How to Clean Concrete Floors (Sealed, Polished, Stained, and More)

By Harold K. Hardesty Updated December 31, 2020

Give your concrete floors a spotless finish

Typically, concrete is thought to be a suitable choice for the outdoors, such as the driveway or the patio. However, since stone is versatile and long-lasting, it has made its way to the indoors in most modern homes.

Now, it’s being used to give a contemporary touch to living spaces. Being a porous material, concrete attracts dust and grime. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, concrete flooring requires regular maintenance. Plus, the cleaning methods differ according to the style of flooring.

In this guide, I’ll discuss different methods to make your concrete floors as shiny as new.

Table of Contents

What Kind of Concrete Floors Do you Have?

Before choosing a method, you must determine the kind of flooring you have in your house.

Sealed

Being the most common type, sealed concrete floors are found in most homes. Sealing protects the floor surfaces from stains, liquid spills, and physical damage in high-traffic environments. Also, it imparts scratch resistance to the stone.
The floors may be coated using one of the following finishes: epoxy, silicate, acrylic, and urethane. Each finish has different applications and imparts unique properties to the concrete flooring.

Polished

Polished

Polished floors are made by grinding concrete to form a scratch-free surface resistant to chipping and denting. Additionally, the stone hardens during the polishing process, limiting the porosity. As a result, there’s a lesser chance of staining and dust-gathering.

Along with ease of cleanup, the maintenance for these floors is also a breeze – something to consider when choosing the flooring type for your home.

Mostly, polished concrete floors are not covered with a sealant. In some cases, they’ll have a glossy finish as they may be waxed or coated. Depending on your liking, the sheen intensity can be increased or lowered to make the floor look like polished stone or marble.

Stained

Stained/Metallic

As the name indicates, on such a floor, the concrete’s natural color is changed. You can choose from the wide range of available stains to alter the concrete’s natural gray. The stain leaves a permanent color on the stone, penetrating it fully.

Moreover, the stain forms a mottled and translucent detail. Such floors may be seal-coated or unsealed. However, leaving them unsealed makes them prone to physical and mechanical damage.

Stamped

Stamped

Concrete floors can also be patterned or stamped to look like wood, stone, and brick floors. In this technique, a certain pattern is imprinted on the wet concrete.
After this, the concrete is mostly stained. For higher durability, the process is followed by sealing.

Painted

Painted

As mentioned above, concrete is porous. Thus, you can use this feature to your advantage by creating unlimited flooring designs using paint. No matter how dull or lifeless the concrete looks, bright paint colors can liven it up.

If left unsealed, they tend to gather dirt and lose their luster quickly. Also, unsealed and unpolished concrete tends to peel.

Unsealed

Unsealed

Lastly, the concrete floors in your house may be unsealed. Since there’s no processing involved, these floors are most vulnerable to staining and hardening of dust particles.

However, an unsealed concrete floor is the closest to raw material and is easy on the pocket.

 

Identifying The Floor

You might have a vague idea about the kind of floor in your living space, but that’s not enough to select a cleaning method. Instead, you need to find out if the concrete is sealed or unsealed. The identification process is pretty simple and fool-proof.

First off, drop some water on the floor. A little liquid does the job, so there’s no need to go overboard with a bucketful.

Then, wait for about twenty minutes. Now, examine the area. If you see beaded water, it’s clear that your concrete floor has a sealant protecting it from spills. However, if the liquid has seeped into the concrete and darkened it, it’s safe to assume that the surface is unsealed.

Depending on the type of floor you have, you can choose between four cleaners:

How To Clean Sealed Concrete Floors?

Sealing makes concrete floors non-porous, protecting them from excessive staining. That’s why the cleaning process for these floors is simple.

What You’ll Need

You should clean your sealed floors every week for the best results.

1.Remove Dirt and Debris

Start by mopping or vacuuming the floor to remove dust particles. When vacuuming, make sure to use the appropriate tool for stone floors.

2.Make the Solution

Next, make a solution with two to three teaspoons of dish soap and a gallon of warm water. Make this solution in a bucket as it will make it easier to wet the mop.

3.Wet Mop the Floors

Now, dip the wet mop into this solution and start from one side of the floor. Make sure to cover the whole area. Then, rinse it with clean water to remove the soapy residue. Let the floors air dry before allowing foot traffic or putting the furniture back.

Tips and Warnings

iamge icon

  • If there are sticky marks on the floor, treat them using baking soda and coconut oil paste. Mix both the ingredients in equal parts and apply this paste to the sticky spots. Wait for ten minutes and rub the spot with a paper towel to remove the mark.
  • For stains, make a paste using three parts of cornstarch and one part of hydrogen peroxide. Apply this cleaning solution to the stain and let it sit overnight. The paste will dry in a few hours. In the morning, scrape the paste off, rinse the surface, and let it dry.
  • Reseal your floors every six to ten years, depending on the foot traffic in your house.
  • Adding an excess of the cleaning solutions can streak the floors. Avoid doing that.

Cleaning Non-Decorated Sealed and Polished Concrete Floors

Since these floors are sealant-coated and polished, keeping them clean isn’t too much of a trouble. Plus, they’re resistant to most stains, reducing the elbow grease in the chore.

What You’ll Need

Step by Step Instructions

When cleaning non-decorated sealed floors, you won’t have to deal with many stubborn stains. In an unfortunate instance that you come across sticky marks or old stains, you can use the same tips mentioned in the previous method to remove them.

1.Sweep the Floors

First off, use a dust mop to clean the floors. Doing this removes dust and debris particles that may later scratch the floor.

If you skip this step, you’ll end up with muddy pools on the floor once you go over it with a wet mopping pad.

