Does Antifreeze Stain Driveways?

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Before winter, many people add antifreeze to their car's engine.

Like motor oil, radiator fluid and transmission fluid, antifreeze can leak from an engine or escape from the container, leaving an unsightly stain on the driveway. However, unlike most engine treatments, antifreeze is water-soluble and can easily cleaned with cat-box litter, regular detergent and ordinary tap water.


Antifreeze Ingredients

Antifreeze uses a combination of dilute propylene glycol or ethylene glycol and rust inhibitors to lowers the freezing point of the water, allowing an internal combustion engine to operate in below-freezing weather. Though the active ingredients are colorless, many antifreeze solutions also contain a red or green dye. While this increases their visibility and ease of use, these additives tend to stain porous materials, such as concrete, leaving ugly spots on the garage floor or driveway.


To clean a fresh antifreeze spill, pour kitty litter over the liquid and then crush the granules, working them into the fluid with the ball of your foot. Leave the litter in place for an hour or two, then sweep up the entire mess. The litter soaks up the fluid on the surface of the driveway and helps draw out any liquid that may have been absorbed by the concrete.



Remove stubborn antifreeze stains with automatic dishwasher detergent. Either pour liquid detergent directly over the stain or make a paste from powdered detergent and water. Scrub the discolored area with a stiff-bristled brush, then let the treatment soak overnight; rinse with water and repeat, if necessary.


The active ingredients in antifreeze are not particularly dangerous, however, they can be toxic if ingested. Unfortunately, many antifreeze blends have a sweet taste that appeals to both children and pets. To prevent accidental ingestion, keep antifreeze containers out of reach, dispose of used antifreeze properly and clean all spills immediately.



Lisa Parris

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.