Blemish management 101: We’re helping homeowners get their concrete back to looking brand new with these top stain removal tips and tricks.
We’ve all been there. You’re at home when you suddenly hear a thud and the ever popular “uh-oh” uttered by a family member or guest.
That can only mean a spill on your brand-new benchtop or polished concrete flooring.
If you act fast, you might be able to avert disaster. But if you’re left with a stain, you might also be left stressing about it.
The same problem can apply to car and curb appeal enthusiasts alike. Meant to take a beating from the elements, the last thing anyone wants to see is grease or oil stains on their new driveway or garage slab flooring. And while stains can feel permanent, they don’t have to be when you have the right technique and tools on hand.
If you want to learn more about concreting options, check out our resources:
1. What Are The Most Common Concrete Types?
2. How to Find the Best Concrete Contractor in Melbourne
3. Top Benefits of Hiring Professional Concrete Services
4. 5 Ways You Can Use Concrete in Your Garden
5. What Concrete Extension Types Can You Add To Your Home?
Sealed vs. unsealed concrete (and how it affects stain removal)
Concrete sealant is your best friend when it comes to stain prevention and clean up.
Recently and professionally sealed concrete should be protected from staining, meaning that you should be able to wipe up spills with a damp cloth without damaging the material below. In the case of oils or grease, dry cloth or using sawdust can lift the material off the sealed concrete without leaving a mark.
However, two pitfalls can affect homeowners.
- You never had your concrete properly sealed.
- It has been years and years since you last sealed your surfaces.
Sealants, like most other surface materials, can wear down over time and become less effective. This is especially true of high traffic surfaces like driveways or flooring. And since concrete itself is porous, meaning that it will hold liquids, any worn out spots in your concrete sealant can lead to stained spots in the future.
That’s why it’s always recommended to keep up with regular concrete sealing and maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about staining in the first place. But of course, this is not possible for everyone, and accidents do happen. So let’s move on to how to remove stains from concrete, as will inevitably be needed.
6 ways to remove stains from concrete
From curb appeal to countertops and anything in between, stained concrete can look like dirty concrete, no matter how you try to explain it away (or how many wet wipes you use on it). The good news is that nothing needs to remain permanent on your concrete and you have a variety of options to choose from depending on where your stain is located. Here are some of the most commonly used methods to remove stains from concrete.
#1: Go for a commercial cleaner
There are many products at your local hardware store that fit this description, but make sure that they are recommended for use on concrete. These are most helpful for external applications like concrete driveways and garage floors where grease and oil can run rampant.
Look for a specific driveway or concrete cleaners that are designed to remove grime and tire stains. These can usually be used either by diluting and brushing onto the affected area, or in tandem with a power washer. Just be sure to read the instructions on the specific product you choose.
#2: Mix it up in your kitchen
You might be surprised that the ingredients for cleaning up your concrete could be hiding in your pantry or under your sink. After you wipe up any loose debris or liquid, you can apply any number of home remedies. This is especially helpful for spot cleaning indoor surfaces like benchtops or flooring.
- Mix boiled water and dish detergent, then work into a gentle lather on the concrete surface.
- Try combining baking soda and hot water into a solution and apply with a mop.
- Pour white distilled vinegar directly on the stain, leave for 15 minutes, and then scrub away.
Keep in mind that as you are scrubbing and wiping, you should not use rough or wired brushes. While they might be temping, more grit does not equal less staining. In fact, it can equal less concrete as it wears away at the surface and does even more unwanted damage.
#3: Absorb leftover residue
See a stain in action? Absorb, don’t rub. Rubbing can press the liquid or substance into the pores of the concrete more deeply. Instead, rest a rag over the stain and let the material help lift as much of it as possible out of the substrate.
This also works great in garages or in driveways if you have access to material like sawdust. Sprinkle some on the affected area and wait 15-30 minutes. Then, sweep up and away to see just how much is left. Chances are that you’ll have a smaller spot to work on cleaning up after.
#4: Power wash it away
Sometimes brute force is the answer, but you need the right amount to avoid causing damage to the concrete. For outside stains like those on driveways and patios, you can use a power washer (often available for rental at a hardware store) to wash away stubborn stains. Just keep in mind that you should never use more than 3000 psi or you could risk cracking or damaging the concrete.
For exposed aggregate concrete, start with the regular pressure from your garden hose first. You might be surprised what will come up with standard pressure and a bit of commercial cleaner thrown into the mix. If you need to resort to a pressure washer, start at the lowest pressure you can and never go past 3000 psi.
Cleaning exposed aggregate concrete? Read our blog: How to Clean Exposed Aggregate Concrete
#5: Consider a steam mop
Back inside, where a pressure washer is simply a bad idea, consider using a steam mop. On unsealed (or worn down) concrete, the steam can activate in the concrete’s pores and bring up some of the staining material.
When using a steam mop, only use water on your flooring to clean. The steam will be powerful enough as you slowly work back and forth over the affected area. You should not add cleaners to the steamer itself. It’s also important to consider the temperature of the space. Applying ultra-hot steam to concrete near more delicate items like woods and porcelain could cause warping or cracking to the surrounding materials, especially where the temperatures are at extremes.
#6: Call for help
Sometimes, the toughest and most stubborn of stains need to be left to the professionals. A concrete service will be able to advise on the best way to remove the stains in your material with precision and expertise. While they could try some of the above techniques, they will also have extra tools on hand to help get the job done right.
Depending on the type of surface you have, a concrete service may recommend grinding and polishing to remove the affected material. They can reseal the area to make sure the concrete is not exposed to future staining. In other cases, patch work might be required to remove and replace a damaged portion, more likely in outside applications like driveways. The experts will be able to match your existing material and ensure a seamless and stain-free fit.
Looking to keep an exposed aggregate surface looking fresh and clean? Here’s how to maintain exposed aggregate concrete like the pros
How to prevent staining on concrete
In a nutshell, it’s all about vigilance. You don’t need to stand guard constantly over your benchtops, flooring, or patio to never let a drop touch the surfaces. Odds are, your sealed concrete will last the test of time rather well with minimal attention. But you’ll still need to take steps when a mess makes its mark, and with this, timeliness is everything.
After all, the faster you are able to notice a spill, the faster you are able to clean it up properly to prevent it from becoming a more permanent stain (and more of a hassle to remove). Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track moving forward with your concrete.
- Wipe up spills on counters and floors as they happen to prevent long-term marking.
- Use sawdust to absorb spilled oil and draw it out of porous materials in your driveway.
- Keep up with dust and debris in your driveway so that mildew staining doesn’t occur.
- Check your vehicles for leaks or drips to prevent stains in the first place on your garage floor.
Protect your concrete surfaces from stains with Concept Concrete
The team at Concept Concrete understands that your concrete surfaces are meant to be used and lived on. That’s why we bring professional, quality workmanship to every project, no matter how big or how small. Homeowners in Melbourne and the surrounds have turned to our family-run business over the years for help installing, maintaining, and repairing their concrete surfaces, and we look forward to helping you, too!
From stain removal to resealing and concrete grinding, we have the tools and professionals to get the job done right for you. Concept Concrete strives to keep every project hassle free and surprise free with onsite quotes and fast turn around times. Just call us on 1300 366 343 to learn more.