Can Coca-Cola Clean Oil Stains Off Your Driveway? Here's What We Know

Cleaning up oil stains in your driveway can be a tough job, especially if the stain has had time to sit and settle into the concrete. Some online sources claim that Coca-Cola is capable of removing grease stains from driveways because of the acids it contains, and there is some truth to it. Coke contains phosphoric acid, which is commonly used in acidic concrete cleaners as well as bathroom cleaning products, and it has a low, acidic pH of 2.37. This means that Coke is not only a tasty, cold drink, but has practical applications for removing oil stains from concrete.

Unfortunately, despite being able to clean your driveway, the famous beverage could also harm your concrete and might not be worth the risk. If you're worried that using Coca-Cola could damage your driveway, you might try a safer alternative such as dish soap. For serious stains, trisodium phosphate (TSP) could be a good solution, though it may not be available everywhere.

Why Coca-Cola might not be the best choice for cleaning driveway oil stains

The reason that Coke is able to lift grease stains from hard surfaces like concrete is because the phosphoric acid it contains will eat away at the surface, eliminating the stain but potentially causing other issues. Using Coca-Cola on oil stains could not only discolor your driveway, but also damage it, especially if you use acids to clean it frequently. Some commercial concrete cleaning products contain phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are always perfectly safe for your concrete. While Coke may be able to remove the stains in some driveways without harm, certain surfaces such as decorative concrete are more susceptible to damage.

For those that want to try the Coke method, it's probably best to pour a little bit in a less noticeable spot of your driveway to see if it produces adverse effects. If it doesn't, start by using cat litter or sawdust to absorb any excess oil. This may not be necessary if the stain is older. Pour room temperature soda over the stain and scrub thoroughly before letting it sit. After about 30 minutes, you may consider washing the area with hot water and dish soap as well before rinsing.

Alternatives to clean oil stains off your driveway

Rather than testing Coca-Cola on your concrete, you might consider starting with something gentler. Dish soap and other detergents, such as laundry detergent, can make cleaning driveway oil spills a breeze. This is especially true with fresh stains. To start, absorb any oil that is still sitting on the surface of the concrete before washing. Now, combine your dish soap or laundry detergent with hot water and scrub the solution into the stained area with a large nylon brush. If the stain has had more time to set, you might try putting the soap directly on the stain and scrubbing, rather than diluting it with water. When you're finished, wash the soap away.

Trickier stains may require a bit more work, but trisodium phosphate is often recommended for cleaning stubborn concrete oil stains. It may be safer for your driveway than acidic cleaners because it becomes alkaline when added to water. Mix 1 cup of your TSP into a gallon of water and pour it onto the greasy concrete. Now, scrub the area well for about 20 minutes and rinse away. This process can be repeated if necessary. Though Coke won't be the best choice for every driveway, there are numerous ways to clean off those pesky oil stains without risking damage to your concrete.