Tried & true methods for cleaning concrete

July 28, 2015

When cleaning concrete the essential first step is to determine what caused the grime or stain, and then act quickly and accordingly. Methods vary on how to clean concrete, but cleaning up that garage floor, patio, footpath, drive way or other concrete feature is an essential part of regular home maintenance.

Tried & true methods for cleaning concrete

1. Annual maintenance

  • Clean concrete at least once a year.
  • Before you start, be sure to protect all adjacent glass, metal, wood, plants or other decorative materials with a tarp or old shower curtain.
  • Try one of the following methods but to make sure it works, test the method in an obscure spot.
  • Never use a metallic brush on concrete, as metallic fibres can get trapped in the concrete, where they'll eventually rust.
  • If the concrete is old and crumbly, brush it lightly with a soft brush. If that doesn't do the trick, try using warm water and a mild detergent, adding white vinegar to the water if the soil and stains persist.
  • Wet the concrete with warm water and let it absorb the water. Then scrub using a soft, non-metallic brush. Wash off the concrete with a garden hose fitted with a high-pressure nozzle and let it dry.
  • If that doesn't remove the stain, add 50 ml (1/4 cup) of mild dishwashing liquid to a bucket of warm water and scrub again.
  • Failing that, use a liquid laundry detergent, mixed with water and50 ml (1/4 cup)of ammonia, applied with a stiff nylon brush.
  • For obstinate grime, mix a concentrated cleaner in a bucket with hot water, according to the package instructions for heavy cleaning jobs. Scrub with a rigid nylon brush, then rinse with a garden hose and allow to air dry. You can also use sugar soap. Wear protective clothing when using both these products.

2. Stain removal

  • To remove serious stains, such as tire marks, grease, oil and other stubborn materials, you're going to have to get aggressive.
  • For fresh grease stains, first sprinkle dry cement, one of the clay-type kitty litters or sand on the spot, letting it sit for an hour to absorb the mess.
  • Then sweep it up with a dustpan and broom.
  • For more irksome grease spots, use a commercial product that removes oil, grease and tar from cement, terrazzo and stone. These can be bought from hardware stores, and make sure you follow the label instructions.

3. For moss or mildew

If these are proving to be a persistent problem, you will probably need to scrub with a bleach-based product.

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