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

By
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.
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Updated April 12, 2022

We’ll show you “concretely” how to clean your floors!

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

We’ll show you “concretely” how to clean your floors!

how to clean concrete floor

Concrete floors are an extremely durable material. That’s why there are a lot of good uses for concrete. Patio, basement, driveways or concrete garage floors – you name it.

However, maintaining concrete floors can be intimidating.

It’s actually easy to clean concrete floors. Just follow a few simple steps and the job will be done in no time.

How Often To Clean a Concrete Floor

The short answer is – regularly.

But how often that happens depends on how you want your floors to look:

  • If there’s a lot of activity, use a dust mop and vacuum daily. Especially if you have children and/or pets.
  • If there’s not much activity, clean them once a week.

And since wet mopping is more labor-intensive, just do it when the floors need it:

  • For high-traffic areas, this is probably weekly.
  • But for low-traffic ones, just mop them once a month.

Consider reapplying a protective coating on your sealed concrete floors when you notice they become harder. Or if water doesn’t bead easily on the surface.

For stained concrete floors, you need to re-wax them occasionally:

  • In high traffic areas: once a month, or every 5 weeks
  • In medium traffic areas: every quarter, or a couple of times a year
  • In low traffic areas: At least once a year

Before You Begin

While concrete looks like stone, it’s actually a mix of cement, aggregate, and water. So you might think you just need a bucket and wet mop. But cleaning concrete floors is in fact a little more complex.

Take Note

A floor’s concrete surface is usually bumpy and uneven. There are small pits and crevices which can trap loose dirt. In addition, concrete is porous, so dirt and liquids will penetrate the floor’s surface.

Therefore, follow one of the cleaning methods below that will get your floors completely clean.

Cleaning Polished Concrete Floors

Polished concrete floor is a concrete floor which professionals grind and hone to create a smooth finish. In other words, it’s a process similar to using a sander to smooth wood.

There are multiple steps to this process, including using different grinders to refine the finish. Some professionals will also add a hardener to make the top layer of the polished concrete stronger and keep it dust-free.

This densification and polishing process makes the floors look very shiny and last a long time.

However, you still need to take proper care. But because they’re simple to clean, you don’t have to wax them.

Still, consider using a sealer. This will make them easier to keep clean and prevent moisture and dirt from entering the surface.

What You’ll Need

Instructions

1. Sweep or Vacuum Your Floors

Clear all the dirt and dust off your concrete floor. Use a broom, dust mop, or vacuum for this step.

2. Use a Wet Mop and Rinse

Mop your floor with a natural cleaner like dish soap or a neutral commercial cleaning solution. One soap that is truly efficient on concrete floors is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. This liquid soap contains only natural ingredients and is gentle enough to be used on a variety of surfaces such as concrete. 

Afterward, use clean water to rinse the floor. That will help remove any residue left behind by the cleaner.

3. Polish Your Sealed Concrete Floors

First use the yellow diamond grit scrubbing pad. Attach it to your floor scrubber, spray a thin layer of water on your floor, and start buffing.

Work in areas of approximately 10 square feet and make multiple passes. By doing this, you’ll remove stains and scratches from the floor’s surface.

Once done, follow the same cleaning process with the green pad.

4. Apply a Sealer

Add a good floor sealer to keep your floors from staining.

Apply the sealer with a moss rubber squeegee or mop. Spread it evenly across the floor.

And if you want to spray the sealer instead, you can do that using a low-pressure sprayer.

Cleaning Stained Concrete Floors

Stained concrete floors (or decorative concrete floors) are different from polished because of how it’s made. As the name suggests, professionals add a stain to the concrete to make it look like stone.

There are different colors of stain, ranging from brown to rust. In addition, you can even stamp concrete to look like bricks.

To clean stained concrete, you follow the regular method but you add an extra step: waxing. Waxing goes on top of the sealer, and it helps protect the floor from the worst scratches and marks.

Just as with polished concrete, stained floors don’t require a sealer. But it’s highly recommended.

What You’ll Need

Instructions

1. Use a Dust Mop or Vacuum

Remove all the loose debris. Use a vacuum or microfiber mop.

2. Use a Damp Mop and Rinse

First, dilute your chosen cleaner. For this, always follow the instructions on the label.

Then use your mop to spread the cleaning solution over your floors.

On this type of floor, you shouldn’t use too much water. Therefore, wring your mop so that it’s just damp, not wet.

When you’re finished, rinse the floors with water to remove any residue from the cleaner.

3. Apply a Sealer

To keep your floors in the best shape possible, use a sealer such as a finish guard or stain resistor.

Use a moss rubber squeegee or mop to coat the floor, or spray on the sealer.

4. Add the Wax

Finally, pour some wax on the floor and use a mop to spread the product in a thin, even layer. Then wait for an hour so that the surface can dry before you walk on it.

Cleaning Sealed Concrete Floors

This type of floor is again a little different than the others. On this surface, professionals put a top coat to create a shiny finish.

And, in fact, this is the easiest type of concrete flooring to clean!

For that reason, this is a popular option for commercial or workplace flooring. Plus, it’s durable enough for you to walk on it and doesn’t stain readily.

And you can actually seal any type of concrete flooring: unsealed, stained, painted, or polished.

What You’ll Need

Instructions

1. Vacuum or Sweep Your Floor

First, use your preferred tool to get the excess dirt off your floor. In addition to cleaning, this will also help prevent your floor from getting scratched.

2. Mop and Rinse

Choose your favorite cleaner and dilute it according to the label. If you use dish soap, mix 2 teaspoons of soap into a cup of water.

Then, mop your floor. Finally, rinse off the cleanser with plain water.

3. Apply a Sealer

As with the other floors above, it’s a good idea to protect your floors from staining with a sealer.

You can use a moss rubber squeegee or mop to apply the product, or you can use a sprayer. Just spread the sealer evenly over the floor’s surface.

Cleaning Unsealed Concrete Floors

As the name says, unsealed concrete floors don’t have any kind of finish on them. So that means the surface is still porous.

Unfortunately, that also means that they can be more easily damaged by water, chemicals, machinery, or heavy foot traffic.

Even if your floor gets stained, it usually won’t cause physical damage to the material. However, water trapped in the concrete can let mildew or mold grow.

Also, this type of floor tends to get dusty very quickly, and this can increase the dirt levels. Therefore, you should clean this type of floor regularly so that it doesn’t stain as badly or hold bacteria and mold.

It’s common to find an unsealed concrete floor in a basement, storage room, or workshop.

What You’ll Need

Instructions

1. Vacuum or Sweep

The best tool for picking up loose dust and dirt is a vacuum. So if you can, use a regular vacuum or shop vac for this step.

However, you can also use a broom with stiff bristles to remove the debris.

2. Mop the Floor

First, dilute your cleaning solution according to the label.

You can use trisodium phosphate or bleach. But trisodium phosphate can damage lakes and rivers when it enters the water system, so use it sparingly.

As an alternative, use bleach. For bleach, the CDC recommends mixing 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water (1).

Then, mop your floor with the sponge mop.

To clean concrete floors outdoors, you can also use a pressure washer. However, check with your pressure washer manufacturer if you can pour the cleaning solution into the pressure washer directly. In case of doubt, pour the cleaning solution directly on the floors.

3. Remove Stains

To get rid of stubborn stains, use a stiff brush with bristles made of nylon or another non-metal material.

If you do use metal, tiny particles from the bristles can come loose and stay in the crevices of the concrete. Over time, these will get damp and can cause rust stains.

Pick a suitable cleaning product and spot-clean the affected areas.

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