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.
Tips on Cleaning Stained Cement
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:
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.)
Adequate Ventilation is Essential
If you’re working in the garage, open the doors. Indoors, open windows. You’ll be stirring up a lot of dust and possibly other irritants that have soaked into the cement. Protect your lungs.
If you have asthma or allergies, it’s a good idea to wear a particulate respirator mask, too.
Consider Sealing Cement Floors
A sealer can add a glossy shine to your cement floor and also protect it from stains. If you plan to sell your home in the next year or two, this step will keep concrete floors looking brand new.
DIY sealants need to be reapplied every 2 to 3 years. Professional, penetrating concrete sealants can last as long as 20 years and often carry a transferrable warranty.
How to Clean Stained Cement or Concrete
As with any household task, the appropriate method depends on the type of mess you’re cleaning.
If your concrete or cement has multiple stains, you’ll need to treat each one separately. As noted above, it’s crucial that you do not mix cleaners or apply them immediately after each other. So, after tackling one type of stain, let the concrete thoroughly dry before proceeding to clean the next type.
Most concrete or cement cleaning projects should begin with general cleaning of the entire surface.
- Sweep the surface with a push broom to remove debris.
- Hose the area and 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 the stains then allow the oxygenated bleach to work for 10-15 minutes.
- Rinse the surface well, and rinse your broom, too. Let both fully air dry.
Mold, Mildew, Moss, and Algae Stains
Sweeping alone isn’t enough to remove these stains from cement. To remove the stain, you must first kill the spores. This is easily done by spraying it with equal parts distilled white vinegar and hot water. Scrub the area well after spraying, then rinse the surface and let it thoroughly dry.
Remove any lingering stain by applying a solution of 1/4 cup oxygenated bleach mixed into 1 gallon of hot water. Let this sit in place for 15-30 minutes, then rinse and dry the surface.
Grease or Oil Stains on Concrete
Oil leaks from cars, lawnmowers, or other equipment can leave behind a nasty, slippery mess on your concrete floor. It is possible to get rid of these greasy stains, but you’ll need to be patient.
- Soak up the surface spill by sprinkling the area heavily with baby powder, cornstarch, clay cat litter, or diatomaceous earth.
- Allow the powder to remain in place overnight to lift the oil. The next day, sweep up the mess and discard it.
- Next, combine 1 quart of very HOT water and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap in a bucket. (Dawn is excellent at cutting through grease.)
- Apply this mixture to the area and scrub it with a brush or broom. Rinse well with hot water then let it air dry.
- Finish by cleaning the area again using the general soil method described above.
Rust Stains on Cement
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.