Cleaning Concrete & Stain Removal Tips
Sometimes beverages are spilled on patios, or mildew, moss and white salt spots develop (especially when located in shade or humid environments). Here are a few ways you can clean that up yourself along with tips for removing oil, rust, berry and other stains on concrete or cement slabs.
Before Getting Started:
- When using chemicals, soaps or solutions, test a small area first to make sure there’s no permanent discoloration or that the surface texture isn’t harmed.
- Use stiff brushes or brooms, but no wire bristles–these can etch a cement surface with permanent scratches or leave behind rust spots.
- Try a squirt of liquid dish soap per pail of hot water (suitable for light cleaning).
- Pour a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture over surface then scrub with a stiff broom, be aware that vinegar can affect surrounding plant life. Rinse with clear water. A few drops of liquid dish soap can be added for more muscle.
- Hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate and hot water also work well.
- If you have a pressure washer, this will fix things up in a flash. Start with a wide fan spray first then narrow as needed to remove stubborn spots. If you don’t have one, consider renting the equipment for a day since the cost is reasonable and well worth it!
- If the above recipes and tips don’t do the trick, try the options below.
Coffee, Wine & Beverages:
- Spray water on spot to moisten the surface then squirt liquid dish detergent directly on top. Scrub with a stiff bristle brush and hot water, rinse with clear water.
- You can use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water for more muscle.
- Method #1: A poultice of flour and hydrogen peroxide can be applied, cover with plastic wrap and tape all edges to concrete. Leave for 48 hours then brush away when dried. If poultice does not draw up the spot, reapply.
- Method #2: A poultice of powdered laundry detergent, water and a small capful of bleach. Proceed as with poultice above.
- Method #3: For large areas, try pressure washing with a 1:4 mixture of oxygen bleach and water.
- Option #1: Treat the same as Coffee & Beverage stains as noted above.
- Option #2: Make a paste of powdered laundry detergent and water, apply about 1/4″ thick to spot, leave overnight to dry then remove and scrub clean.
Salt or White Spots:
- If you catch this quickly, simple brush away with a stiff bristle broom or brush (even vacuuming can do the trick).
- If the stain is below the surface, try using a pressure washer (this can make a change in surface texture).
You can use muriatic acid and water (1:10) if all else fails, but this is strong stuff!
- You’ll find it at your local hardware store, follow directions carefully and wear protect clothing and eyewear.
Moss, Mildew, Mold & Algae:
- Brush well with a stiff bristle broom, moisten cement with clear water. Spray with a bleach & water solution (4 parts water, 1 part bleach), leave for about 10 minutes then scrub with a hot soap & water solution. Rinse well with clear water.
- Chlorine bleach can be used but will affect surrounding plant life, use oxygen bleach if available.
- Add a 1/2 cup of powdered laundry detergent to the pail of water & bleach if stains are especially stubborn.
- Moisten slightly with water then squeeze fresh lemon juice over the spot (saturating it completely). Let set for 5 minutes then scrub with a brush. Let set for another 5 minutes then rinse off with clear water. Repeat if needed.
- Vinegar: Pour white household vinegar over area and proceed as above for lemon juice.
Doing mechanical work on the driveway is convenient but lay down protective covering first if possible (tarps or sheets of cardboard will do the trick). If you’ve had an oil spill, cover as soon as possible with sand, kitty litter, table salt or talcum powder to soak up as much of the oil as possible (and prevent it from seeping deeper into the concrete or cement). Leave for 24 hours, sweep clear then proceed with one of the methods below:
- Option #1: Moisten spot with water, squirt a bit of liquid dish detergent directly on top then scrub with a brush. Rinse with water. Repeat if needed.
- Option #2: Scrub with mineral spirits then top with cat litter to dry overnight.
- Option #3: Apply TSP (trisodium phosphate) & water solution (1 cup tsp per gallon of water) and leave for about 20 minutes. Scrub then rinse with clear water.