Learning how to clean stained cement or concrete will help you maintain your home’s value. When you’re ready to sell, a spotless patio, driveway, and garage floor show potential buyers that you’ve paid attention to home maintenance details.
Cleaning a stained cement or concrete floor isn’t a quick task, but it’s not a difficult one, either. Before you get started there are a couple of important things to remember:
1. Do not mix cleaning methods! Combining different solvents can cause toxic fumes and lead to serious health problems. Treat each kind of stain one at a time, and give the floor enough time to dry between methods thoroughly. (Find out more about cleaning products you should never mix.)
2. Adequate ventilation is important. If you’re working in the garage, open the doors. Indoors, open windows. If you have asthma or allergies, it’s a good idea to wear a particulate respirator mask, too.
3. Consider sealing your floor once it’s clean. A sealer can add a glossy shine to your cement floor and also protect it from stains. DIY sealants need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 years, while professional, penetrating sealants can last as long as 20.
How To Clean Stained Cement
General soils: To remove general stains, use a push broom to make short work of cleaning this large area. Next, hose the area then sprinkle it with an oxygenated bleach (OxiClean is one), which won’t harm your lawn or any plants lining your driveway. Using the push broom, scrub stains then allow the oxygenated bleach to work for 10-15 minutes before rinsing well with the hose. Be sure to rinse your broom, too!
Moss and algae: Combine equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Spray this mix on the area, taking care not to spray surrounding plants or lawn. Scrub with a stiff-bristled brush then rinse thoroughly with water, directing the flow away from your yard and garden. Note: don’t use a use wire brush on cement since it can damage the surface.
Grease or oil: Sprinkle the area heavily with baby powder, clay cat litter, or diatomaceous earth. Allow the powder to remain in place overnight to lift the oil. The next day, sweep and discard it. Now that the surface oil has been removed, combine 1 quart of very HOT water and 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent in a bucket. (Dawn is excellent at cutting through grease.) Wash the area, scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush or push broom, then rinse. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Rust: Wet the area then sprinkle it with oxalic acid (the main ingredient in Bar Keeper’s Friend) and scrub. Rinse thoroughly and repeat until the stain is gone.
Mold or mildew: Add 1/4 cup chlorine bleach to 1 quart of hot water and pour this on the stain. Wait 10 minutes before rinsing well. (Do not get bleach on plants or lawn!)
To prevent future stains, place a galvanized drip pan under the area where you ordinarily park your car and put storage boxes on blocks of wood. You can also easily install a rubber garage floor mat that can be wiped or sprayed clean in minutes.