Cement is a durable and easy-to-maintain material. Although you usually need only water to remove loose dust and dirt from cement, sometimes you'll need a stronger cleaner to remove caked-on grime. You don't have to purchase a commercial cement cleaner—all you need is some borax and a gallon of water.
Cleaning Solution Recipe
The key to properly cleaning cement is having a detergent that can cut eaily through grease and grime—borax. Also known as sodium borate, borax is an emulsifier and is very effective in removing set-in stains from cement surfaces. To make the cleaning solution, you will need 1/2 cup of borax, 1 gallon of water, 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1 tbsp. of liquid dishwashing detergent. Mix the ingredients in a bucket, making sure to agitate it for at least three to four minutes with a long-handled brush or other tool. You also can pour the mixture into a spray bottle for easy application. If any settling occurs from the solution sitting too long, shake the spray bottle to remix it. You can find washing soda at hardware, home improvement and some grocery stores.
To use the cleaning solution, pour or spray it onto the cement surface and then use a long-handled brush to scrub the cement. If you are cleaning a small surface, use a sponge or scrubbing pad. For heavy, set-in stains, let the cleaning solution sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing the stain or spot with a sponge or brush. Rinse the cement surface with water to remove the solution and loose grime. Work in sections if you have a lot of cement to clean.
To maintain cement properly, clean it regularly with water to remove loose dust, dirt and debris. For deep cleaning, use the homemade cement cleaning solution. To protect your cement surfaces after cleaning, apply a high-quality sealer that is waterproof and has a stain-repelling agent. How often you will need to reapply sealer depends on whether your cement surface is walked on or worked on, as well as what it is exposed to, such as weather extremes or direct sunlight.
Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.