How to Clean a Concrete Floor

  • September 15, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
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Concrete is one of the most durable and low maintenance building materials. It’s also less expensive than certain other flooring materials. Traditionally, concrete has been used to make garage floors, basement floors and certain outdoor floors such as patios. But in recent times homeowners have started using concrete to make living or dining room floors and kitchen floors, among others.

High Heels on Concrete

Concrete is an excellent flooring material because it has high resistance to stains and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Concrete floors can also be given a glossy or shiny finish, a textured or stamped finish and it can be painted, which makes it a versatile material. If it’s installed properly and nothing excessively heavy falls on it, concrete floors will last a long time.

While concrete is a durable material, it still requires upkeep and care. Cleaning concrete floors on a regular basis increases its life. You should also seal your concrete floors, but that’s a separate discussion.

The location of the floor and the type of finish it has been given dictates how to clean concrete floor. The process of cleaning outdoor concrete floors is different from that for indoor concrete floors. Similarly, there’s a difference in the cleaning process for unsealed versus sealed concrete floors. Polished, stamped and painted concrete floors require a little more attention and careful cleaning.

Before you can begin cleaning a concrete floor, there are a couple of preparatory steps you need to take.

  1. 1
    Remove Everything: Clear all furniture, carpets and other items in the room. It doesn’t make sense to have obstacles around you while you’re cleaning. Plus, these items will prevent you from cleaning thoroughly.
  2. 2
    Sweep the Floor: Over a period of time, a lot of dust and debris settle on the floor. Use a microfiber broom to sweep the entire floor. A regular broom might fail to remove some of the finer dust particles. You can also use a high-powered vacuum cleaner to remove the dust and debris off the floor. Vacuuming is more efficient than sweeping because all the dust particles and debris are cleaned up. You should sweep or vacuum the floor at least once a week to ensure that the dust build-up is kept under check.

If there are stains on the concrete floor, then first these need to be removed. It’s important to be systematic to learn how to clean concrete floor. There’s a solution for each type of stain.

Cleaning Cart
  • Food and Beverage Stains: If the stain is due to food or beverages such as sauces, coffee, wine, etc. spilling on the floor, then all you need to do is mix two teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap in half-a-gallon of lukewarm water and then scrub the floor with a soft-bristled brush soaked in this solution. It’s important that you use a soft-bristled brush such as nylon because a metal brush or any other harder brush might badly scratch the surface.
  • Oil Stains: If cooking oil, an oily sauce or melted cheese or any other oil-based substance has caused the stain, then you need to first splash some water on the stained area. Depending on the size of the stain, pour 2 to 4 drops of liquid dishwashing soap over it. Now use a soft-bristled brush soaked in lukewarm water to scrub the stained area till a nice body of lather is formed. Place a few thick kitchen napkins or a clean, dry towel over the stained area to blot as much of the oil as possible. Rinse the floor with clean water to remove the soapy residue. If the stain isn’t completely removed, repeat the process.
  • Grease Stains: Grease stains are a lot more stubborn than oil-based stains. You should never scrub grease because that can result in the stain spreading wider. Spread cornstarch over the stained area and let it be for at least 2 to 3 days. The cornstarch will slowly absorb the grease. After 3 days, use a high-powered vacuum to clean up the cornstarch and the grease along with it. There are commercial solvent-based degreasing cleaning agents available in the market. You can use one of those too.
  • Mildew or Mold Stains: Mix 2 tablespoons of detergent powder and trisodium phosphate with a liter of bleach and 3 liters of water. Soak a soft-bristled brush in this solution and thoroughly scrub the stained area. Rinse it with clean water to remove any residue.
  • Stubborn Stains: If a stain is particularly stubborn and none of the above methods seem to be delivering the desired result, you can use harsher cleaning products such as hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and bleach. However, these aren’t recommended for sealed, polished or stamped concrete floors as it could damage the surface. Use it only on plain concrete floors, where there’s no danger of spoiling the finish. Mix any of these cleaning products with water in a 1:3 ratio, then spray it over the stained area and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Next, scrub the stained area with a soft brush. Finally, rinse the floor with clean water. Remember never to mix these together. If you’re using bleach, then stick to it. Don’t try using ammonia if the stain doesn’t come off in the first attempt. Also, always wear a pair of gloves while using these products.

Cleaning Outdoor Concrete Floor

Now let’s take a look at how to clean concrete floor, but first, let’s see what equipment and cleaning products you will need for it. You can include the garage floor under the outdoor floors umbrella. Ideally, you should use a power washer. You can easily rent it for a day and return it after you’re done cleaning.

Stepping on Gum

It’s fairly simple to operate so you won’t have to hire a professional. You can use the regular garden hose with a high-powered nozzle if you can’t get a power washer. You will also need a nylon-bristled brush or any other stiff-bristled brush, but not too hard. You can use trisodium phosphate or a commercial concrete cleaning powder, whichever is more convenient.

If the outdoor concrete floor you’re cleaning has moss or weed growth, remove these by pulling them with your hands. Sweep the floor and then power wash it to remove any remaining soil or debris. Wash the floor with sweeping strokes for best results. Start from one end and make your way through the entire floor, including any corners and crevices, which are dirt magnets.

While the floor is still wet, sprinkle the concrete cleaner powder or trisodium phosphate all over the floor. Use the nylon brush to properly scrub the floor in a circular motion. This will loosen any remaining dirt and grime on the surface. Finally, hose down the entire floor once again to rinse it.

Cleaning Indoor Concrete Floor

Indoor floors are more likely to be sealed and polished. You need to be gentler while cleaning indoor concrete floors. Use a non-acidic or pH neutral cleaning agent. Never use bleach, ammonia or any other harsh cleaning agents. It will damage the floor.

Fill up a large bucket with lukewarm water and add one-fourth cup of the cleaner, which could be liquid dishwashing soap or a concrete specific cleaning product. Soak a mop in this solution, wring it and then begin cleaning the floor. The mop shouldn’t be dripping. You want the solution to dry up fast and not sit for long on the floor.

Begin from one corner and cover the entire floor. Divide the floor into small squares in your mind and after cleaning one square, dip the mop back in the solution, wring it and clean the next small square. Keep the doors and windows open for ventilation while you’re cleaning. If the room doesn’t have decent ventilation, switch on the fan at a low speed.

Once you’re done with the entire floor and the floor has dried up, mop it once again with clean water.

How to Keep Concrete Floor Clean

Now that you know how to clean concrete floors, you should also know how to keep it clean.

  • Do not delay dealing with spills. It’s possible you might not notice a spill immediately, but when you do, clean it right away. This will significantly reduce the chances of staining.
  • If you haven’t already, seal your concrete floors with a good-quality sealant. Concrete is porous and the sealant will prevent stain-producing substances from seeping into it.
  • Waxing concrete floors offers twin advantages. It reduces staining and dirt build-up and protects the sealant as well.
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Concrete flooring is no longer frowned upon. The benefits of concrete flooring have become well known and resulted in greater acceptance. As more people start having concrete flooring at home, it’s important to know to clean and maintain concrete flooring. Just make sure that you clean outdoor concrete floors and indoor ones in the proper way for best results.