Brake fluid is an essential component of a vehicle’s braking system, but spills can occur during maintenance or accidents, leaving unsightly stains on your concrete surfaces. It’s essential to remove brake fluid stains as soon as possible to prevent them from penetrating deeply into the porous surface.
In this article, we’ll show you how to remove brake fluid from concrete easily.
- Safety precautions: Wear protective gear, work in a well-ventilated area, and dispose of waste properly.
- Gather necessary supplies: Absorbent materials, scrub brush or broom, water, dish soap, concrete cleaner, pressure washer (optional), and garden hose.
- Initial cleanup: Use an absorbent material to remove as much brake fluid as possible before applying cleaning agents.
- Absorbent application: Apply a soapy water solution to the stain and scrub vigorously before rinsing with a garden hose.
- Stubborn stain removal: Use a concrete cleaner specifically designed to remove oil-based stains if soapy water is insufficient.
- Pressure washing: If necessary, use a pressure washer to remove particularly stubborn stains, but be cautious to avoid damaging the concrete surface.
- Preventing future stains: Use a drip pan or absorbent mat during maintenance, inspect vehicles for leaks, and consider sealing concrete surfaces to prevent staining.
When working with brake fluid and cleaning chemicals, you must take safety measures to keep yourself and the environment safe. Remember these:
- Wear gloves, safety goggles, and long sleeves to protect your skin and eyes from exposure to brake fluid and cleaning agents.
- Use a well-ventilated area for the cleanup process, avoiding enclosed spaces.
- Dispose of used materials properly, following local regulations for hazardous waste disposal.
Gather Necessary Supplies
To clean brake fluid off concrete, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Absorbent materials (cat litter, sawdust, or baking soda)
- Scrub brush or broom
- Bucket of water
- Liquid dish soap
- Concrete cleaner (optional)
- Pressure washer (optional)
- Garden hose
Before using any cleaning agents, remove as much brake fluid as possible using an absorbent material.
- Sprinkle an absorbent material such as cat litter, sawdust, or baking soda over the brake fluid spill.
- Let the absorbent sit for 15-30 minutes to soak up the brake fluid.
- Sweep up the absorbent using a broom or brush, and dispose of it according to local regulations (also read: How To Dispose Of Brake Fluid: Doing It Right)
After removing the majority of the brake fluid, apply a cleaning solution to eliminate any remaining residue.
- Mix a generous amount of liquid dish soap with water in a bucket.
- Pour the soapy water onto the stained area, ensuring the entire surface is covered.
- Use a scrub brush or broom to scrub the stain vigorously, working the soapy water into the concrete surface.
- Rinse the area thoroughly with a garden hose, removing any remaining soap and brake fluid residue.
Stubborn Stain Removal
If the stain persists after applying soapy water, consider using a concrete cleaner specifically designed to remove oil-based stains.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the concrete cleaner to the affected area.
- Let the cleaner sit for the suggested time, generally 15-30 minutes.
- Scrub the stain using a brush or broom, working the cleaner into the concrete surface.
- Rinse the area thoroughly with a garden hose, ensuring all cleaner residue is removed.
Also read: Will Brake Cleaner Remove Oil?
For particularly stubborn brake fluid stains, a pressure washer can be an effective solution.
- Rent or purchase a pressure washer suitable for cleaning concrete surfaces. Make sure to choose the appropriate nozzle for the job.
- Put on safety goggles and protective clothing to shield yourself from any debris dislodged by the pressure washer.
- Start the pressure washer and aim it at the stained area, maintaining a safe distance to avoid damaging the concrete.
- Move the pressure washer in a consistent, sweeping motion across the stain, gradually removing the brake fluid residue.
- After the stain disappears, rinse the spot completely with a hose to remove any leftover residue.
*Note: Using a pressure washer can potentially damage concrete surfaces, especially if they are aged or already weakened. Exercise caution and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid any damage.
Preventing Future Stains
To minimize the risk of future brake fluid stains on your concrete surfaces, consider taking the following preventive measures:
- Place a drip pan or absorbent mat beneath your vehicle when performing brake fluid maintenance.
- Routinely inspect your vehicle for any brake fluid leaks and address them promptly.
- Seal your concrete surfaces with a high-quality concrete sealer to create a barrier against oil and fluid spills, making cleanup easier.
Eco-friendly Alternatives for Cleaning Brake Fluid Stains
For those who prefer environmentally friendly solutions, there are alternative methods to clean brake fluid off concrete surfaces. These eco-friendly options can work as well to get rid of stains while reducing harm to the environment.
- White vinegar: As a versatile and natural cleaning solution, white vinegar can effectively remove brake fluid stains. To use this method, combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, apply to the affected area, and let sit for 15-30 minutes. Then, use a stiff brush or broom to vigorously scrub the stain. Finally, rinse the area thoroughly with water to finish the process.
- Baking soda paste: Another environmentally friendly method for removing brake fluid stains is using baking soda. To make a simple paste, mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Apply it on the stain and leave for about 30 minutes. Then, scrub well with a brush or broom and rinse to remove any leftover paste.
- Biodegradable degreaser: Some manufacturers offer biodegradable degreasers specifically designed for cleaning oil and fluid stains. These degreasers break down hydrocarbon chains without harming the environment. To use, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, then scrub and rinse the area as needed.
- Cola: Surprisingly, cola (such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi) can also be used to remove oil stains from concrete surfaces. Pour cola over the stain, and let it sit for several hours or overnight. The phosphoric acid in the cola helps to break down the oil. Afterward, scrub the area with a brush or broom, then rinse with water.
In conclusion, cleaning brake fluid off concrete can be a straightforward process with the right tools and techniques. By addressing spills promptly and following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully remove brake fluid stains from your concrete surfaces and prevent future occurrences.