2.Prepare the Cleaning Solution

In a bucket, add a few drops of a mild cleaner. You can also use readily available cleaning products such as vinegar, which is recommended for indoor use on sealed stone. Mix it to water at 1:8 and add a few drops of essential oils to neutralize the smell.

3.Begin Mopping

Dip the mop into the bucket and start from one corner. Cover a three-square-foot area at once before dunking the mop into the bucket again. Do not use an excessively wet mop on the floor as it will create puddles.

4.Rinse

Once you’ve cleaned the entire surface, throw away the murky solution. Fill the bucket with warm water and repeat Step 3 – but with clean water this time. Gather all the soapy remains from the floor.

5.Dry

Lastly, let the floors dry for a few hours before walking on them again. You can also turn on the fans or open the windows to make them dry faster.

Tips and Tricks

iamge icon

  • Do not saturate the mop with water or detergent. Instead, wring the mop well before putting it on the floor.
  • Divide the floor into smaller sections for easier cleanup. Follow the same trajectory for cleaning and rinsing afterward.
  • If you’re using vinegar, remove the smell by adding a few drops of lemon juice or your favorite essential oil to the mixture.

Cleaning Painted or Stained Concrete Floors

Although this process is pretty similar to cleaning non-decorated flooring, it requires some extra wariness when choosing the right cleaner for the job. Chlorine and other harsh chemicals may react with the paint, causing peeling or bubbling.

If you’re using a commercial cleaner, make sure it’s suitable for stained or painted floors. The reaction can occur even with a sealant, so it’s crucial to select an appropriate cleaner.

What You’ll Need

Step by Step Instructions

For painted floors, it’s better to use a microfiber mop rather than a regular one. Simply stick a washable microfiber pad onto the mop, and you can clean it in the washing machine later.

1.Dust Mop the Floor

Regardless of the type of floor, you have to start by dusting the surface. You can either use a mop or a broom. In any case, remove all excess dirt and debris, especially from the corners.

2.Make a Cleaner

Prepare the cleaning solution by adding a few drops of laundry detergent or another mild cleaner in a bucket of water. Remember: putting too much cleaner can leave streaks while mopping.

3.Mop Away

Now, soak the microfiber mop with the solution and wring it out. Do not spread excess liquid on the floor. Start mopping in smaller sections and eventually cover the whole floor.

4.Rinse and Dry

Finally, rinse the floors. Doing this will rid the floor of soapy residue and dry suds that may leave dust spots later. Let the floors air-dry. Alternatively, you can use a towel to soak up the remaining moisture.

Tips and Warnings

iamge icon

  • Tend to liquid spills and food stains as quickly as possible. If the spot has already left a mark, dab a drop or two of a mild cleaner onto it and scrub gently. Rinse the area and let it dry.
  • Don’t use bleach or ammonia(1) on painted floors.
  • Likewise, vinegar might be a good choice for floors with a top layer of protection, but you should never use it on painted or stained stone.

How To Clean Unsealed Concrete Floors or Exterior Concrete?

Unsealed floors are the hardest to clean because they don’t have any sealant or polish to reduce permeability. Instead, they’re overly porous and retain stains easily.

With proper methods, you can remove some spots and marks. But it’s difficult or even impossible to remove rust stains that have set in. Thus, you should give immediate attention to stains and spills on unsealed stone.

What You’ll Need

Step by Step Instructions

Since exterior areas are in direct contact with dirt and face harsher conditions, cleaning them requires additional effort. But don’t worry, I’ll cover that later in this method.

1.Make the Solution

After sweeping the floors, make a solution by adding three to four tablespoons of a washing powder to a gallon of water.

2.Mop the Floor

Dip a mop in the bucket and start mopping the area. Afterward, rinse the surface to remove suds and soapy residue. Use the same mop to rinse small sections of the floor, wringing it as you move along. Lastly, let the floors dry before subjecting them to foot traffic.

3.Exterior Concrete

You should try cleaning the driveways or patio floors every month as they’re exposed to car oil, tire marks, plant stains, harsh weather, and grease. Since the stains are most likely tougher, it’s best to use an enzymatic or acidic cleaner for removing them. Trisodium phosphate is a great option for general stains.

Tips and Warnings

iamge icon

  • For grease spots, sprinkle a bit of kitty litter or cornstarch on the grease and let it sit for 24 hours. Then, vacuum it away. You can also use sawdust and sweep it away after 24 hours.
  • To remove dry stains, wet the area. Put a few drops of a mild cleaner on the stain and let it sit for 45 minutes. Then, pour boiling water on the affected area and scrub using a bristle brush. Finally, mop the floor with clean water.
  • Do not use vinegar on unsealed garage floors as it will eat away the material, etching it beyond repair.
  • Deal with tire marks using a degreaser. Apply it to the area and scrub the suds. Let the cleaner work its magic for up to six hours. Then, rinse the floors and let them dry.
  • If you’re using harsh products to clean the floor, cover the lower walls to protect them from splashing.
  • Never use a wire scrub brush or metal-bristled tools to clean concrete. They can cause rusting by wedging into the grout lines.

Let The Stone Cleaning Begin

Being affordable and durable, concrete is becoming an increasingly popular flooring choice among homeowners. It might seem tough, but like other materials, it needs proper maintenance for a longer lifespan.

If you use the right methods and tools, your floors will last over a decade. Stay on the top of your cleaning game, and you won’t have any trouble. Now, you can identify the kind of floor you have in your home and clean it accordingly. Let me know:

Share your cleaning tips and tricks with me in the comments.

About the Author

Harold K. Hardesty

Harold is a Flooring Specialist at TheHouseWire, educating people on the flooring by writing guides about the topic. He is a well-seasoned flooring specialist with experience in the industry for nine years.

Related Reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *