The best ways to clean a concrete floor

Concrete is a sturdy material used for indoor and outdoor floors. It’s durable, easy to clean and resistant, but not impervious, to stains. It’s porous, so it soaks up dirt, spills and can also harbour mildew. Tough as concrete is, it needs periodic scrubbing.

Here’s how to clean concrete, both indoors and out.

Regular cleaning

Interior concrete floors, whether sealed, polished, stained, or painted need to be cleaned at least every two weeks, or as needed when dirt and grime start to build up. Outdoor concrete, which is usually unsealed, should be deep cleaned once a year but ensure stain removal is done whenever necessary to retain an unblemished surface.

Inspect the floor for cracks or chips and make any necessary repairs before beginning the cleaning process and remove any furniture, tools, housewares and other items. To clean concrete surfaces safely and effectively, begin with the least toxic cleanser possible and only use more aggressive solutions as, and if, required.

For indoor surfaces, clear away waste, dirt and dust by vacuuming or sweeping the surface. Mix the cleaning solution with warm water and use a microfibre mop that is only slightly damp with the cleaning solution. Do not use excessive moisture. Rinse the floor thoroughly with a mop dampened with plain water, to remove any soapy residue, then air-dry the floor.

A power washer is the easiest way to clean concrete outdoors. It will blast away dirt, mildew and grime in a few hours. Spray the surface with a detergent and use a stiff-bristle brush to scrub it into the concrete. Never use a metal-bristle brush as the metallic fibres can get trapped in the surface of the concrete and rust. Move the wand from one side, using the same motion as if mopping a floor.

Removing stains

Stains can come from grease, food and beverage spills, tyre marks, rust and mildew, but most are easy to remove using the following methods:

  • Grease stains: sprinkle the stained area with a layer of corn starch or dry kitty litter and let it remain on the stain for one to three days to absorb the oil. Vacuum away, then repeat if needed.
  • Food and beverage stains: Mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with one litre of water. Using a stiff-bristled brush, apply the mixture and scrub well. If the stain is oily, apply the liquid directly onto the stain and scrub. Rinse well with clean water to get rid of any soapy residue.
  • Tyre marks: Wet the area and use an alkaline degreaser on the stain. Scrub up the suds and allow it soak for four to six hours. Rinse off and continue with a normal floor clean.
  • Rust stains: If the rust stains are light, pour or spray distilled white vinegar or lemon juice on the stains and let it work for 30 minutes. Scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush and rinse. If the stains are large and dark, use a commercial rust remover that contains oxalic acid.
  • Mildew stains: Wearing rubber gloves, mix two tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent, two tablespoons of trisodium phosphate (TSP) and one litre of water. Scrub the mildewed area with a stiff-bristled brush and the cleaning solution, then rinse well. For extremely heavy mildew stains, use a chlorine bleach and water solution instead. Mix one cup of bleach to four litres of water and scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush before rinsing.
  • Dry stains: Slightly moisten the area and add a few drops of detergent. Allow to soak for 45 minutes to lift the stain. Pour boiling water over and scrub with a medium-bristled brush. Then mop the area with clean water to remove any soapy residue.
  • Sticky marks: Mix equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda. Apply the solution and buff the area. Wait 10 minutes before rubbing the spot off with a paper towel or cleaning rag to remove the sticky marks. If the mark persists, apply again and follow up by scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Stains: Combine three parts of corn starch with one part hydrogen peroxide to create a paste-like texture. Spread the solution over the stain, leaving it to stand overnight. Scrape off the dried paste, rinse with water then clean as normal.
Proper Maintenance

Cleaning is a necessary step in maintaining concrete floors. Cleaning concrete the right way, can extend the lifespan of the surface and will ensure floors continue to look as good as new. To ensure a concrete floor is resistant to future stains, it is always advisable to apply a concrete sealant. Sealing will help prevent dirt, grime, and grease from penetrating the pores and make maintenance even easier. For expert advice, contact the Sephaku call centre on 0861 32 42 52 or speak to your technical representative for more information.

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