Will a Pressure Washer Remove Oil From Asphalt?

Pressure washers have the capability of delivering serious power. They can strip paint off buildings, destroy weeds and even cut through wood. But will a pressure washer remove oil from an asphalt surface?

You might be surprised to learn that pressure washers can remove oil from asphalt. But pressure washing alone will not solve the problem. You will need to apply degreaser, scrub with a brush and use soap to fully remove the oil.

How to Remove Oil from Asphalt

Before beginning this project make sure you have all the tools ready. You will need degreaser, an asphalt brush, soap, and a pressure washer. It helps to set aside at least one hour for this task and don’t forget to check the weather first.

1. Clear the Area

Before you can remove any oil it’s important to clean the area of any debris. When working on a driveway for example, you will need to move cars in a garage or park them on the street. If you own a pressure washing business, make sure to tell the customer to move their cars before you get to the job.

Don’t forget to move any lawn equipment, outdoor furniture, or children’s toys. You don’t want any oil to get on these items during the removal process. If there are any shrubs or flowers near the oil make sure to over-water them before you start. This will prevent the plants from dying if any oil were to get on them.

2. Apply Degreaser

For the purpose of this article I will be talking about how to remove oil with a degreaser product. There are many different industrial and commercial products you can use to help solve this problem. Make sure to use a heavy duty degreaser made for asphalt and concrete. Kitchen degreasers will not be powerful enough for these surfaces.

Once you have the degreaser ready to go, generously spray down each oil spot. For fresh oil stains use a rag to soak up as much liquid as possible first. This will help absorb the oil and make the cleaning process much easier. Once you have sprayed all of the oil stains wait 3-5 minutes for the degreaser to settle.

3. Use a Brush

You can scrub the asphalt with a brush after the degreaser has been soaking for a few minutes. This is one of the most important stages, because the bristles will help agitate the oil. This works best on old oil stains that have been sitting in the concrete for a long time. The longer you wait to clean oil, the harder it will be to remove.

You’ll need to use a dedicated asphalt brush to agitate the oil. This tool will be strong enough so the bristles won’t bend when scrubbing. You can either get a handheld brush, or a piece that attaches to the end of a broom stick. I find it much easier to generate power with the handheld option, even though it’s harder on your back.

4. Use Soap

You can then apply soap to the asphalt, or add it in your tank if your pressure washer has one. Dawn dish washing soap is one of the most common detergents used to remove oil stains and it might be something you have lying around the house. You can dilute it in a bucket of water first, or apply it directly to the oil stain.

If you’re going the power washer method make sure to use a dedicated power washing soap. Not all detergents have the same ingredients and some types can actually clog your pressure washer. The last thing you need is to create a new problem when trying to fix one. Let the soap soak for a few minutes, before scrubbing and rinsing away.

5. Power Wash

Before turning the pressure washer on, you will need to bleed the hose of any air. Simply hold down the trigger and to let any water out. It should act just like a regular garden hose and you will hear popping noises from the all of the air that has been sitting inside the hose. This process usually takes around 20-30 seconds.

Work the spray wand back-and-forth while overlapping each section. Start with a 15-degree nozzle to see if that removes any of the remaining oil. You need to find a balance between using a tight nozzle, but not something too aggressive. A 0-degree tip could cause permanent damage and create marks in the asphalt.

Household Products you can use:

If you don’t want to use any chemicals to remove oil from an asphalt surface, there are other options to choose from. Most of these products might even be in your house already. You can always try these first if the stain is small.

Coca-Cola – This might be the most popular way to remove an oil stain on your driveway. Pour at least one can of room temperature Coca-Cola on the strain and let it sit overnight. In the morning wipe any remaining soda away and hose down the area. You might need to use more than one can when dealing with older stains.

Baking soda – This product works best on fresh oil, but you can always give it a try. Apply a thick layer of baking soda to the stain. The powder should eventually turn into a thick paste. Wait around one hour for the baking soda to fully absorb the liquid. When you’re done simply use a garden hose or pressure washer to rinse down the area.

Vinegar – This method also works best on fresh oil stains. You will want to lay down sawdust and leave it overnight to soak up as much oil as possible. Remove the sawdust in the morning and rinse the area. Apply vinegar and scrub with a brush to remove the oil stain. Continue this process until the oil is completely removed and rinse the area when finished.


I hope that this article has helped you successfully remove oil from your asphalt driveway. Oil can be tough to remove, especially when it’s been sitting on a surface for a long period of time. The good news is there are various ways you can treat the stain before removing it.

Just remember to soak the stain with degreaser, before using a dedicated asphalt brush. This extra step will help remove stubborn oil that has become embedded in the surface. And don’t forget to fix that oil leak on your vehicle, so you can avoid this problem in the future.

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