Tips For Concrete Cleaning

Concrete withstands a lot, but it is not immune to the effects of dirt and debris or the stains they create. From food spills to tire marks, there are several items most homeowners have on hand that can remove stubborn stains from concrete.

A few stronger cleaning products are also available, such as muriatic acid (used with extreme care since it can burn skin and eyes) or oxalic acid, which is excellent for removing tough rust stains. Learn more by clicking here.

Debris Removal

Debris removal can be a vital part of cleaning and restoration operations. In addition to providing a safer and more pleasant environment for citizens, it also can help minimize the risk of costly damage to improved property or infrastructure from debris that is left behind. It can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and it may require the use of specialized equipment such as bulldozers or excavators.

Begin by clearing the area to be cleaned. Remove any furniture, grills, toys, plants, and utility cabinets. Clear the concrete surface by sweeping it with a broom or vacuuming with a shop vac. Next, hose off the concrete to remove any droppings or dirt that has accumulated on its surface. For stains that are difficult to remove by hand, mix a solution of 1/8 of a cup liquid dishwashing detergent, 1/2 a cup baking soda, and one-gallon water. Apply the cleaner to the stained areas and scrub with a brush, then rinse.

If a stain remains, try covering it with an absorbent material like clay or clumping cat litter. If that fails, try a chemical cleaner such as muriatic acid. It is highly effective and can usually provide a dramatic improvement in the appearance of the concrete with just one application. It can brighten concrete and remove common mineral stains, such as efflorescence and calcium. It can also eliminate oil stains, mold, algae, and paint splatter.


Before tackling concrete cleaning, you will want to prep the surface. This may include the use of a chemical such as mastic remover to loosen thin-set or mastic, followed by an alkaline detergent wash to remove any solvent residue. Some surfaces, such as those with a high level of oil and grease on them, will benefit from the application of an acid cleaner (such as muriatic acid) to etch the surface and allow a smoother finish.

When using muriatic acid, make sure you take the proper safety precautions. This powerful acid can burn your skin, harm surrounding grass and plants, and damage concrete if used improperly. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask. You should also corral any outdoor pets and cover any furnishings or landscaping to protect them from the acid solution.

Other chemicals, such as petroleum distillates, may be included in the composition to help clean the concrete surface more effectively. A surfactant may also be included to improve the wetting ability of the composition on the concrete surface, which helps lift reaction products and etch the surface more thoroughly. Preferably, the surfactant is a nonionic surfactant such as a linear alcohol ethoxylate or a mixture of alkyl phenol ethoxylates. A glycol ether is also preferred as it solubilizes some oils and other organic materials.


Concrete surfaces can be cleaned with a variety of chemicals. The most important factor is to determine what type of sealer the concrete has, as this will influence the appropriate cleaning methods. For unsealed concrete without embedded dirt, basic pH cleaners that don’t contain acids are best. Muriatic acid is a good choice for tougher stains, such as those caused by efflorescence or extreme rust. Oxalic acid can also be used to remove certain types of mineral stains, such as those that appear as white deposits around concrete cracks.

The first step in any cleaning project is to prepare the surface. Choose an overcast day for outdoor work so the cleaning solution doesn’t evaporate before it can do its job. Clear the area by removing furniture, grills, tools, plants, toys, and anything else that’s on or near the concrete surface.

If your concrete is heavily stained, try a mild cleaner before resorting to harsher chemicals. A broom and garden hose should be enough for most light to moderate concrete staining, but for oily or heavily soiled areas, consider using a pressure washer. You can find attachments to convert your garden hose into a power washer or rent one from your hardware store. Make sure to follow instructions carefully when using a pressure washer, as high water pressure can damage concrete. Definitely worth checking out!


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