How to Clean a Concrete Floor

  • December 4, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
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Concrete is one of the most durable and low maintenance building materials. It is also less expensive compared to other  flooring materials. Traditionally, concrete has been used to make garage floors, basement floors, and outdoor floors such as patios. But in recent times, homeowners have started using concrete to make living or dining room floors and kitchen floors.

High Heels on Concrete

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

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

The location of the floor and the type of finish it has dictates how to clean concrete floors. The process of cleaning outdoor concrete floors is different from that of indoor concrete floors. Similarly, there is 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: Before you clean concrete floors, clear all furniture, carpets, and other items in the room. It does not make sense to have obstacles around you while you are cleaning. Plus, these items will prevent you from cleaning the cement floor 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 from the cement flooring. You can also use a high-powered vacuum cleaner to clean and remove 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, you need to remove them first. It is important to be efficient when it comes to learning how to clean concrete floors. Here are the instructions for each type of stain.

Cleaning Cart
  • Food and Beverage Stains: If the stain is due to food or beverages such as sauces, coffee, or wine 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 clean the cement floor with a soft bristle brush soaked in this cleaning solution. It is important that you clean with a soft bristle brush such as nylon because a metal brush or any other harder brush might scratch the surface badly.
  • Oil Stains: If cooking oil, an oily sauce, melted cheese, or any other oil-based substance has caused the stain, then you need to first splash some water on the stained area before you clean. Depending on the size of the stain, pour two to four drops of liquid dishwashing soap over it. Now, use a soft bristle brush soaked in lukewarm water to scrub the stained area till a nice 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 is not completely removed, repeat the process.
  • Grease Stains: Grease stains on floors are a lot more stubborn than oil-based stains. You should never scrub grease because that can result in the stain spreading wider. To clean, spread cornstarch over the stained area and let it be for at least two to three days. The cornstarch will slowly absorb the grease from your cement flooring. After three 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 clean your concrete floors using these products too.
  • Mildew or Mold Stains: To clean and remove mildew or mold, mix two tablespoons of detergent powder and trisodium phosphate with a liter of bleach and three liters of water. Soak a soft-bristle brush in this solution and scrub clean the stained area. Rinse it with clean water to remove any residue from the concrete flooring.
  • 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 are not recommended for sealed, polished, or stamped concrete floors as it could damage the surface. Use it only on plain concrete floors, where there is 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 harsh cleaning products together. If you are using bleach to clean your concrete floors, then stick to it. Do not try using ammonia if the stain does not come off in the first attempt. Also, always wear a pair of gloves while using these products to clean your floors for protection.

Cleaning Outdoor Concrete Floor

Before we discuss how to clean concrete floors, let us see what equipment and cleaning products you will need. You can include the garage floor under the outdoor umbrella. Ideally, you should use a power washer. You can easily rent it for a day and return it after you are done cleaning.

Stepping on Gum

The instructions on how to clean using a power washer are simple and it is easy to operate so you do not have to hire a professional. You can use the regular garden hose with a high-powered nozzle if you cannot get a power washer. You will also need a nylon bristle brush or any other stiff bristle 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 are cleaning has moss or weed growth, remove these by pulling them with your hands. Sweep clean the floor and then power wash it to remove any remaining soil or debris. Wash the floor clean 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 flooring is still wet, sprinkle the concrete cleaner powder or trisodium phosphate all over it. Use a nylon brush to properly scrub clean the floor in a circular motion. This will loosen any remaining dirt and grime on the surface of your floors. Finally, hose down the entire floor once again to rinse it clean.

Cleaning Indoor Concrete Floor

Indoor floors are more likely to be sealed and polished. You need to be gentler while you clean indoor concrete floors. Use a non-acidic or pH neutral cleaning agent and follow the instructions properly. Never use bleach, ammonia, or any other harsh cleaning agents on your indoor floors because they can damage the finish.

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 should not be dripping. You want the solution to dry up fast and not sit long on the floor.

Clean starting 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 are cleaning. If the room does not have a decent ventilation, switch on the fan at a low speed.

Once you are 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 is possible you might not notice a spill immediately, but when you do, clean it right away. This will significantly reduce the chances of staining.
  • Do seal your concrete floors with a high-quality sealant. Concrete is porous and the sealant will prevent stain-producing substances from seeping into it. This will make concrete floors easier to clean and stay clean.
  • Waxing concrete floors offers twin advantages. It reduces staining and dirt build-up on the concrete floors and protects the sealant as well.
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The benefits of concrete flooring have become well known and resulted in greater acceptance. As more people start having concrete flooring at home, it is important to know how to clean and maintain concrete flooring. Just make sure that you clean outdoor and indoor concrete floors properly for best results.