Concrete Care & Cleaning: Plus Suggestions For Lifting Stains

Sometimes beverages are spilled on patios, or mildew, moss and white salt spots develop (especially when located in shade or humid environments).

Here’s a handy tip sheet detailing a few ways you can wash that up with some DIY recipes 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 cement with permanent scratches or leave behind rust spots.

Recipes & Homemade Cleaners

General Remedy:

  • 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 scour with a stiff broom, be aware that vinegar can affect surrounding plant life. Rinse. 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 get rid of stubborn spots. If you don’t have one, consider renting the equipment for a day since the cost is reasonable and well worth it!

To Brighten & Whiten: (good for driveway maintenance) Spray a layer of undiluted vinegar over driveway, use a nylon bristle broom to work it in. Wait for a few hours before hosing off.

Stain Removers

If the above recipes and tips don’t do the trick, try the options below.

Coffee, Wine & Beverages:

  • Wet the spot to moisten the surface then squirt liquid dish detergent directly on top. scour with a stiff bristle brush, rinse clear.
  • You can use a 50/50 mix of vinegar/water for more muscle.

Berry:

  • Method #1: A poultice of flour and hydrogen peroxide can be applied, cover with plastic wrap and tape all edges to concrete. Wait for 48 hours then sweep away when dried. If poultice does not draw up the splotch, 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.

Grilling/Grease Splatters:

  • 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 grease, leave overnight to dry then remove and scrub clean.

You can also try a bottle of blue Dawn (regular dish soap) or WD40.

Salt or White Patch:

  • If you catch this quickly, simply sweep 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 protective clothing and eyewear.

Moss, Mildew, Mold & Algae:

  • Sweep well with a stiff bristle broom then moisten cement. Spray with a solution of 4 parts water, 1 part bleach, wait for about 10 minutes then scrub with hot soapy water. Rinse well.
  • 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 if things are especially stubborn.

Rust:

  • Moisten slightly then squeeze fresh lemon juice over the spot (saturating it completely). Let set for 5 minutes then scour with a brush. Let set for another 5 minutes then rinse off. Repeat if needed.
  • Vinegar: Pour over area and proceed as above for lemon juice.

Oil:

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: Wet the splotch then squirt a bit of liquid dish detergent directly on top then scour with a brush. Rinse. Repeat if needed.
  • Option #2: Scrub with mineral spirits then top with cat litter to dry overnight.
  • Option #3: Combine 1 cup TSP (trisodium phosphate) & one gallon water, apply and leave for about 20 minutes. Scrub then rinse.

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