Cleaning concrete is simpler than you may think. There are many formulas and products that claim to be the best. Fact is that there are many ways that work and some are greener than others. While others are just plain stupid. Whether you are cleaning the patio, driveway, garage or basement, you want to achieve cleanliness without breaking the bank, your back or the the surface of the cement itself. Read on and start your cement cleaning right.
What NOT To Use
- Any product on the shelf of any store that claims to clean concrete. There may a few that actually work but at an extreme markup.
- Muriatic Acid – Biggest mistake ever! There is absolutely no reason to put muriatic acid on cement other than as a last ditch effort to remove efflorescence OR as a cement floor prep for a coating such as an epoxy. Muriatic acid does not clean cement at all. It will not clean anything. Muriatic acid just rips off the top layer of cement (or eyeballs).
Mechanical Cleaning Methods
- Elbow Grease – Stiff brooms and even specialty brushes can be used to scrub cement with cleaners. This will break your back but not your cement. Unfortunately manual scrubbing is the best practice all around even if following up with a power washer.
- Power Washer – Power washers are great for cleaning but can be harsh on things too. Cleaners and lower pressure/higher flow will generate safer results and clean the cement without destroying it.
Proper Chemicals For Cleaning Cement
Always consider where the wastewater will go! If it’s in a retention pond you need to be careful and use precaution.
- Bleach – Bleach in low concentrations works great along with several soaps or detergents to effectively clean cement. This should never be done in a confined space though.
- Dish Soap – This is actually much more environmentally dangerous than you’d think. If your runoff is going into where fish and wildlife live this is not a great idea.
- Alkaline products – There are several cleaning solutions, mainly professional strength that are similar to lye or contain lye. Sometimes they are used for fence cleaning and would come with a “neutralizer”, these would also work well on cement. Basically any alkaline cleaner, like bleach, will do a great job for how green it actually is. Lye is a natural component of dirt whereas dish soap is not. Dairy Queen Blizzards are also great but too much is a bad thing too.