Floor cleaners that are pH-neutral are made mostly for mild cleaning of unsealed concrete, particularly if it has no dirt or soil embedded in it. They can be used on both interior and exterior structures as long as the dirt and stains aren’t too bad.
How they work. These floor-cleaners should be spread liberally on the concrete and then you can scrub the floor lightly. Afterward, mop or vacuum up all of the residue, followed by a good rinse with clean water.
Where to get them. Hardware stores, janitorial supply stores, and concrete companies usually have the pH-neutral floor cleaners. You can also find them online.
If your stain or dirt is soluble in an acidic solution, you can use acidic cleaners to remove it. If you have white, salt-like stains called efflorescence on your concrete, acidic cleaners are what you need. Efflorescence is usually caused by exposure to hard water or anything that has a high salt content.
How they work. Since acid is the main ingredient in these cleaners, it is always best to rinse the area thoroughly with clean water after you use it. Some scrubbing or additional applications is often required and you may also want to consider using a deck sealer afterward.
Where to get them. Be careful when choosing over-the-counter cleaners because a lot of them do not contain acid. Acidic cleaners are mostly found in concrete specialty stores.
These are most effective when you need to remove oil or grease from a concrete floor. The oil or grease spot is broken down and emulsified by alkaline cleaners, making it easy to eliminate afterwards.
How they work. You can use alkaline cleaners either full-strength or diluted with most jobs requiring only the latter. For deep or very old stains, full strength can be used. Always wash with plenty of clean water afterwards. The cleaners also need some time to sit on the stain because the longer they stay on it, the easier the stain is to remove.
Where to get them. Alkaline cleaners are found mostly in concrete specialty stores as well as some online stores that sell cleaning products specifically made for concrete.
Also known as oxidation cleaners, these types of cleaners are relatively new and use enzymes to attract and break down the stain so that it is easier to remove. They actually feed on grease, oil, and other hydrocarbon-based stains, which is one of the reasons why they are so effective.
How they work. The two main advantages to using this type of cleaner are:
(1) It requires no water to finish the process.
(2) It leaves behind little to no residue for you to clean. If you have especially large or severe stains, you may have to reapply it to remove them completely.
Where to get them. These cleaners are found at hardware or home improvement stores as well as janitorial supply stores. They are a little harder to find than other cleaners.
Ground-in dirt can be difficult to get out of concrete and requires a concrete cleaner especially made for this purpose. Dirt includes basic soil that you find in people’s yards and soil that is mixed with other items such as sand, crushed rock, and clay, among other things. Even dust from the environment can leak onto your concrete floors and become embedded there.
This is perhaps the most common item found on concrete floors and it comes from vehicles, lawnmowers, bicycles, and many other items that have a tendency to leak oil onto the surface of the concrete. Grease and oil are also common because people often work in their garages repairing their cars and performing other outdoor tasks that can leak oil and grease everywhere.
If you have pets, it means that you’ll have to clean your concrete floors more often. Concrete floors are porous, which means that both urine and odor can sink into them and remain there for a very long time. This is why regular cleaning of the concrete is essential whenever you have pets.
Efflorescence makes the concrete look textured and grainy. It sometimes has a whitish look that is unattractive to homeowners. It is caused by soil that is highly alkaline, hard water, or soil that has a lot of salt in it. Its look is white and powdery and it usually requires a very strong solution to be removed.
A super heavy-duty cleaner is needed to remove drops and splats of paint that can be found on your concrete floor. These are tough stains to remove and require more than just a regular concrete cleaner, again, reading the packages on the cleaners should tell you which one is best for these types of stains.