How to Vacuum Oil

oil on pavement
What You'll Need
Wet dry vacuum
Sawdust or shop sand

If you have an oil spill to vacuum you can do this by purchasing a wet dry vacuum to perform this task. A wet dry vacuum is designed specifically for vacuuming spills and other messes that occur in a workshop or garage you do work in. When dealing with messes such as oil spills you should always use a wet dry vacuum cleaner and never, under any circumstances, use a household upright vacuum cleaner. Upright vacuum cleaners are not designed for this type of work and you will damage the upright if you use it to vacuum oil.

In order to properly vacuum an oil spill with a wet dry vacuum here are the tools, materials and steps that you need to follow to accomplish this how-to job.

Step 1 - Purchase a Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner

shop vac in a driveway next to a white car

From a home improvement center or other retailer that sells vacuum cleaners, purchase a heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner. The heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner, which is also referred to as a shop vacuum cleaner or shop vac, is specifically designed to clean up messes made in a garage or workshop, including oil spills. Be sure to double check the heavy duty wet dry vacuum you purchase is designed for this purpose, and buy the most appropriate model for your home garage or workshop.

Step 2 - Read the Owner's Manual

With equipment such as a heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner it is always a good idea to read the owner's manual before beginning, to make sure that you understand how the equipment works. Familiarize yourself with every aspect of the wet dry vacuum cleaner and be able to identify the different parts and components for your heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner. The canister is where the materials that you vacuum up go and is usually detachable by undoing the hinge clasps that run alongside the body of the canister.

Vacuum up a small amount of material as a test run and open the canister up to see where the materials go. Empty the heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner and now you are ready to use it.

Step 3 - Place Sawdust on the Oil Spill

handful of sawdust next to a pile

Take a handful of sawdust, kitty litter, or shop sand and cover the oil stain. The material will absorb the puddle of oil and make it easier for you to use the heavy duty wet dry vacuum to pick up the spill. Be sure to cover the entire spill completely. Wait a few minutes after laying the sawdust or sand down before vacuuming to ensure as much oil is as absorbed as possible.

Step 4 - Pick up the Oil

Turn on the heavy duty wet dry vacuum cleaner and clean up the sawdust pile that you put down to absorb the oil. Dispose of the contents of the canister according to local laws regarding the disposal of oil. When you finish vacuuming, use rags to dry any remaining oil spots that are left behind.