My van used to leak power steering fluid in my drive way. At first, I would put something under it to catch it. Then I started putting some kitty litter down so it could absorb it. After a while I just let it go and a nice stain formed.
When the leak first happened, it was easy to absorb the oil. But after letting it sit for a long time, the oil dried and didn't come out so easily.
There are ways to remove old oil stains from your pavers. The reason it is so easy to get it out when it is fresh is because it is still very liquid. I use the term “very liquid” because most oil you use around your pavers will not completely dry out. If you are using linseed oil or some other type of drying oil, then that is a different story.
Why is it harder to remove an old stain
When oil sits on your pavers for an extended period of time, the oil begins to dry. This drying process happens because the oil reacts with oxygen through a process called oxidation. The oxidation process breaks the oil down . This causes you to end up with a sticky sludge like substance on your pavers.
If you put an absorbent material on top of the old oil, it doesn't do much because the oil is caked on the pavers.
It is possible to absorb the oil out of the ground, but first you have to get the oil of of the surface.
When your pavers are sinking, you could have a more complicated problem. Sinking pavers create an uneven surface. This gives oil a place to pool. It also creates unwanted crevices where oil can get trapped. The techniques listed here will help, but you may need to level your pavers to get some of the oil out. If your pavers aren't sinking, you should take steps to keep your pavers from sinking.
How to remove old oil from the surface of your pavers
There are several methods you can use to remove old oil that is gunked up on the surface of your pavers. Which ever method you choose, try it in a small, hidden place on your pavers before applying it to a large area.
Soap and water
Soap and water is one of the best solutions you can use for breaking up old oil on your pavers. A good method that I find works well is to poor dish soap directly on to the oil. Then add a little bit of water. Work the water into the soap and into the oil. This will help to break the oil up and bind it to the soap.
Once the oil is mixed in with the soap well, add more water and scrub. This should break up most of the oil. Spray the stained area with water from a nozzle. Continue to scrub as you spray. Repeat the steps if there is still some oil left your pavers.
There are many different chemical degreasers. Krud Kutter is a good product for getting the old oil off of your pavers. I have used Krud Kutter in the past to get old glue and oil off of walls and cabinets. They even make a product called Krud Kutter Oil Grabber that absorbs oil embedded oil. I haven't used it, but it could be worth a shot.
Remember that degreasers are made from chemicals so be careful when using them.
Bleach and other household chemicals
Bleach and other household chemicals are not designed to break down oil. They will not be your best solution for getting the old oil off of your pavers.
There are some oxygen bleach products like Oxiclean that may work. If you decide to try one of these products, read the manufactures label very carefully to find out how to use it properly.
A good natural way to remove oil from your brick pavers is vinegar. Vinegar acts as a degreaser when applied to oil stains. You should dilute the vinegar in water before applying it to your pavers. Also, test it on a sample area to make sure it does discolor your pavers or damage them in any way.
In many cases, a pressure washer will be able to move the old oil off of the surface of your pavers. If you decide to use a pressure washer, it is a good idea to mix some soap into the oil before spraying it down.
The soap is a surfactant. It acts as a binder between the oil and water. This will allow you to control the removal of the oil with you water. If you don't bind the oil to the water with soap, the oil will likely bead up and stick in different location as you try to remove it.
Be mindful of which tip you are using on your pressure washer. A tip that makes the pressure very focused could damage your pavers. You should use one of the other methods list to clean your pavers without a pressure washer if you are worried about damaging them.
Getting the old oil out of your pavers
Once you have removed the old oil from the surface of your pavers, you can work on getting the old oil that is embedded in your pavers out.
There are three methods you can use to get the old oil out. Apply an absorbent material to the surface. Use steam to force the oil out. Heat the oil to burn it off.
The most common way to get the old oil stain out of your pavers is to absorb it with a granular material. Most people use kitty litter, baking soda, sawdust, or sand. I have found kitty litter to work good for lifting stain out.
To use kitty litter, or any absorbent, put a generous amount on top of the stain. Then cover it so it doesn't absorb moister from the air. Leave it for a few days and then check it. If it is completely saturated, sweep it up and apply more. If only part of it has oil, then you may be done. Sweep it up and observe the spot for the next few days.
There are special cleaning machines that super heat water and send it into the pores of your pavers. I have not found a place to buy these machines for the layman. You will probably have to hire a professional company if you want to use steam to remove the old oil stain from your pavers
Burn the oil out
Another method that may work is to burn the oil out of your pavers. Basically, you head the pavers up with a torch and the old oil burns off.
I have not tried this method. Oil is combustible, so be very careful if you heat it. If there is a lot of oil, you probably shouldn't heat it because it could start a fire.
Also, this method may damage your pavers because you are applying heat to your pavers.
Protecting your pavers
One thing that may help is to seal your pavers. Sealing your pavers can prevent stains, including oil stains. To get the best results you need to apply a sealer that is made for your type of pavers. Read the instructions on any sealer before you apply it. Also, test it on a small spot and in a hidden area of your pavers before putting it on all of your pavers.
Old oil stains can be a nuisance. Don't let them intimidate you. You can get old oil stains out if you follow a few proven steps.