How to Clean Concrete Floors

Concrete floors are durable, easy to maintain, and great for high-traffic areas. However, they still require regular cleaning to keep them looking their best. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can easily remove dirt, stains, and debris from concrete floors.

Supplies Needed to Clean Concrete Floors

Before getting started, make sure you have the following supplies:

  • Broom or dry mop – Use a broom or dry mop to sweep up loose dirt and debris. This will prevent anything from getting smeared around as you clean.
  • Mop and bucket – Choose a mop that can stand up to industrial use. A microfiber mop head is a good option for concrete floors. You’ll also need a bucket to hold the cleaning solution.
  • pH-neutral cleaner – Look for a cleaner specifically made for concrete. The ideal pH level is around 7-8. Acidic cleaners can etch concrete.
  • Scrub brush – For tougher stains, use a stiff scrub brush to help agitate the cleaner into the concrete.
  • Protective gear – Wear gloves and knee pads to protect yourself as you scrub. Safety goggles are also a good idea.
  • Wet/dry vacuum – After scrubbing, use a wet/dry shop vac to suck up the dirty solution.
  • Squeegee – A squeegee helps spread the rinse water evenly before drying.
  • Cotton mop heads – Have extra cotton mop heads on hand so you can replace as needed.
  • Floor sealant (optional) – Applying a concrete sealant helps concrete resist stains. Reapply as needed per manufacturer instructions.

How to Clean Concrete Floors

Follow these steps for clean, shiny concrete floors:

1. Sweep the Floor

Use a broom or dry mop to sweep up any loose debris and dirt. Be sure to get into corners and along edges. This prevents grinding any large particles into the floor as you mop.

2. Mix Cleaner with Water

Fill your bucket about halfway with hot water. Refer to the cleaner label for exact dilution ratios. Add a small amount of the pH-neutral cleaner and agitate to mix. You want soapy water without too many suds.

3. Mop Entire Floor

Dip your mop into the cleaning solution and wring out excess water so it’s damp but not dripping. Apply the solution to the concrete floor and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This gives the cleaner time to start breaking down dirt and stains.

4. Scrub Tough Stains

Use a stiff scrub brush on any set-in stains or built-up dirt. Apply more cleaner directly to these spots and aggressively scrub. Having someone else handle the brush while you pull the mop bucket saves time.

5. Rinse the Floor

Once the floor has been fully mopped and spot scrubbed, rinse the entire surface with clean water. Use the wet/dry vac to suck up dirty solution as you work. Change mop heads frequently so you’re using clean pads.

6. Squeegee Excess Water

After rinsing away all the cleaning solution and dirt, use a squeegee to spread water evenly across the floor. Wipe the squeegee blade frequently so streaks don’t develop.

7. Allow Floor to Dry

It’s best to leave concrete to air dry if possible. Place “Caution: Wet Floor” signs and leave for several hours or overnight. If needed, carefully walk with socks over the surface to dry any remaining damp areas. Never apply another cleaner or sealant until completely dry.

8. Apply a Concrete Sealant (Optional)

For added protection, use a roller or brush to apply 2-3 layers of a penetrating concrete sealant. This prevents liquids, oils and other contaminants from soaking into the concrete. Reapply annually or as needed.

Tips for Cleaning Different Types of Concrete Floors

Certain types of concrete require slightly different techniques:

Polished concrete – Avoid acidic cleaners which can dull the surface. Use hot water, mild dish soap and scrub with a soft bristle brush. Rinse well and air dry.

Stained concrete – Sweep frequently with a soft bristle broom and use mild cleaners to prevent wearing down the stain. Too much scrubbing or harsh detergents can lighten the color.

Epoxy coated concrete – Sweep away debris before mopping. Use cleaners made for epoxy surfaces and scrub gently with a soft brush. Avoid abrasive pads.

Concrete countertops – Mix a solution of 1⁄4 cup mild dish soap per gallon of warm water. Scrub lightly with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly. Avoid acidic kitchen cleaners.

Best Cleaning Solutions for Concrete Floors

Having the right type of cleaner makes a big difference in how easily concrete floors clean up. Here are some of the best options:

  • All-purpose alkaline cleaners – Look for products with a pH of 10-11 for heavy duty cleaning. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Citrus-based degreasers – Great for removing oily stains from garages and workshops.
  • Detergent and water – For light duty cleaning, combine laundry or dish detergent with hot water.
  • Baking soda – Helps remove grime. Make a paste with water and scrub. Rinse well.
  • White vinegar – Good for removing hard water stains and efflorescence. Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 gallon water.
  • Ammonia – Cuts through stubborn grease and dirt. Use 1⁄2 cup with 1 gallon hot water. Never mix with bleach.

Avoid using acidic solutions like vinegar, citrus or bleach for regular maintenance cleaning as this can damage and corrode concrete over time. Always test cleaners in an inconspicuous spot first.

