Asphalt Stain Removal
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How To Remove Stains From Asphalt Driveways and Parking Lots

Pinellas County, from Largo, FL and state-wide is an extremely hot climate with more and more people turning to asphalt in an attempt to keep costs down and utilize an alternative to concrete that when taken care of properly, withstands the test of time and heat which other materials fall victim to.

Addressing a few questions asked by clients and friends; “How can I get this stain out of my driveway?” and “Someone parked in front of our store and now one of our primary parking lot spots is riddled with oil stains, what can we do?!”. In this article, we will answer these questions.

Firstly, when it comes to removing tough stains from your asphalt driveways, parking lots and sidewalks, we strongly recommend you consult with a professional asphalt company. If you’re located in Pinellas County, feel free to contact us and the outcome may be as simple as sending us a quick photo via text so we may give you the right advice. Otherwise, if you are outside of our area, google “(your local area) + asphalt company” and be sure to check the reviews. Give them a call but be weary of the overly aggressive contractor who may attempt to resurface your whole parking lot instead of simply giving you the knowledge to remove the stain.

The best way to remove an asphalt stain?

Prevent it from ever happening! Sure, this would take the help of a time machine but at least for the stains that have yet to accrue, here are some helpful tips:

  • Do not allow leaves, dirt and debris to sit on your asphalt. Believe it or not, leaves and mulch can produce discoloration in asphalt once wet much like what can be found on certain types of roofing.
  • Dirt can catch and continually saturate and stain the asphalt when any spill occurs making the need to remove excess dirt from the asphalt paramount to keeping your asphalt looking new.
  • Remove stains right away! If an oil, paint or any type of stain is found, be sure to tackle it as soon as possible as the long it sits on the asphalt surface the harder it becomes to remove.

Common types of asphalt stains:

  • The most commonly found stain on asphalt relates directly to the asphalt’s purpose; parking cars. Cars leak everything from dirty rainwater to gas and the number one asphalt eye sore: Oil!
  • Tire tread marks are also a very common issue although more common in parking lots where the occasional young rebel will arrive in the wee hours of the night to leave his ego tracks all over your well-kept asphalt surface. Other times individuals simply stop too fast, accidentally drop a gear or avoid a fender bender leaving small tire tread marks which can be seen across the lot in some instances.
  • Food & drink: If you operate a restaurant or bar, you certainly have had to deal with these stains in one fashion or another. From someone dropping there cola to the inebriated guy who should have left the bar hours prior but instead left his dinner and 10 beers all over your lot, human interaction with asphalt isn’t always pretty.
  • Mulch and lawn debris such as leaves and even cut grass can discolor asphalt and leave brownish stains which in some instances are the easiest to remove eye sores that may accrue on asphalt surfaces. Colored mulch is one of the top culprits for pavement stains as the color easily leaks off the mulch onto the surface of your asphalt the second it gets wet or even damp.

*Disclaimer: Use the following cleaning methods at your own risk. Even if these steps are followed exactly as laid out it is possible you can make the area worse depending on the overall condition of the asphalt surface. We suggest you consult a professional however we understand the need to cut the cost every so often and since this isn’t heart surgery at least you can’t seriously injure someone if you really botch the job. Plus, who doesn’t love a good DIY project to kill some time on the weekend when the wife is having a bad day? You should get her flowers when you’re done though!

How to remove asphalt stains:

Phase 1 should be done regardless of the stain type. Phases 2 and 3 will cover most basic stains.
For oil stains, complete phase 1 and then jump to the Oil stain removal section.


Clear debris and rinse asphalt

Phase one for any asphalt stain removal project is the clearing of debris and cleaning of the surface. Use a regular garden hose as the usage of a power washer can force the stain deeper into the asphalt making it even harder to remove than it already was. If a pressure washer is the only option, such as the stain is in the back of a parking lot where a garden hose won’t reach, set your pressure washer to low setting (if possible) and use a wide nozzle. Then stand at least 10 feet away and spray the area at an angle.


Lease abrasive stain-removing methods

Phase two focuses on the utilization of the least harsh chemicals to minimize discoloration and damage potential. Sure, it is possible this step will be a waste of your time in the event these simple cleaning solutions don’t work but we can attest it is worth giving it a shot.

This technique will likely remove food and beverage stains along with tire tread marks.

Use a simple cleaning solution such as vinegar, dawn dish soap (or any simple soap) or even laundry detergent and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. Rinse, re-apply, and repeat.

*Powdered laundry detergent is one of our favorite products to use on simple stains.  

Bonus tip: Cola for stain removal

Hear the rumor that Cola can get stains out of pavement? Well, as it turns out there is some truth to it. The acidic ingredients found in most Cola’s can actually cut certain stains however, these same acids can also leave discoloration on the asphalt so use this method at your own risk. Pour enough Cola onto the stain to cover it around sunset and rinse it off the next day. You might just be surprised by what it can do.


