You may be only too familiar with the annoyance of pulling your car out of the driveway only to see large coolant spots where the car was parked. While you may be tempted to just leave it there, it's actually relatively easy to clean coolant off a concrete driveway. It's best to clean the spot as soon as you can so that pets or wildlife aren't tempted to lick the area.
Toxicity to Humans and Animals
A key ingredient of antifreeze is ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to humans. Some brands can contain propylene glycol, though. Although it's less dangerous to swallow propylene glycol, ethylene glycol can severely damage the nervous system and kidneys.
Pets can be attracted to antifreeze because it has a sweet taste, but even a small amount is extremely dangerous if ingested. That's why it's best to keep antifreeze in a secure place, well out of the reach of pets. When ingested, it can take several hours for signs of poisoning to occur, so if you think your pet may have ingested coolant, call your vet or local emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
Antifreeze that's dumped, spilled, or leaked into a water source or onto grass and other plants can be a huge health hazard if ingested. When disposing of coolant, you may be tempted to dump it in your garbage, but you can't just throw it away. Be careful when handling coolant and always recycle or dispose of it in accordance with your state's Department of Waste Management.
Cleaning Coolant Off a Concrete Driveway
To contain fresh coolant spills, put on gloves and on pour an absorbent substance, such as cat litter or baking soda, on it. These types of substances can pick up the antifreeze before it seeps into the concrete. Let the absorbent substance sit for at least one hour.
After no more than three hours, remove the coolant and absorbent substance with a shovel and wipe up any remaining coolant with paper towels before cleaning the area with detergent and rinsing thoroughly. Dispose of the paper towels and absorbent substance in a sealed plastic trash bag placed in an outside trash container that kids and animals can't access.
Treating Coolant Stains
Since coolant is water-soluble, first wet the area to release the stain from the concrete. Letting the area soak allows the coolant to dissolve in the water and makes the cleanup process easier. While the stain is soaking in water, put on gloves and cover the stain with laundry detergent. Then layer on several pieces of newspaper.
Wet the newspaper with water and let the area dry for approximately three hours. When the newspaper is completely dry, pull it up from the stained area and throw it away. To fully clean the stained area, dip a nylon-bristled brush in water and scrub the detergent until it reaches a pastelike consistency with thick, lathery suds.
Rinsing and Drying the Area
Use a hose or a bucket of water to completely rinse the suds from the spot. Then place a couple of sheets of dry newspaper over the wet spot to soak up excess water and let the spot air-dry. The newspaper will help accelerate the drying process.
As soon as the spot is dry, check to see if there is any remaining residue or staining. The stain and discoloration should no longer be visible. If staining is still visible, repeat the cleaning process.
- SUNDEK Houston: How To Clean Antifreeze Off of Concrete
- National Capital Poison Center: Antifreeze: Bad for Your Kids and Pets
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Digging Deeper: Getting the Facts on the Dangers of Antifreeze and Your Pets
- MSPCA–Angell: The Dangers of Antifreeze to Your Pet, and What To Do About It
- Angi: How to Remove Stains From Driveways and Garage Floors in 3 Steps
- Centric Auto Repair: How to Clean Anti Freeze Off a Garage Floor
- Bob Vila: How To: Check and Dispose of Old Antifreeze