How to Clean and Seal Concrete to Make It New Again

How do you make concrete look new again? Can you clean anything off concrete? Many homeowners find themselves asking these questions at some point. Fortunately, most stains can be cleaned off concrete with the right tools and methods. This guide will explain how to remove some common stubborn substances from concrete. Also, it covers some ways you can protect concrete from future stains.

Concrete Cleaning: How to Remove the Most Stubborn Substances

You can easily remove light debris and dirt with a garden hose and sprayer. For things like oil, grease, paint, and staining products, the process can be a little more involved. With any chemicals, be sure to use proper protective equipment. Also, always read and follow instructions for safety precautions on specific products you use.

How to Clean Paint off Concrete

To remove paint from cement, you will need paint stripper. It must be mixed with an absorbent substance. Simple and affordable options are baby powder and fine clumping or clay kitty litter. Mix the substance with the paint thinner until they create a paste. Using a sponge or brush, apply the mixture over the paint stain. Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. After that, try scraping it off with a paint scraper. You may need to repeat the process for stubborn stains. Apply some scouring powder, and use a firm scrub brush to brush away any residue. Rinse the concrete thoroughly with water.

How to Clean Rust off Concrete

If you are wondering how to remove rust from concrete, you have two options. Many people prefer the eco-friendlier method of using white vinegar to remove rust from concrete. Generously pour white vinegar directly onto the stain. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Using a hard-bristled scrub brush, scrub the area. Thoroughly rinse the concrete. You may need to repeat the process once. If the stain does not come out, the second option is a rust-removing chemical made for concrete.

How to Clean Grease, Oil, or Gasoline off Concrete

Transmission fluid, gasoline, ice melt products, and other oils can stain a concrete driveway. Trying to remove oil stains from a driveway with water alone is ineffective. Purchase some fine-textured clumping or clay kitty litter to clean away the stain. Pour it liberally over the stain or stains. You can let it sit for as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight for large, stubborn stains. Use a good laundry detergent or dish detergent to pour over the litter, and scrub the area with a firm brush. Rinse thoroughly, and repeat the process if there is a stubborn stain. Only resort to chemicals if this method fails after a few tries. You can find several concrete and driveway cleaning products for stubborn grease stains.

How to Clean Mold, Mildew and Water Stains off Concrete

When it comes to mold and mildew, you need significant force to get rid of them. Whether you need pressure washing or power washing depends on the extent of the mold. For a large driveway that has significant moss, mold, or debris, power washing is more effective. However, pressure washing is the ideal solution if the staining is not too extensive. This is because power washing uses hot water and high force, which is harsher than cold-water pressure washing. The heat and force together can be hard on concrete, masonry, and softer or porous surfaces. You can find pressure washers to rent for a day if you prefer not to buy one. Also, there are detergents you can use to power wash concrete to remove mold, mildew, or water stains.

How to Clean Other Stains off Concrete

If you spill any drinks or food on concrete, try to spray the spot immediately. Stray animals, mud, and foliage are a few other sources of frustrating stains. You can clean these with one-eighth of a cup of dish detergent, a gallon of water, and half a cup of baking soda. Scrape away any solid residue first. Next, pour the mixture over the stain. Using a firm brush, scrub it well until the stain starts to diminish. Rinse the area thoroughly, and repeat if necessary. You can also try this method for other types of older food or drink stains.

If the method is ineffective, try a concrete stain remover designed for the specific source of the stain. Regular concrete washing is a good way to minimize stubborn stains from these sources and some others. For indoor or basement floors made from concrete, try to use gentler methods before resorting to chemicals. Also, make sure the area is ventilated properly whenever you use chemicals indoors.

Why Does Concrete Stain so Easily?

Concrete stains easily because it is porous. Untreated concrete is especially prone to staining. Think of it like wood. If you have wood that is unfinished, it is more likely to be stained by oils or liquids. When it is finished, it does not stain as easily. The same applies to concrete. There are ways to treat indoor or outdoor concrete to minimize staining.

Minimize Stains and Protect Concrete With Sealing

Should you seal concrete? Is sealing concrete necessary? It is not imperative; however, it can help protect concrete and make it look better. So, what is the best concrete sealer for indoors or outdoors? There are several good concrete sealant options. Detailed steps for how to seal a concrete floor or how to seal a concrete driveway vary according to the product. However, the products come with complete instructions. There are four main categories of products to seal cement surfaces:

  • Penetrating sealers are for exterior concrete and react within the concrete’s capillaries to protect against penetrating moisture or chemicals.
  • Polyurethane sealers are for either interior or exterior surfaces and create a high-build protective film using solvents or water.
  • Acrylic sealers are for indoor or outdoor use and create a protective film that is thinner than polyurethane.
  • Epoxy sealers are for indoor or outdoor use and create a high-build protective or decorative film on concrete.

Most of these sealants are transparent or have a slight sheen. However, some epoxy products may be white or have other colors.

Important Tips for Sealing Indoor or Outdoor Concrete

What is the best concrete sealer? The answer depends on your preferences and needs. For example, epoxy and polyurethane are good for a thicker coating. Epoxy is better if you prefer color. Many people use colored epoxy to protect basement floors and make them attractive. If you want a thinner and clear layer, acrylic is better. Penetrating sealers are often preferable for concrete driveways.

When using any form of sealer, follow the application instructions carefully. How long does a concrete sealer take to dry? It depends on the type of sealer, humidity, and other factors. The sealer should be dry before you walk or drive on the concrete. Make sure the concrete is clean and completely dry before you apply a sealant. If there is residue or moisture below the sealer, it can reduce longevity.

Many people wonder what happens if you seal concrete too soon after laying new concrete. The sealer traps moisture, and the result is that the concrete will not be as strong or durable. Always make sure that new concrete is completely solidified before you apply any type of sealer.

Stock up on all the supplies you need at your nearest True Value store! Also, ask about pressure washer rentals if you need one.