Tips for Preventing Stains on Concrete Floors

Stopping stains before they happen is easier than trying to remove them later. Here are some tips:

  • Install walk-off mats at entrances to prevent dirt and grit from being tracked in.
  • Clean up spills immediately to prevent discoloration.
  • Use drip pans and adsorbent mats under machinery prone to leaks.
  • Avoid letting vehicles drip oil or gas on the concrete. Clean drips quickly.
  • Seal untreated concrete surfaces with a penetrating sealer to create a protective barrier.
  • Apply a wax coating on garages and workshops to make oil stains easier to clean.

With frequent cleaning and these preventative steps, you can keep bare concrete looking like new for years.

Troubleshooting Tough Stains on Concrete

While regular mopping with a pH-neutral cleaner tackles most dirt, concrete inevitably gets some stubborn stains. Here’s how to remove common offenders:

Tire marks – Scrub with a citrus or alkaline based cleaner using a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly.

Oil and grease – Spread baking soda over the stain and let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing. Or use an industrial degreaser.

Paint and adhesive – Try scraping off fresh paint drips carefully with a putty knife. For dried paint or glue, use a solvent like lacquer thinner applied sparingly with a cloth.

Rust stains – Mix oxalic or citric acid powder with just enough hot water to make a spreadable paste. Apply paste and wait 1-2 hours before rinsing.

Efflorescence – Mix 1 part white vinegar to 20 parts water and scrub with a stiff brush. For heavy buildup, use an efflorescence remover.

Algae and mildew – Scrub with a solution of oxygen bleach and hot water. Outdoor concrete may need a sodium hypochlorite solution.

Chewing gum – Freeze gum with an ice cube for brittleness. Then chip off with a plastic scraper. Avoid damaging sealers.

Wine and coffee stains – Lightly go over the stain with an alkaline cleaner and non-abrasive scrub pad. Avoid excessive scrubbing.

If you have a stain you can’t identify or concrete discoloration that cleaning doesn’t fix, consider consulting a professional concrete cleaner. They have experience addressing unusual staining issues.

How to Clean Concrete Floors: FAQs

Cleaning and caring for concrete floors isn’t difficult, but it helps to have answers to some common questions:

How often should you mop concrete floors?

For residential settings, aim to thoroughly mop concrete floors every 1-2 weeks. Higher traffic areas like entryways may need cleaning every few days. Use a dry mop or broom for quick daily touch ups. Mopping too frequently with water can damage concrete over time.

What’s the best mop for concrete floors?

Choose an industrial strength mop with a microfiber or rayon cover. Chenille mop pads also work well. Replace pads often to prevent redepositing grime. Avoid sponge mops, which tend to smear wet dirt.

Can you use vinegar to clean concrete floors?

White vinegar safely removes hard water buildup and efflorescence. However, vinegar’s acidity makes it a poor choice for routine maintenance cleaning. Stick to pH-neutral cleaners and save vinegar for occasional heavy-duty cleaning. Rinse thoroughly.

How do you clean sealed concrete floors?

Sweeping or dry mopping is usually sufficient for sealed concrete. For a deeper clean, use a pH-neutral cleaner diluted with water. Avoid harsh chemicals or acidic products that could degrade the sealant prematurely. Reapply sealer if needed.

What removes oil stains from concrete?

For oil drips or car fluid stains, sprinkling on absorbent ingredients like baking soda or kitty litter can help draw out the oil. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before sweeping. For older stains, use a citrus-based degreaser and scrub with a brush.

How do you get concrete floors shiny?

Regular mopping and removing any waxes or coatings allows concrete’s natural shine to show through. For extra gloss, concrete polishing is also an option. This mechanical grind and buffs the surface to a glossy finish. Another option is applying concrete wax by floor buffer.

Can you use bleach to clean concrete?

Avoid bleach or other chlorine-based cleaners on indoor concrete floors as it can react with impurities and cause discoloration. Outdoors, a diluted 1:10 bleach-to-water solution can help kill algae or moss growth. Rinse thoroughly.

Maintaining Clean and Stain-Free Concrete Floors

With the right techniques, it’s easy to keep concrete floors looking pristine:

  • Sweep or dry mop daily to prevent a dirt buildup that’s harder to remove.
  • Act quickly on spills to avoid stains setting in.
  • Stick to pH-neutral cleaners formulated for concrete floors.
  • Mop floors regularly based on traffic, wiping up excess moisture.
  • Reseal concrete periodically to prevent permanent staining.
  • Remove outdoor debris like leaves frequently to prevent decaying vegetation from staining.
  • Use walk-off mats and drip pans to minimize dirt and fluids tracked indoors.

Concrete stands up well to heavy use, but it does need proper care. Taking the time for routine maintenance cleaning will keep your concrete floors in excellent shape for decades.

So there you have it – everything you need to know to clean concrete floors like a pro! With the right supplies and techniques, you can easily remove stains and restore the beautiful sheen.