How To Remove Stains From Concrete Floors

Concrete flooring is a substantial, durable and classic flooring choice for outdoor and indoor living spaces. It can offer a modern or industrial look to a home or simply be an even expanse for outdoor uses.

Modern interior of a living room in a house
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Concrete flooring is a substantial, durable and classic flooring choice for outdoor and indoor living spaces.

Whatever you're using your concrete floor for, it's inevitable that this seemingly impenetrable surface will become stained. Gunk from motors and vehicles, grease from grills and outdoor cooking, wine and weather can all contribute to unsightly stains appearing on the pristine surface of your concrete flooring.

When a stain occurs on this durable flooring, the right concrete stain remover can lift the unwanted substance from the porous layers.

Homemade Concrete Stain Remover

Harsh chemicals can damage concrete, so homeowners often reach for homemade cleaners. They can be particularly effective if the stain is fresh.

For a gentle cleaner for simple stains, mix a gallon of warm water and a 1/8 cup of dishwashing liquid. This should clean up any substance that could cause future stains if left to be ground into the concrete.

Fresh stains should be doused with baking soda. Sweep or vacuum up the baking soda and continue to clean with a mix of a 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1 gallon of warm water and 1/8 cup of dishwashing liquid. This also removes odors that can collect on outdoor concrete slabs from animals or cooking grease.

Cleaning Untreated Concrete Flooring

If you have an untreated concrete floor, you should be careful about what type of concrete cleaner you use. Commercial concrete floor cleaners can typically be used to clean painted, sealed or untreated surfaces. Always check a small, inconspicuous area of the concrete first before applying it to a stain in a visible spot.

Make sure no residue from the commercial cleaner is left behind when you're done cleaning the area. This can cause issues with the sealant, discoloration or further staining of the concrete flooring.

Wine Stain on Concrete

If you regularly entertain outdoors, a wine spill usually comes with the territory. To remove a wine stain on concrete, wipe up the wine and rinse the spot immediately. If a stain remains, add a few drops of tea tree oil and glycerin to a few quarts of water and scrub it into the stain. Allow that to sit for up to 30 minutes before rinsing again. If the stain is stubborn, repeat this process a few times. The glycerin should remove serious stains.

Vinegar Stains on Concrete

Other acid-based liquids, such as vinegar, can damage a concrete surface. If you have a white vinegar stain on concrete, use a mild detergent, warm water and a scrubbing sponge to clean the area immediately.

Any acid-based products, such as lemon juice and vinegar, actually etch into the concrete. A small handheld sanding tool can sand away a white vinegar stain on concrete, which will then need to be resealed. For larger stains, an orbital sander can remove the stain.

Acid-based stains can eat away at concrete, so they should be cleaned quickly, as this can cause structural damage if water seeps under the vulnerable surface.

Concrete Floor Cleaning Tips

To keep untreated concrete from getting stained, you may want to give it a coat of sealant. This method will protect the integrity, look and feel of the concrete flooring while keeping stains at bay.

Never use a wire brush on concrete. This can cause further damage and scrape marks.

With proper care and regular maintenance, a sealed concrete floor should last for years unmarred by the spills and stains that inevitably come with a busy life.


Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.