Concrete garage floors collect everything from mud and grime to old paint, oil and grease stains. Fortunately, concrete floors are fairly easy to clean as long as you use the right products and techniques. Here are some tips on how to clean a cement garage floor and how to deal with specific types of dirt and stains.
What You'll Learn Today
- Are Concrete Garage Floors Easy To Maintain?
- What’s The Best Cleaner For a Cement Garage Floor?
- Can I Use Acid To Clean A Cement Garage Floor?
- How To Clean A Cement Garage Floor?
- Should You Pressure Wash A Cement Garage Floor?
- How To Clean An Unsealed Cement Garage Floor
Are Concrete Garage Floors Easy To Maintain?
Concrete, what some people call cement, is the most common type of flooring material used in garages.
It’s popular because it is hard-wearing and easy to maintain. On most days, a quick sweep or vacuum is all you need to keep your garage floor clean.
It’s only occasionally that you’ll need to put in a bit more effort to scrub away grease and stains.
Keep in mind, however, that the ease of maintenance depends on the type of concrete floor.
A cement floor with a good quality sealer like epoxy is easy to maintain. It is impervious to fluids like water and oils. It doesn’t stain easily nor does it develop mold and mildew.
Furthermore, any dirt and stains on a sealed cement floor are easy to clean off since they do not penetrate deep below the surface.
On the other hand, an unsealed garage floor is a maintenance nightmare.
Because it soaks up everything, it easily develops mold, mildew, and stains. It’s also difficult to clean because dirt and fluids penetrate deep into the concrete.
If you have an unsealed cement floor, we have some tips further below on how to clean it. But the best thing to do is get it sealed. It’ll not only be easier to maintain; it’ll also last longer.
What’s The Best Cleaner For a Cement Garage Floor?
General Purpose Cleaners
Most general purpose cleaners designed for hard surfaces work well on concrete flooring. Just make sure the cleaner also doubles up as a degreaser to remove any grease and oil that inevitably collects on the garage floor.
The best cement floor cleaners are also effective on stains, tire marks, and rust.
To reduce the risk of etching and damaging your sealed cement floor, look for a pH neutral cleaner.
Another option is TSP or trisodium phosphate. TSP cleaner is highly effective on grease, stains and dirt, but you need adequate skin and eye protection to use it since it is hazardous.
We recommend using TSP only when other cleaners have failed to remove stains and grease from the concrete floor.
Not only is it dangerous to work with, it’s also bad for the environment. Only use it when tackling really tough stains.
If you don’t have a concrete floor cleaner, laundry detergent like Tide also works.
Mix it with warm water and apply it on the floor. Use a brush to scrub away at dirt and stains.
Laundry detergent can remove most stains, including oil and grease marks.
- For spot cleaning stains, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar works for most marks and stains.
- Borax is another good degreaser. Mix it with water then scrub the stained spots with the mixture.
- For rust marks, try lemon juice or white vinegar.
- A mixture of bleach, laundry detergent and warm water is good for general cleaning.
Can I Use Acid To Clean A Cement Garage Floor?
Acid is generally not safe for concrete floors, as it eats away at the concrete and can weaken it or make it more porous.
A mild acid like diluted vinegar is safe for a concrete floor, but don’t use anything stronger. Definitely stay away from muriatic acid as it can strip away the sealer on your garage floor, making your floor porous and susceptible to stains and damage.
For tough and stubborn stains, TSP is a safer option. Because it is alkaline, it doesn’t react with the concrete.
For general purpose cleaners and degreasers, pH neutral ones are the best.
How To Clean A Cement Garage Floor?
The following steps apply only to sealed concrete floors.
- Clear the garage by removing everything that can be removed. This includes your car, bikes, work tables, storage boxes, tools, and other stuff. This gives you easy access to the entire floor.
- Start by sweeping the floor with a broom. Then vacuum to remove fine dust the broom did not catch.
- Cover up anything that can be damaged by water or cleaning products. This includes electrical outlets and cabinets.
- Prepare your cleaning solution as directed on the label. For most cleaning products, you simply mix it with water (usually warm water) in a specified ratio.
- Pour the cleaning solution all over the garage floor, making sure it covers every inch. If the floor is really dirty and has grease stains, let the solution sit for 10-20 minutes before you begin scrubbing. Just make sure it doesn’t start drying.
- Use a stiff deck brush to scrub the floor.
- Once you’ve scrubbed the entire garage floor, use a garden hose or pressure washer (or other equipment) to rinse away the cleaner along with the dirt it’s collected. You can also use a squeegee to push the soapy water outside.
- Let the floor dry before putting everything back.
Tip 1: As the floor dries, it’s a great time to examine it for cracks or wearing. Check areas that may need to be filled or resealed.
Tip 2: When washing the garage floor, never let the cleaning solution dry on the floor before rinsing. This can re-deposit dirt and contaminants back onto the floor. If necessary, rinse one section immediately after scrubbing.
Should You Pressure Wash A Cement Garage Floor?
A pressure washer is safe for a cement garage floor, as long as you use it properly.
You can use an electric pressure washer with about 2,000 PSI of max pressure. But a gas pressure washer with 3,000 PSI or more will be faster and more effective on stains and grime.
Use the pressure washer to spread the cleaning solution on the floor. Mix the cleaning solution in the detergent tank then attach the low pressure nozzle to spray the cleaner.
After scrubbing the floor, the powerful spray of a pressure washer is great for rinsing. But be careful not to etch the concrete by using a nozzle that’s too powerful.
Stay away from the 0° nozzle as it can damage the floor, especially if you have a powerful gas pressure washer.
A 15° nozzle is adequate for a very dirty and stained concrete floor, while a 25° nozzle is suitable for less dirty floors and for rinsing.
Keep the nozzle a good distance away from the concrete floor – around 6-12 inches – and keep it constantly moving to avoid putting too much pressure on a single spot.
If you have drywall, it’s a good idea to apply tape or some other protective surface on the lower part of the wall to protect it from water damage when spraying with the pressure washer. .
Here’s a good video showing how to clean a garage floor with a pressure washer. As the video shows, adding a surface cleaner attachment to your pressure washer can make scrubbing so much easier and quicker.
How To Clean An Unsealed Cement Garage Floor
Because unsealed concrete easily absorbs dirt and stains, it’s important to sweep and vacuum as much dirt as possible from the garage floor before wetting it.
Otherwise, the dirt will soak into the floor along with the water.
- Clear the garage and then sweep away large debris. Follow it up with a vacuum. Use the patio or deck brush attachment with the vacuum to get any fine debris and dust left on the floor.
- Treat any stains and marks before washing the entire floor.
- For grease and oil spills, place cat litter or sawdust on them for several hours to absorb most of the oil.
- For stains, pour concrete floor cleaner or TSP mixed with water on the affected spots and leave the cleaner to soak for a few minutes. Then scrub with warm soapy water to lift the stains.
- If the floor is very dirty and stained, use a pressure washer to remove most of the dirt.
- Apply the cleaning solution a section at a time then scrub and rinse before moving to the next section. You can rinse with a garden hose or pressure washer (be careful about the pressure).
If you cannot seal the garage floor immediately, try to clean it regularly. This will prevent dirt and stains from setting into the concrete.
Be especially careful about leaky vehicles and equipment, as major oil stains are difficult to remove on unsealed concrete. If you know a certain piece of equipment like the lawn mower leaves grease stains, store it elsewhere or place a protective mat underneath it.