. If you want to fill in cracks while you are doing this refer to the instructions for the product, there will usually be information on how to do that.

Be careful when using any of these methods that you do not harm you plants or lawn by applying the products to them. Getting rid of stains on your driveway can make a big difference in how the outside of your house looks. Give these a try and it can give your old home a "facelift" or restore the clean look of a new house.

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