February 21, 2023

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Discovering Green: Removing Oil from Concrete

Discovering Green: Removing Oil from Concrete

 by Doug Rucker, Clean & Green Solutions, www.cleanandgreensolutions.com.

Download the pdf file: Discovering Green, from the February 2011 issue

“Is there anything you can do to get this oil stain out of my driveway?”

That has been a question I have been asked many times. In the past, I always gave the standard answer: “Mr. Jones, nothing will take oil completely out of concrete. The best I can do is lighten it a little bit using hot water”

For years I tried many different products attempting to remove oil stains from concrete driveways, and always with no success. These products usually consisted of heavy degreasers, caustics, acids, and other harmful chemicals. The degreasers I tried did absolutely nothing to the stain, and the acid . . . well, we know all that only removes a small layer of the concrete. The stain and shadow would always remain.

I have been a reader of Cleaner Times for many years. I began noticing in December of 2007 an advertisement in the classified section for a product that would remove oil from concrete, asphalt and soil. The product was also environmentally friendly, containing no VOC’s or harsh chemicals.

Finally, in June 2008, I called the number in the ad and asked for a free sample. About a week later I received my sample – a tiny four-ounce bottle with liquid in it and labeled with complete instructions. My first reaction was, “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” I was sort of surprised that all the company sent was four ounces. I was expecting a gallon or at least a quart. I told myself there was no way this small amount could cut through oil in concrete. I tossed it on a shelf in my office and forgot about it.

After looking at that sample every day for a couple weeks I finally called the company back and got the national sales manager on the phone. I asked him what in the world I was supposed to use this small sample for and how could this small amount remove an oil stain from concrete.

He explained to me how the product has millions of tiny little microbes (bugs) and good bacteria in it. He said to spray a little water on the oil stain, lightly agitate the product with a stiff bristle brush – just until a white lather forms – then walk away. He also told me to try to time it so that it rains six to eight hours after I had done this. Otherwise I could use a pressure washer and go back and pressure wash the stain. He further explained that the millions of tiny little microbes (bugs) would immediately begin to eat the oil away all the way deep into the pores of the concrete.

That afternoon, I went up to the local NAPA auto parts store and asked the owner if I could try the product out on of his parking spots. He agreed. It took me a total of 15 seconds to apply the product per manufacturer instructions. Later that evening, we received a rather good thunderstorm and the next morning it was nice and sunny. I headed up to the store to see the results. I was shocked to say the least.

You could not even tell the oil stain had been there. It had been removed completely with no shadow. I immediately went into the store to get the owner and brought him out to show him. After standing there speechless for about 15 seconds he finally said, “I have 12 different products on my shelf and they all say they will do that, but none of them do. I’ll take a dozen of those right now.”

This success led me to investigate this product line more, place my first order, and eventually becoming a distributor for the product line. I found out that these products are manufactured with microbes, enzymes, and natural surfactants. These ingredients are what cause such dramatic results if the cleaning person is willing to be patient and allow the product to work. I also found out that these products can clean a wide variety of surfaces and stains while at the same time posing no threat to me, plants, animals, or any type of surface. In fact, one of the selling points I use is that a person could actually have his or her hands in the product all day and not be harmed in any way.

As you will see in the pictures below, the same product I use for removing oil stains is a great product for removing and actually preventing mold and mildew. The pictures reflect a house I cleaned recently that was built with Mexican brick. I was able to clean this house using very soft (low) pressure in a very efficient and timely manner.

I eventually changed the name of my company from “Doug’s Pressure Cleaning” to “Clean and Green Solutions” and I began advertising that “We use CERTIFIED GREEN cleaning products that are safe for you and the environment.” I have seen my sales increase by 30 percent and I have closed a lot of jobs because of the fact that I use GREEN cleaning products.

I would challenge all contractors to investigate the integrating of green cleaning products into their cleaning product line, and learning the difference between “certified green,” (which means the product is certified by an independent 3rd party) and those that are labeled “environmentally friendly” or “biodegradable.” There is really quite a difference!

I realize that green cleaning products will never be the only solution to every cleaning challenge, but the more we can use these safe products, the more we can help protect and preserve our environment and create safe work sites, not only for our employees but for the general public as well.

For more information, please contact me at dougrucker21@gmail.com or visit my web site at www.cleanandgreensolutions.com.

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