How To Clean Concrete



It wasn't that long ago that the only place you would find concrete was the driveway, the garage floor, the outdoor patio, and perhaps the basement floor.

Today, concrete is becoming a popular alternative to wood, tile or carpeted floors, and even as an alternative to granite, quartz and other high end materials for countertops.

Affordability, the cool urban look, the ease of maintenance, and the ability to do things to make it look unique are all contributing to reasons why people choose concrete as opposed to other surfaces, both for spaces inside their homes, and for outdoor areas.

I know how to clean concrete properly, and regular concrete cleaning will keep surfaces and floors looking great all the time, ensuring that they all last for as long as possible.


General Information

Concrete is so porous that the buildup of dirt and grime on its surfaces often goes unnoticed. Regular cleaning is not just something to do to make your concrete look nice; it protects the surfaces so they will last longer. The way to clean concrete depends on how and where the concrete surfaces are used.

Using Soap on Concrete

Soap is a very effective cleanser to use on concrete. Fatty acids in soap remove grease, dirt and grime, causing oil to emulsify. Some concrete surfaces (particularly counters) will not tolerate soap that contains abrasive ingredients.

For General Stain Removal

Most stains need to be treated with a chemical spray that is allowed to soak into the concrete and then dry. After the spray is completely dry, go over the area with a power washer. This should remove the stain.

To Clean a Driveway or Garage Floor

First, sweep the floor to remove debris and potential hazards such as nails, broken glass and anything else that may have fallen on the floor. Use a power washer to remove grease from the garage floor or driveway. Always use an alkaline (not acidic) degreaser and very hot water. Spraying the area with the hot soapy mixture and the oil should come off easily. The same alkaline degreaser is effective for removing soot from concrete.

General Concrete Wall Cleaning

Unless the walls are badly stained, you should be able to use a mild soap and a damp rag. Then rinse the soap away and dry the area with a clean towel. If the walls are dirtier or have stains (other than rust), mix a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and warm water into a paste. Then scrub the surface with the poultice. Lastly, rinse the area thoroughly and wipe it dry.




Rust-Stained Concrete Walls

Since concrete often contains steel, rust is a potential problem – especially if or when it seeps into the depths of the concrete. To penetrate deep enough in the wall to remove the rust stains, always use a cleansing agent that contains oxalic acid.

Cleaning Your Concrete Counters

Never use any ammonia-based cleansing agents or abrasive cleansers on concrete counters. For everyday cleaning, just use a mild soap and warm water. Rinse the area thoroughly to remove the soap and wipe dry with a clean towel. Regular everyday cleaning like this should keep the counters looking nice at all times. Always remember to wipe up any spills as soon as they occur.

Cleaning Concrete Floors

Before you clean concrete floors, move furniture, plants and other objects out of the way. Unplug and remove electrical cords from the area and cover all of the outlets so they won't get wet. Cover plants, furniture and other objects that could get wet.

Make sure that concrete floors are properly sealed. The concrete sealer protects the floor from dirt and stains, while making it water resistant as well. The floor will require occasional resealing, but how often that is necessary will depend largely on the amount of traffic it gets.

For general floor cleaning, use a soft brush to loosen dirt, and a mop and warm water to wipe up anything else. Regular sweeping will keep it nice and clean until you mop again. For problem areas where deep cleaning is warranted, start by mopping the floor with a mild soap and warm water. If that doesn't do the trick, use a stronger soap and warm water. If that fails, use an even stronger soap and add ammonia to the warm water, and mop the area.

Concrete requires a minimal amount of care, and it is a durable material that will last for a very long time – with proper care. It looks good, and it is relatively inexpensive - compared to other materials, always clean concrete surfaces regularly, and get them resealed periodically to make sure that they are properly protected.



References

Maintaining Your Concrete Clean

How to Clean Concrete

Caring for Concrete Floors

Maintenance Tips for Stamped Concrete

Structure Magazine: Removing Stains from Concrete


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