Tougher stains

Phase three goes a bit higher on the “oops” scale for stains such as those left behind by colored mulchdeeper tire tread marks, algae & mold.
*Use this method at your own risk. Some asphalt surfaces are more prone to discoloration from this method than others.

The Bleach It Method:

Mix just a few tablespoons of bleach with warm water and again use a stiff brush to scrub the solution deep into the surface of the pavement.

Next, pour enough of the bleach solution onto the surface to completely cover it and allow it roughly forty minutes to soak into the surface and penetrate the stain.

When the time is up, rinse away the bleach solution with low pressure. 

*If the runoff is going into grass, be sure to also excessively soak the grass area to prevent the grass from being affected by the harsh chemical. We recommend you start the rinsing process with first soaking the nearby grass prior to rinsing the bleached stain.

Asphalt surface oil stain removal

As these stains are much more difficult to remove we have categorized them separately. These methods are also much for potentially detrimental to the surface of the asphalt.

*Disclaimer: Use the following cleaning methods at your own risk. Even if these steps are followed exactly as laid out it is possible you can make the area worse depending on the overall condition of the asphalt surface. We suggest you consult a professional however we understand the need to cut the cost every so often and since this isn’t heart surgery at least you can’t seriously injure someone if your really botch the job. Plus, who doesn’t love a good DIY project to kill some time on the weekend when the wife is having a bad day. You should get her flowers when your done though!

Before performing any of the following methods, be sure to first complete PHASE 1 above.
  • The Baking Soda method after completing phase one above, allow the surface to dry. Sprinkle the baking soda over the stained area generously and scrub in with a tough bristle brush. Allow to site for 30 minutes and then rinse off. 
  • DegreaserUse a degreaser without solvent for the best outcome. Some oven cleaners may do the trick. Spray the area and allow to sit for up to 10 minutes. Scrub with a stiff brush and then thoroughly rinse off. If you can find a good commercial-level degreaser this will work better than oven cleaner. 
  • Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP):Mix the TSP with water to create a paste and paint it onto the stain with a scrub brush make sure to thoroughly work the paste into the surface. Allow the mixture to absorb the oil for up to 30 minutes before rinsing it off with low pressure. 
  • Muriatic AcidThis is a harsh chemical that can be dangerous so wear gloves, eye protection and DO NOT get this substance on your skin. Equally important, you do not want to inhale this substance which can be done by simply spraying it into a mist that wafts upwards.  Hence we suggest also wearing a mask. Be extra careful to also thoroughly soak nearby grass and vegetation prior to rinsing this from the asphalt.
    Follow the instructions for dilution on the muriatic acid bottle you purchase. The dilution levels can vary greatly depending on the brand.
    Apply the solution to the stained area and allow to sit for up to a minute followed by thorough rinsing. 
  • Steam Pressure MethodHappen to have a steam/hot water pressure washing rig? If so this machine is said to be one of the best tools for removing oil stains which is why most commercial-level pressure-washing companies have one on their rig. If all else fails, look for a company such as this to come in and remove the stains. 

For oil spills (not stains, unless very recent)

Firstly, if you just spilled the oil be sure to first blot up as much as possible with some paper towels or rag.

Cat litter to the rescue!

Head over to just about any grocery store to purchase the absolute cheapest cat litter they have. Dump the cat litter onto the stain and thoroughly pound the dirt-like substance into any cracks and well into the surface of the area. If the stained are is large you may very well end up using the entire bag of litter. Allow the cat litter to sit on the stain for at least 8 hours and then sweep or vacuum up the excess litter followed by spraying the surface with a hose to remove the rest.

Spilled paint stains on Asphalt

Unfortunately, as asphalt is generally quite porous unless very well seal coated, paint stains are often one of the most difficult stains to remove without leaving behind discoloration and even noticeable scratch marks. Regardless, use the following methods at your own risk.

  1. Paint removing chemical. Purchase a good paint remover and apply it to the surface, scrub with a stiff brush and possibly even a metal wire brush if needed. We suggest spraying with water every 60 seconds to minimize long-term, irreversible damage. When complete thoroughly rinse the chemical off of the asphalt.
  2. Heated pressure washing. This is also not great for the surface of the asphalt but may yield good results for the overall look of the area by getting the majority of the paint off.
    After removing the paint, you may want to consider purchasing a good black or dark grey paint (color match as best possible).

OR – skip the removal methods and simply have that area sealcoated. This will cover the paint blemish but will leave the surface unevenly seal coated.

Consult a licensed asphalt company

Anderson and Sons Asphalt of Pinellas County, Florida is here to help. Contact us today for a free quote or even just some quick advice on how to tackle your asphalt stains.

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    1. Sorry for the massively late response here but we’ve heard that vinegar can help with removing bleach stains. You’ll need a good amount and a strong scrub brush. However, ultimately we cannot assure you this will not make the situation worse so use it at your own risk

      1. Hi,
        We have a newly paved asphalt driveway and some dirt got on it right after it had been completed. There are now swirls of dirt stains spread throughout. We have rinsed it with a hose and it has rained. Is there anyway to remove these?

        Thank you!


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