A guide to using vinegar to remove oil stains from brick pavers

When you dreamed about what your home would look like, you may or may not have imagined your backyard with beautiful brick pavers. Maybe you put them there or you inherited them from the previous owners. Either way, it is time to get them clean.

The good news is, you don’t have to go far to find a solution because it’s right in your kitchen—vinegar.

Brick pavers are durable, but are subjected to a lot of different elements. Oil is one of the biggest culprits. Whether it's from drip spilling when you're barbecuing or a car motor leaking, oil can be a major cause of stains on brick pavers.

What should you keep in mind when removing stains on pavers?

Before we focus on using vinegar to remove oil stains on your brick pavers, it’s very important to take note of some general guidelines first:

  • If you have a contractor, ask for some advice on how to deal with stains and other issues on your brick pavers. They know their product well so they also have the best guidelines for cleaning and removing stains from them.
  • Always test out any product that you’re going to use for cleaning or removing stains on an inconspicuous area on your pavers.
  • Dilute solutions and rinse the area with water to get rid of any chemicals and products that could cause damage to your plants.
  • Use personal protective gear when removing stains on your brick paver to avoid accidents.

How does vinegar remove oil stains?

Most contractors will recommend a degreaser to get rid of oil stains on your brick pavers fast. But if you don’t have the budget for it or you want something that is all natural, vinegar is a good home remedy that effectively removes oil stains.

Vinegar acts as a natural degreaser with its astringent properties. It easily breaks down oil stains from bricks, concrete, and other hard surfaces.

Will vinegar cause damage to your brick pavers?

You’ve probably heard some people saying that vinegar caused damage to their pavers, and it can if you’re using the wrong type and in high concentrations.

Most experts recommend using white vinegar because it’s less acidic and safe for use in removing oil and rust stains. Darker vinegar like red wine or balsamic could cause more stains on your pavers instead of removing the existing stains.

It’s also essential to dilute vinegar with water to make sure that its acidity is tamed down. If you’re going to use vinegar to remove oil stains, test it out on a hidden area on your brick paver first to see if it has any reaction to the brick. If there is a problem in the test area, you can make adjustments to the solution before applying it on the stain itself.

What are the steps to removing oil stains from brick pavers with vinegar?

If you want to use vinegar to remove oil stains on your brick pavers, follow these steps carefully to get the best results:

  • Choose white vinegar since it is non-toxic, eco-friendly and safe for your family, plants, and pets. Some white vinegar products are distilled from petroleum; so if you don’t want that, choose white vinegar that’s made from grain.
  • Dilute white vinegar with a little water and put it in a spray bottle so you can apply the solution evenly. Spray enough white vinegar to soak the stain thoroughly.
  • Leave the solution on the brick paver for one hour and make sure to cordon off the affected area to keep people from walking on it.
  • After an hour, spray the affected area with a dish soap and water solution. Scrub it with a soft bristle brush to get rid of any remaining stain or dirt. Never use a hard brush to avoid damaging the brick pavers. Rinse the area thoroughly to get rid of any vinegar and soap residue.

Can vinegar alone remove oil stains from brick pavers?

While vinegar is an effective method for removing oil stains from brick pavers, you can also try other ways to get rid of those stubborn stains without spending a lot. Here are some options:

Rags or paper towels

If you see oil dripping on your brick pavers and the liquid is still sitting on the surface, grab rags or paper towels right away. Soak up as much of the oil in them before the oil is absorbed into the bricks. Then, you can rinse the affected area with soap and water to remove the oil completely.

Cat litter

If you have cat litter at home, you can use it to soak up the oil to keep it from staining your brick pavers. Spread the litter across the affected area and leave it for a while. Once the oil is fully absorbed, remove the cat litter by sweeping it off and disposing of it safely. Then, you can rinse the area with soap and water.

High-pressure water

A pressure washer is your best option for cleaning grease off of your brick pavers and effectively removing any dirt or stain on them. But you can also use a garden hose with a nozzle and set it on high-pressure.

Dish soap and water

If you’re dealing with a new stain, you can dilute some dish soap with water. You can also use laundry detergent. Apply the solution to the oil stain. Leave it for approximately 30 minutes. After that, you can scrub the area using a stiff bristle brush. After scrubbing, rinse it with warm water. Do these steps over and over until you remove all the stain completely.

Why do brick pavers stain?

Brick pavers are made by molding clay or other concrete. Both types of brick pavers are porous. Porous materials absorb liquid like oil.

Oil seeps into the pores of the pavers and becomes trapped. The depth of the stain depends on how much oil is spilled. Even if oil is only sitting on the surface of the pavers for a short time, the pavers can become stained.

How to prevent brick pavers from becoming stained with oil?

The best way to prevent your brick pavers from becoming stained with oil is to seal them. There are many different sealers on the market. They come in water-based, polyurethane-base, and acrylic-based.

Before sealing your pavers you should clean them well. Make sure all stains are removed. Sealing them without removing the stains first will make it impossible to get the stain out.

Also, you should sand the joints between your brick pavers before sealing them. If the joints are already sanded, you should repair and damage joints and re-sand.

Inspect your pavers when cleaning

While you are cleaning your pavers, you should take some time to inspect your pavers for damage. If your pavers are damaged, repair them or replace them. Sinking pavers need to have the base relaid to strengthen it and bring it level with your other pavers. You should have proper drainage and support to prevent your pavers from sinking.


Oil stains can be such a hassle to deal with, especially because they become visible on your brick pavers.

The best way to deal with them effectively is to make sure that you address the stains as soon as you notice them. This will give you a better chance at removing the stain without spending a lot.