If you find yourself facing unsightly stains on finished or unfinished concrete, you might think that those stains will be there forever. Luckily, it's usually possible to get rid of them. Depending on the type of stain and its age, you can often remove them with just a bit of effort.
In a lot of cases, you'll already have the cleaning products you need to tackle concrete stains in your bathroom and kitchen cupboards!
Before you pull out the chemicals to tackle your concrete stains, identify what you're dealing with. Do you have an oil or rust stain on your driveway? Paint on your garage floor? Different stains respond better to certain cleaners.
Once that's sorted, clean and prep your surface. Sweep up any dirt or debris in the area around the stain, and wipe or spray the area down with water.
Stains like mold and mildew, and even some grease and oil spots, can be forceably removed with a pressure washer. This high-powered machine is perfect for getting into the tiny divots in poured concrete, blasting many stains to kingdom come.
If the intense water pressure alone isn't doing the trick, get an attachment that lets you add cleaning solution before the water leaves the nozzle. And don't fret: you don't need to go out and buy your own pressure washer. Many home stores rent them by the hour or the day.
One of the easiest ways to remove stains from concrete is one that most people already have in their homes. A simple mix of plain dish soap and hot water can banish many recent or minor stains.
Dip a wire brush in the soapy water and scrub at the stain. If your regular dish soap doesn't seem to be isn’t strong enough, try adding some isopropyl alcohol for a punch of cleaning power.
Baking soda is an excellent option if your unfinished concrete gets stained. Concrete is porous, and before it's finished, it's very eager to suck up whatever gets spilled on it.
When water with baking soda is scrubbed over these nooks and crannies, it expands in them and shoves out the mess. Use a small wire brush to scrub out any stains from unfinished concrete. For hard-to-remove stains, let your baking soda and water mixture sit undisturbed overnight before scrubbing.
Rust is another common stain you'll find on concrete, but plain old white vinegar can fix this one! Because vinegar is mildly acidic, it eats away at rust stains, but it's not so low on the pH scale that it damages the material.
If you're dealing with particularly stubborn stains, combine vinegar and baking soda to make a thick paste. Leave the solution to sit before scrubbing with a wire brush. If you don't have vinegar at home, pure lemon juice is another option.
Some of the most common stains found on concrete, especially on driveways, come from vehicle oil drips and leaks. The best way to remove any oil-based stain is to use a citrus-based cleaner.
If you'd rather skip the run to the store for a synthetic chemical-heavy option, you can make one at home. Combine fresh-squeezed lemon juice with baking soda to make a runny paste. For large or really tough oil stains, heavily apply the solution and then leave it overnight. Scrub the area the following day, and see your all-natural handiwork shine.
Using bleach is a great way to remove organic stains like weeds, dirt, and algae from concrete. Bleach kills the organic matter and helps slow the regrowth. Just make sure you're wearing gloves and a mask for this cleaning project—bleach can burn your skin, and worse.
Also, make sure not to mix bleach with any other cleaners. There's always a chance they contain ammonia, and when these two ingredients mix, the fumes can be deadly.
If your concrete is sporting paint splashes after you redo the outside of the house, pick up a can of paint thinner to tackle your concrete cleaning project. This method works to remove paint stains from both sealed and unsealed concrete.
If the driveway is unsealed, scrub the stains with the paint thinner and a wire brush to ensure you get in all the divots.
If you don’t have any simple items on hand or have a tough stain that won’t come out, you might need a specialty concrete cleaner. Home stores abound with these cleaners, which note the specific stains they're most capable of removing.
The ingredients will vary depending on the brand and purpose. Choose a mild cleaner and test an area first to ensure it won't discolor or otherwise alter the concrete.
Once you’ve done the work to identify and remove your problem stain, take steps to prevent stains in the future. Make sure your concrete is sealed completely, which helps prevent dirt and grime from settling into the porous holes.
Sweep or wipe away dirt and debris after every project—and every windstorm; the longer these materials sit, the more likely they are to stain your concrete. If you notice your car is leaking oil, remove the stains promptly and avoid parking in the driveway until the problem is resolved.