Asphalt is a magnet for dirt and organic debris. Sweeping helps, but a pressure washer is the fastest way to clear clogged pavement. Be careful when dealing with set organic or oil stains as high water pressure can push the contaminant deeper into small cracks and voids.

Laundry detergent and baking soda will also remove a variety of stains. However, solvents like paint thinner or turpentine will damage your asphalt.


Asphalt makes driveways, parking lots and roads smoother, quieter and more attractive, but the investment is only a good one if it is well maintained. Proper cleaning, weed control and filling cracks on an ongoing basis can extend its lifespan.

If your property has heavy traffic, sweep on a routine basis to remove foreign materials such as gravel, dirt, leaves, grass clippings and twigs. A power broom is a great tool for this task, and it’s usually inexpensive to rent or buy. This is especially important to do in winter, when de-icer and sand are used for safety, but which can infiltrate the empty spaces and clog porous pavement.

Severe oil and fuel spills should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid damage to the asphalt. This is a job best done by professionals who have access to industrial paving cleaner solutions and equipment, as some household cleansers aren’t suitable for asphalt surfaces or may do more harm than good. For small stains, try using an absorbent dry material like cat litter or sawdust to soak up the excess. If these don’t work, scrub the stain with a stiff-bristled brush and then rinse the area thoroughly.

If a hole is too large to patch by hand, use an asphalt cold patch, which can be bought in bags at home supply stores or hardware stores. Mix it with water, apply to the hole and compact thoroughly, again with a heavy board or tamper.

Weeds aren’t just a tripping hazard, but their roots penetrate asphalt and cause cracks which lead to more serious damage. Killing and regularly re-emulsifying weeds prevents them from taking hold, while filling cracks at the onset of their growth keeps them from becoming bigger problems in the future.

Pressure Wash

The best way to clean up serious oil stains from asphalt is to use a pressure washer. This can be rented at most home improvement stores, but it is important to understand that asphalt does not react well to high water pressure and may be damaged. The best way to protect the pavement is to start with a low setting and work your way up as needed.

Before using a pressure washer, you must remove any dirt that has built up on the surface of the asphalt. A long handle push broom with stiff bristles should be used to scrub the surface and get the dirt out of cracks and crevices. It is also a good idea to wear work gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection when spraying the asphalt with the pressure washer.

When washing the asphalt, you can use a standard household detergent that is safe to use on concrete and will help remove any remaining oil from the surface. If you are cleaning a large area, it may be more practical to rent a gas powered pressure washer as the job will go faster and it will have a higher power output.

For minor oil stains, you can use laundry detergent or baking soda to treat them. Simply sprinkle the powdered detergent on the stain and add a small amount of water. Scrub the area with a long-handled push broom or brush and leave the solution on for about 30 minutes. This will allow the detergent to penetrate and lift the oil. You can then rinse the solution away with a hose. It is a good idea to seal the driveway after the cleanup process to protect it from future stains.

Laundry Detergent

While you might think your asphalt is impervious, it is prone to oil stains that can damage it. Regular maintenance will help keep stains from appearing, but once they do you must act fast to remove them. Using a pressure washer is the most efficient way to break up old stains and clean your asphalt, but you can also use common household items like laundry detergent, baking soda or Coke to do the job.

Powdered laundry detergent is an effective item that can help to remove oil stains from your asphalt paving, simply sprinkle the powder over the stain and pour a bit of water to moisten it. Then, scrub the area hard with a brush and rinse the pavement off with a hose. This method is a good option for those who don’t have access to commercial cleaners or want to try something that won’t hurt the environment.

If the stains have been there for quite a while, it may be necessary to try more intensive methods of removing them from your asphalt. You can use a non-clumping clay or sand type of kitty litter that is designed to absorb, which will pull the oil up from the aggregate and allow you to sweep it away.

You can also use a bit of WD-40 spray or muriatic acid, but you should be very cautious when using these products and wear proper protection including protective eyewear. Always wash the area thoroughly before trying these products and always read the cautions on the label. If the stain remains, it might be time to consider replacing the affected area of the asphalt. It is not advisable to cover oil stains as this will eat through the new asphalt sealcoat and will only make the problem worse.

Baking Soda

When it comes to cleaning up oil spills and stains on asphalt, there are a few items that you may already have at home that can be used. Baking soda (Americans will often refer to it as bicarbonate of soda) is a great kitchen item that can be used for a variety of purposes, including soaking up oil spills.

This baking soda can be placed directly on the oil stain and scrubbed with a stiff brush to get it up, which is best done when the stain is fresh. It can also be poured over the spot and let sit for an hour or so to allow it to penetrate the oil spot. Once it has been allowed to soak into the stain, it can be washed away.

Another common household item that can help break down and absorb oil is cat litter. This is a great option for removing small oil spots that have been left on the pavement, which can be cleaned with a damp rag and a garden hose.

Coca-Cola is a popular item that can be used for many different things, from removing rust from toilets to getting rid of grease stains. This same product can be used on oil stains in your asphalt driveway, just pour one or two cans over the stain and allow it to sit overnight for the soda to absorb into the oil spot. The next day, you can scrub the stain with a stiff brush and wash it off using a garden hose. Whether you’re dealing with old or new oil stains, it’s important to take care of them quickly to avoid permanent damage to your asphalt surface. The longer that these stains remain on the pavement, the more likely they are to eat away at the binder and cause serious damage.


There is no way to completely prevent dirt and debris from impacting asphalt surfaces. However, if you remain on top of your asphalt maintenance cleaning the debris that does find its way to your pavement should not cause any lasting damage. However, serious oil and fuel spills must be dealt with immediately as these substances will eat away at the asphalt, transforming it from a resilient surface into a crumbling brittle mess.

The first thing you want to do if an oil or fuel stain occurs is to soak up the liquid with an absorbent material like cat litter, sawdust or bricks. This will help to keep the liquid from soaking into your soil or draining into your water system. After the oil and fuel is completely soaked up, you should then use a degreaser cleaner that is specifically made for asphalt. Some commercial paving supplies companies and some home improvement stores carry industrial paving cleaning solutions that are designed to be safe for your pavement.

If you are unable to get the oil or fuel stain out of your pavement, try pouring a can of Coca-Cola over it and allow it to sit overnight. The acidic properties in the soda will break down the discoloration. Just remember to scrub the area thoroughly the next day and rinse it with a yard hose.

If you regularly sweep and pressure wash your pavement, but are struggling with persistent stains or cracks, it may be time to consider having your asphalt professionally sealed. A professional sealcoat will protect your asphalt from sun damage and help to repel moisture, oil and gasoline. It will also fill in cracks, keeping them from growing into large potholes and depressions that are expensive to repair.